Exocubic Studio

CinderCone: A Story in 6 Chapters


Chapter 1:

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4:

Chapter 5:

The Final Chapter:

Man, I've had some goofy ideas over the years.

CinderCone: Making V2.0

Now that I’ve figured out how to correct the issues that presented themselves in V1, it’s time to implement the changes. That means generating new patterns for the laser and having the improved design cut. I also went with slightly thicker material — 11 gauge instead of 12 — to provide a touch more rigidity. Let the games begin!

CinderCone faces render.

The updated upper faces. Here you can see the threshold below the door, and the updated trio of fastener holes in the bottom of each face. ^

Laser cut metal.

Voila! The laser-cut metal in all its glory. ^

Bottom plate and fire basin faces.

The bottom plate and fire basin faces. ^

Bracket 3d model

The 3D model of the new & improved anchoring bracket… ^


… and its real-world counterpart. ^

Brackets bolted into basin.

To insure a proper fit, I bolt the brackets into the fire basin and tack them together while there. Here, you can see how the ring of brackets pins the grill in place. ^

Brakcet ring on fixturing table.

Once tack welded, the brackets are removed, clamped securely flat, and the final welds added. Oh - about that work surface: I was massively frustrated with how my fixturing and clamping setup worked on the prototype, so I broke down and bought a fancy German fabrication table. I really only spend money on things that make making better. ^

That’s the first half of the assembly for version 2. I’m really pleased at how the design is working out, and the new welding table not only makes things easier, but insures that the quality of my parts is top notch.

CinderCone: Back to the Drawing Board.

With lessons learned from the first burn trial-by-fire (literally), I went back into my model on the computer and started implementing improvements. Chief among these was a way to stabilize the grill and a better system for attaching the top section to the fire basin. I also wanted to add in an ash door and a way to stiffen up the feet (they had a bit of lateral deflection happening, albeit slight. Might as well fix it while I’m fixing, right?)


Belt line in Solidworks


The biggest change was adding a “belt” that ran along the entire perimeter of the joint between top and bottom. This kills two birds: the belt pins the grill down to prevent warpage, and provides a super-beefy means of attaching top to bottom. You can also see how I extended the bottom plate further out on the legs to stiffen them up.


Belt section


Detail of one section of the “belt.” I used tab and slot construction to spare me the hassle of alignment, plus it adds strength. Note the hexagonal cutouts that receive the nuts. Magic.


Belt complete model


The CinderCone’s “Belt.”


CinderCone V2 design


The finished V2 design. I added a bit of a “threshold” under the door to allow for a full 360° of attachment, top to bottom.

CinderCone: How.

Once I decided I wanted to make a chimenea, it was time to address the “How?” I’ve spent 25 years slowly incorporating computer-aided design elements into my work, including patterns that are warped and deformed algorithmically. I had a vague idea of how I wanted the perforated pattern to look, but utilized the "mess with it 'til it looks good" method to arrive at a layout of hexagons, warped along a curving path. Not to get too far into the weeds, but that curving path acts as an attractor, deforming the hexes more strongly relative to their distance from it.

Chimenea attractor curve


Since the humble hexagon was the seed for the pattern, I thought it appropriate to use it as the driving motif for the chimenea’s main form, too. Given that there are some immutable constraints at play - scale, containing the fire, supporting the wood, channeling the smoke, etc. - much of the remaining design choices were just a matter of adjusting the form to allow for said constraints. I worked up the basic shape, then stuck an average-sized human into the scene to check the scale. The initial 40 inch height just felt too small when viewed in this context, so I added a foot. Ta Da!


Original, too-small design Revised, taller size


Once I have the design finalized, I lay out all the parts as flat patterns for the laser cutter, then send them off to be cut.

laser cutting layout

#throwbackthursday to this design proposal, titled "Transformer."

Trying to get a handle on 3D sketching in #solidworks. Turned said sketch into a 1–1/4" square tubing weldment.


A long-ago rejected proposal design. I think it was for a music venue of some sort.


Backpedal: Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To move the pedals of a bicycle or similar vehicle backward, especially to apply a brake.

  • intransitive verb To move backward by taking short quick steps, as in boxing or football.

  • intransitive verb To retreat or withdraw from a position or attitude.

 Well, that didn’t work out.

I’m referring to my previous post, wherein I formally “end” my career as a sculptor. I gave it a year, and it was crystal clear that my new endeavors were not going to pan out financially. I was scrambling to figure out what to do and why, when that stupid little notification sound emerged from my phone. It was a text from a client I’d worked with back in 2015, designing and fabricating a privacy screen for his house here in Fort Collins.

Fawzy privacy screen

Turns out, he has a need for another screen at his new place in Denver. When opportunity knocks, you answer – sore shoulder notwithstanding. I felt somewhat defeated at first, but, as I started digging into a new design, I realized just how much I missed the process of building artful things—actual, physical objects made to fill space and look cool doing it. There is something deeply satisfying about working out how to reach an artistic goal while also striving to make it fulfill a clear purpose. Speaking of purpose, it seems I’ve relocated mine. Exocubic Studio is back, baby!

Messing with some patterning iterations for the aforementioned new screen. #sculpture #mediterraneandiet

A bunch of boxes

Still from a previous video. How to tell when the motion designs weren't working that day. You cheat with what's basically a re-post.

#tbt to an old Modo render. Ooh, mysterious!


Lacquer Box. Some fun geometry for your Sunday.

The jawbreakers are escaping, sir.

Capsule. Particle. Thing.

Messing around with some branding ideas. Still really proud of my logo design.

Four buckyballs lingering after the party. Platonic solids know how to tie one on, dog.