Hilbert Curve Coffee Table
Fractal Furniture
What is a Hilbert Curve?
Early Sketches.
Making it with Copper Pipe.
Putting it all together
In a show at ON Gallery
Some Artsy pics of copper tubes.

One day I got a bee in my bonnet to make some fractal furniture with copper pipe. The Hilbert Curve was the obvious first choice.

At the time, I'd only made one other piece of furniture out of copper pipe, and was showing it off at the Fat Man & Circuit Girl show. They asked me what I was going to do next. "A Hilbert Curve coffee table," I blurted, and suddenly I was committed, though I had no idea if I could actually make it work.

How small can I make the curves?

So I got busy making sketches, trying to figure out if this was even possible. I didn't know much about Hilbert curves, but of course Wikipedia does. It still took me some time to get a good grasp of what's going on and how the different fractal levels relate to each other.

a level 2 section of a Hilbert Curve.
The 1/2 inch elbow is the smallest "pixel" size.

At PDX Dorkbot I started cutting pipe, and attempting to lay out & put together the first Hilbert curve section. I had hoped to get finer detail, but the half inch elbow fittings gave me a hard constraint on the size.

I decided to make it a 2x3 layout, with different fractal levels in a checkerboard pattern. Then I got to work fitting the pieces together, fluxing & soldering the level 3 sections, then partially assembling it to get the level 2 sections right.

Full layout (before adjustment).

Assembling fluxed pieces on a base
of patio bricks to get ready for soldering.

late-night soldering.

Two-level jig.


Once the top was figured out, it was time to build a two-level jig to make a shelf (a Moore curve, also space-filling like a Hilbert curve).

finally assembled.

Of course there are more details about working with copper pipe, doing the assembly,
and putting it in a show at ON Gallery

And it turns out that teeny little orange spiders just love copper pipe!