Letter Opener

01/2018 - 02/2018

Design brief:
Design and fabricate a wooden letter opener that is effective at opening a sealed envelope, comfortable to hold, and formally communicates its purpose and desirability.

My design is inspired by both the grain pattern of the provided wood blank and the shape of a Prince Rupert’s Drop.

This is my first project for the IPD527 Industrial Design class at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Adobe Illustrator


    Band Saw
    Vertical Belt Sander
    Oscillating Spindle Sander

    Bartley Gel Stain


Finding the shape

I scanned the grain of the wood blank, imported the image into Illustrator, and used the curvature tool to create simple organic shapes that best fit the grain.


Defining the Geometry

I slightly modified shape #3, imported it into Rhino, and created a top view of the letter opener that matches the side view.


Creating the form

I printed out the two views, taped them to the two sides on the wood blank, and cut it on a band saw in both orientations. I then used the belt sander and the spindle sander to get the piece into the rough shape, a rasp to further remove some material, and then increasingly higher grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth surface finish.

The last step was to apply a gel stain finish that both protects the wood and brings out its true color.