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Paul Kaplan

Project by

Paul Kaplan

General Information

Learn how to use 123D Make to slice a 3D model into interlocking 2D shapes you can carve on a mill.

Like this project Open in Easel®
Material Description Price
Blue MDF Sheet

Blue MDF Sheet (×2)

Dimensions: 12 in × 12 in, Thickness: 3/8 in, Color: Blue, Type: MDF

File Description Unit Price


original 3D file by MatthewOwen via Thingiverse




VCarve file for the slices




1st plate of parts in DXF format




2nd plate of parts in DXF format


Download Zip

from Inventables


Import the model

The model I’m using came from this project on Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:49812 by user MatthewOwen. I used the STL file which he made to generate my own custom sized slices using 123D Make.


Set the manufacturing settings

The default settings are for laser cutters, but we can easily adjust them for the Shapeoko or other CNC mills. Just enter the bed size as the width and height, enter the material thickness (measure with calipers first!) and enter the bit size you’ll be cutting with.


Set the "Construction Technique"

There are many options under the “Construction Technique” dropdown. They refer to different ways to slice up the 3D model into 2D panels. The one that works best for this model is “Interlocking Slices”, but play around with the others too!


Set the relief type

Because I’m using a 0.125" bit to cut out the design, I have to make sure that the inside corners of the interlocking slots are “dogboned” to make sure the pieces can fully slot together. Luckily, 123D Make had a built in option for this!


Adjust the slice configuration

Now the sliced model still looks a little crazy (and physically impossible), so lets wrangle that by adjusting the slice number and slice axes. The slice axes can be adjusted using the blue and orange handles. It is a bit hard to manipulate them at first, but the trick is to use the subtle snapping that happens at the 90 degree points. With a quick flip of the axes, the model looked like I wanted it to (and became physically possible to stand up).


Export the design

I planned on using VCarve to create the toolpaths so I exported the design as a DXF.


CAM the design

I imported the DXF file into VCarve and adjusted their positions to make it easy as possible to cut the parts. I made two separate plates using the “Layers” functionality in VCarve. I set the paths to all be outside profiles, with a depth equal to the material thickness and set the bit size I was using (0.125"). Then I exported the g-code


Or use Easel to cut the design

I imported the SVGs into Easel, set the cut type to “Outline – Outside” and set the material thickness to the thickness of the MDF. Since it needs two plates of 12″×12″ material, I made two separate Easel projects: plate1 and plate2

Abdurakhman Smazov
wow. this is what i want it for a long time.. thanks for sharing.
Abdurakhman Smazov
Paul Kaplan
I'm glad you like it!
Paul Kaplan
Kurtis Saiyo
I notice in your photos you are using tiny shims. Was this because the drawing dimensions the tolerances of the shapeoko? Just curious if 123D is purposely making the slots larger. The dog bone feature is great!
Kurtis Saiyo
Kurtis Saiyo
...dimentions *or* the tolerances... Apologies.
Kurtis Saiyo
Paul Kaplan
I meant to make a note on that, thanks for reminding me. I made this design assuming the MDF was exactly 3/8"... bad idea. I had to shim it quite a bit. I recommend going through the steps once you have the exact material you are planning on using measured with calipers.
Paul Kaplan