Cylindrical Maze Design Help

Hi all! Really interested to hear your thoughts on this project. I’ve made this cylindrical maze on my 3d printer in multiple variations but I’ve been dying to do it in wood on the Shapeoko 3.

I know there have been a thousand posts on 4th axis for shapeoko, but I don’t believe there is functioning plug-and-play option for that yet? Correct me if I’m wrong, please, I can spend more money lol.

I’m specifically trying to think of OTHER ways this can be achieved… Cutting into 4-8 slices, and gluing together after carving? Cutting multiple curved “faces” and affixing to a square rod?

I’m specifically concerned that the recesses are of equal depth and the ridges are of equal height/angle proportional to the center. IDEAS? Have any of you attempted something like this with success?

Screen Shot 2020-06-24 at 4.58.32 PM

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My idea is to turn the round into a square. Then you can build an indexing fixture and make the puzzle wrap around all four sides.

For this you’d pretty much need some sort of 4th axis, say one of the ones which translates Y-axis movement into rotation.

For the G-Code you should be able to use the Scorchworks utility G-Code Ripper which can wrap things.

I believe MeshCAM does indexed 4th axis cutting — not sure if it will work with a mapping of Y-axis movement to rotation though.

Yep it screams “4th axis”, but that is not going to be easy (this solution might only take a few weeks)
I would probably try and go with your “slices” approach instead:

  • import your 3D model (the one you printed) in e.g. Fusion360 or some other CAD tool supporting slicing.
  • use the Slicer plug-in, adjust the slice thickness to match exactly the thickness of those maze walls, and the number of slices such that the transitions between horizontal slices happen right at the heights where horizontal walls start/end. It might take some trial and error, and it might require to adjust the 3D model, it’s hard to tell from the picture whether the “corridors” are an integer number of times the wall thickness in width/height. Do I make any sense ?
  • you would end up with something like 32 slices, judging by the pic.
  • cut each individual piece on the shapeko
  • stack/align/glue them. You may need to make a centering jig
  • sand the outer cylinder surface and do finishing (in your case painting the thing black + painting the outer surface in gold.

Not a piece of cake, but doable and it would achieve the correct geometry without the need for a 4th axis. It would also allow to get creative, e.g. alternate slices of contrasting woods, to give it a funky look.

Happy to help (with e.g. the Fusion360 slicer) should you decide to use this approach!

EDIT: as an example, on this random Thingiverse example:

Slicer does this:

and produces thirty-two 2D slices like those:

than you can then import in CC to create profile cut (you will probably need to use a small endmill, to keep the inside corners relatively sharp)


or, maybe try a “manual 4th axis” like that guy with the koi fish. You would probably need more than 3 rotary settings, but I think the idea could work for you.


I’ve actually designed a very simple “lock & key” method to carve 3D objects on 4 sides, without the typoe of manual 4th axis that I created for carving the Koi fish and the Earth globe. It requires only a few pieces of MDF and some thought into the design process of the project you have in mind. Give me a few more weeks to compile the video (it takes me some time to make a video that clearly explains the steps of the procedure), and keep an eye on my YouTube channel. I will use a Greek (Corinthian) column that I carved on 4 sides to explain the technique. The column is also cylindrical, so it is quite similar to your project.


I’m looking forward to it, I’ve seen your videos on the koi, planet and frog and they’re really good.

Excellent responses all! Long term goal is to get a functioning 4th axis going.

For now, I’m going to start with Julien’s idea. I can easily adjust the thickness of the walls and corridors to be equal. Additionally, if the slicers divides into 32 slices, I can generate a map with a height of 32 cells: 1 cell = 1 wall or 1 corridor.
Gluing and sanding is gonna be a pain haha.

I really look forward to your new video, Dennis! I looked into your koi fish early on in the brainstorming process for this project.


Here you go, a link to my YouTube video, where I explain the Lock & Key technique for 4-sided CNC:


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