Week -3 through -1: SUPER SECRET STUFF #1: Solar System Map

While shopping for Christmas presents some weeks back, I saw an ad for a company which would make little silver necklaces or whatever, showing the position of the planets in our solar system on any arbitrary date.  I thought the idea was pretty great and would lend itself well to some woodworking.  I really enjoyed the mix of traditional woodworking and then breaking out the laser cutter for this project.

I started by building what was basically a cutting board – alternating strips of spalted maple and cherry, cut to size on my table saw, glued up, and then trimmed square, sanded through 600 grit, and finished with a couple coats of wipe-on polyurethane.  The frame is scrap padauk left over from a previous project, again mitered on the table saw.  No in-process pictures of this, though it’s all pretty straightforward.

I found this site which has a “virtual orrery” which can be set to any arbitrary date.  I picked my wife and my wedding date and played around with the sliders until I liked the alignment of items.  Note that this includes dwarf planets in order to be interesting – it’s zoomed out so far that basically everything sunward of Jupiter is squished together at the center.  Exported in .svg and cleaned up in Inkscape; I moved the scale bar to the bottom right and merged the objects which overlapped, in order to avoid passing the laser over those areas multiple times.

The barcode on the bottom encodes our wedding date and was made using a free barcode generator online (I forget which one).  Everything was then put together in Lightburn and engraved using my K40 laser cutter.  This was a very enjoyable project and I’m pretty happy with the end result!

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