Letter Opener
wood working

February 24, 2015

As part of an Industrial Design course, I was given a block of cherry wood (roughly 1" x 3" x 12") and tasked with creating a letter opener. I created this elegant solution that acts as both a letter opener and a nice desk piece. Below are some sketches that show the evolution of the piece's form. It's core function lies with it's ability to open a letter, which gives rise to a tapered body that slowly comes to a point.

This was my first exposure to wood working in our wood shop. I was able to achieve it's shape through the use of a vertical bandsaw, extensive belt sanding, and even more extensive hand sanding and filing.

The curvy design lends itself to various handheld positions for the user. When asked to hold the letter opener, almost everyone I gave it to held it a different way, while still keeping their hand by the thick end of the piece; this is consistent with how I intended the piece to be held.

The two designs below are very similar in terms of design, but somewhat different in terms of size and finish. The piece on the left is finished with several coats of an acrylic-based varnish, which helps give it a shinier, darker, and more protective finish. The piece on the right is slightly larger and is finished with a gel stain, which was applied routinely over the course of a week giving it a smoother more natural wood finish. I'm happy with the way they both came out.