It’s not too unusual for a couple of brothers to “sit down with a couple of beers and come up with all sorts of crazy ideas,” as Joe Lovchik described the design process he and his brother Chris have followed.
In their case, though, the brothers are involved with LHR Technologies, inventors of the CarveWright CNC System. And they have used the CarveWright to create a plethora of detailed panels for the library room in Chris’s house.
When Chris and his wife first purchased their current home in Texas, there was an empty room. Chris, a former robotics engineer at NASA, and his wife, a mathematician, had always wanted a library. Although not yet finished – “I don’t know that we’ll ever be totally finished,” Chris said – the 1,000 foot (50’ x 20’) room is already up to two-thirds full of books (it’s designed to hold up to 4,000 volumes), as well as serving as a display for artifacts, scientific instruments and other homages to learning.
Some of those homages include carved friezes above the cabinets and panels, as well as carved busts that serve as corbels to the room’s columns. Carvings of gecko lizards are interspersed among the vines on 33 fluted columns. “My wife likes the geckos that are around down here all over,” Chris explained. “It’s like ‘Find the geckos!’ Kids get a kick out of it.”
Some scenes depict stories from such learning disciplines as math, physics, chemistry or philosophy; while historical scenes pay tribute to the Eygyptian, Greek and Roman eras, as well as the Revolutionary War and World Wars I and II.
“There’s 140 linear feet of different scenes,” Chris said, with Joe adding “That’s the significance of doing it with these types of machines. With that volume of carving, every single one is unique. Even in great old libraries, you’ll find the carving is a repeated pattern that some master carpenter can set apprentices doing.”
“That was one of the main reasons we wanted the CarveWright, was to do things like this,” Chris said. “It would’ve taken me the rest of my life if I tried to do it by hand.”
The CarveWright software also gave them an advantage, Joe said: “The software is designed with a more of a design element. You can arrange something the way you want it, at the size you want, and then upload and print. It’s a fun design process rather than a tedious process.” Instead of spending a lot of time on calculations, “When you’re telling the story of philosophy, you can ask, ‘What do you put in there?’ It’s getting to play with the art,” Chris said.
The entire project, Joe said, has involved “coming up with an interesting idea, then figuring out how to do it.” At first, for example, the brothers had no idea how to make the fireplace they wanted, with two sword-wielding angels spanning it. Chris started playing around with the software and, by the time Joe returned from a trip to Brazil, he had the angels carved out.
That’s not to say there haven’t been some mistakes along the way. “You can still screw it up,” Chris said. For one panel, “I got the numbers mixed up in my head when I carved it, and when I went to put it up, it was 2” too short. I had to re-lay it out and carve it again. That’s the nice thing: other than the wood, you haven’t really invested much into the carving. If it’s not what you want, you redo it.”
As for the rejected pieces – either they were too short or there was something the brothers wanted to improve upon – “Now they’re just samples,” Joe said. “We can’t take the library with us, so we take the pieces to show people” as they are on the road demonstrating the CarveWright.
When making the fireplace, Chris pointed out, the wood used was offcuts from a door company, with the larger sizes allowing more detail in fewer sections – particularly since the CarveWright has the ability to cut larger pieces. “A machine that can fit on a desktop was able to make these 8’ pieces,” Joe said.
As they move further on the library project – envisioned, Chris said, “like an old English gentleman’s club, like where Sherlock Holmes’s brother would hang out” – to needing furnishings and more, “If we can’t find the table or desk that we want, well, let’s just build it,” Joe said. “With this machine, there’s no doubt in our minds that there isn’t anything else that could make it” like this library.