Does anyone know if Maslow could be used to build a Wikihouse Blackbird?

Does anyone here know if it’s practical to use a Maslow to build a small wikihouse blackbird?

1 Like

The goal of Maslow is to be able to do exactly that type of project, but I don’t think we are really there yet. We did a similar project in 2018 (, and I am currently working on a software and hardware overhaul to incorporate everything we learned in that process.

Basically we learned that 1) The CAD/CAM software that is out there is really not set up for doing this type of building, which mean that a small change in one part (say the thickness of the wood) would lead to days spent regenerating the cut files and trying to fit parts efficiently onto the sheets. and 2) We really really wanted the machine to be faster. It’s possible and we did it, but the amount of time spent cutting was a lot of hours.

Unfortunately I think if you find a shop to give you a quote for cutting the parts for something like that I think that one job will end up costing a LOT more than the whole Maslow machine. Plus if a part is missing or breaks in installation you can’t fabricate a new one.

Basically it’s possible, but hard. I am working on getting us to a point where it can be done easily.


@bar : I appreciated your reply on this topic.

You mentioned changing something like wood thickness requiring a lot of time to update the tool paths. You aren’t thinking about trying to change this in the CAM are you?

This feels like the type of thing that would be best addressed by switching to a parametric design in an existing CAD tool. For the example you gave, a slot that is cut to join two pieces together is defined as the thickness of the wood plus an offset for clearance. In the CAD tool there would be an equation like this: slot_width = wood_thickness + clearance
The huge power of parametric CAD design is that the design variables like “wood_thickness” can be changed once and change all of the affected design features automatically with very little effort.


You are mostly correct. I did all of my designs in OnShape and used a parametric design with a global variable for wood thickness. The issue was that after changing the thickness (or any other modifications) there wasn’t a smooth work flow to get the parts laid out on sheets in an optimal way and generate gcode. It’s certainly possible (we did it), but a lot of the time it felt like more of a hack than using the tools as desired which resulted in a very fragile tool chain which required a lot of care.

Ideally I would like to see a system where the generation of gcode layouts for CNC is so easy that you don’t even need to think about it at least when working with sheet goods. The CAM we are doing is basic enough that I think it can be handled in a single step without much user specified input.

1 Like

@bar maybe this bit of OnShape FeatureScript would improve your workflow? I haven’t used yet, but remembered this post when I stumbled across it:

1 Like