By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics


An interesting design exercise is to cut and fold furniture from one sheet of plywood. Peter Meijer has explored families of elliptical tables that are folded from exactly one rectangular sheet, with no unused remainder.

peter meijer 1 Math Monday: Elliptical One Sheet Furniture

In one family of experiments, he systematically varies the possible leg parameters, to search for optimal arrangements.

peter meijer tables Math Monday: Elliptical One Sheet Furniture

Here are renderings of some of the elliptical table designs he found to be most promising. I’ll be curious to see someone actually make these.

peter meijer tables 3 Math Monday: Elliptical One Sheet Furniture

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.

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