Completed in 1912, Portland’s Steel Bridge is the only double-deck bridge with independent lifts in the world and the second oldest vertical-lift bridge in North America – after the nearby Hawthorne Bridge just a stone’s throw down the Willamette River.

For his 3rd-grade son’s recent school project, our woodworking YouTuber Frank Howarth of Frank Makes recently took on the task of building a scale model of the iconic Portland bridge– well, helping his son build a scale model using AutoCAD and his shop’s CNC router.

Unsurprisingly, the result is rather clean for a 3rd-graders project, but what else would you expect from a dad that has a woodshop like Frank’s?

YouTube video

Says Frank:

“We built my son’s 3rd grade Steel Bridge project on the CNC router. First, we made drawings of the Steel Bridge from photographs. With these drawings, we cut out the pieces of the bridge on the CNC router. We cut the pieces from ¼ inch birch plywood with a 1/8 inch router bit. We glued and pin nailed the pieces together to create the bridge. The model moves like the real bridge – the lower and upper decks can move independently out of the way of boats on the river.”

No word on how well the project did, but we give Frank an “A” for showing his son how it’s done. Now, if only we could figure out how to get more 3rd graders into CAD and cutting shapes on the CNC router…


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.