CNC at last…

I’ve been in love with CNC routers ever since I first heard about them over 10 years ago now.  I’m generally fairly impulsive, but for some reason this time I waited, and waited, and waited.

Over the years I bought a “how to build your own CNC” book, I’ve read countless web pages, and almost bought an X-carve from inventables last year.  But as the years went by my interest turned from hobby to business, and so my needs changed.  I have very little free time, and I can’t justify spending work hours to build a machine when I need to be making things to make money.  I know you can argue that building this machine would help me make money later on, but I’m not convinced the savings would work out in the end.  Another issue is I’m pretty impatient, and I might not follow every step, or complete each operation, and chances are the machine might not be perfect, and that will lead to less than perfect cutting, which will drive me crazy.  The Inventables option seemed better, but not so sure if it would put up with commercial work.

So last week I figured I had enough money in the business account, and there was an ok deal on a CNC.  After several days of emails I had just about bought the machine but started to get a funny feeling from the private seller, and was getting frustrated with his communications, so called it off.  The next day I found another machine, slightly different size, slightly more money, but still a decent deal.  Then today looking at old Kijiji listings, I saw a CNC for sale but I was sure it was long gone.  I contacted the owner in the off chance it was still for sale, and it was!  The price was better than the other two machines, and while a bit further from me, I agreed to purchase it.

Due to the distance from me, it’d take me 2 days to go there and back to get it, plus cost me a rental van, gas, food, accommodation, etc.  So I hired a shipping company, that way it gets to my door and I can spend those days catching up on projects that have fallen behind a bit lately.  We’ve had so much snow this week that I’ve spent more time shovelling that woodworking it seems.

Hopefully I’ll have the machine by the end of next week, then I have to figure out how to use it!

Captain Awesome

Some days everything goes wrong, and other days I feel like Captain Awesome.  Today was one of those days.  Part of the key was I was in the right frame of mind, but I also took my time, made sure the tools were set up ahead of time and everything was clean and organized.  But I’d like to think some was related to me gaining experience as well.  I guess in a way me learning to take my time and set things up first is due to experience.

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I did have one set back, 2/3 of the way through the day I was trying to rout a grove using the router table.  It’s not a good one, but it’s better than my old one (and it was free, so can’t complain).  But not only was the fence moving, but it wasn’t straight, or square.  I tried to bend the metal straight and it snapped in half.  Possibly it was a sign that I should make a fence (or maybe I should buy a router table).  For now I quickly put together a simple fence out of some old melamine.  Is it perfectly square? No, but it’s a lot closer than the old one, good enough for now.

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Anyways, many projects on the go, more than I can handle really, but it feels awesome.  I’ll be posting some of them in the future as they look less like piles of wood and more like something.  Hopefully some new stuff in the Etsy Shop next week as well!

52 Create – Router Boxes

52 Create, my attempt to make one creative project per week for the entire year of 2011.  So far the bulk of the projects have been wooden, and this week certainly continues the trend.  I’ve never worked with Walnut before, but I saw this board lying against the wall at Black Forest, and I simply couldn’t resist taking it home.  I brought the 6 foot long 8 inch wide board to the cash and when the chatty owner asked what I was going to do with that great big slab, I replied with a perfectly straight face “salad tongs”…  Now honestly, I am planning on making some salad tongs at some point, and obviously there will be much wood left over for other projects, but I just couldn’t resist the joke.

Anyways, back to the project.  I made a square template out of some scrap 1/8″ plywood and used a router with a straight bit to cut the hollows of the two boxes.  I did this on the full board and then cut the outside shape afterwards as this seemed much simpler.  All sides were rounded with a 1/4″ round over bit.  The outsides were coated in shellac (roughly 2 lb. cut), and then I painted the insides bright yellow. Tops are made out of some scrap Maple I had lying around.

I was a little disappointed in the cut out.  I think it was a combination of a crappy router bit, which was also dull, and I may have tried to take too much wood off at each pass.  The inside was quite rough and I ended up having to use some filler (after lots of sanding).  I had always wanted to try the painted interior, but the only thick glossy and durable paint I could find was some no-name tremclad paint which took about 24 hrs to dry between coats.  Both boxes need 1-2 more coats of yellow, and there are a couple of places where I’d like to touch up the shellac.  A fun project, and the cutouts could really be just about any shape you could dream of.

My other 52 Create Projects.

52 Create – Grandpa’s Wall

 

Week 1 of 52 Create.  For those of you just tuning in, I’m designing/making 52 things this year, one per week.  The objects are crafts and will range from toys to furniture, and in a variety of materials.

For my first project, I decided on something that was not only fun but necessary.  Now that we’re back at home my 16 month old daughter needs a gate to keep her from exploring the stairs.  I could have picked up a crappy plastic one but that would cost money, would look ugly, and wouldn’t be any fun.  I had a piece of 1/4″ baltic birch plywood in the Manrage (man’s garage) so that’s the the wood I used. Had I had a choice, I would have used 3/8″ to give it a bit more strength.  I cut the plywood to size and then sketched out a few designs on it.  Then with a router with a 1/4″ bit I cut the designs out freehand, sanded them smooth, and applied a coat of beeswax finish.

It’s mounted in an old door frame (the door is long gone), I simply put a couple of blocks of wood on the frame with some finishing nails and the piece of plywood slides in between.  It’s removeable when we need to clean the floor or go downstairs, but it’s actually low enough to just step over.

Why Grandpa’s Wall? The butterfly design brought back a childhood memory of my grandpa. I like to name all my work, and that memory really jumped out at me.

This baby gate won’t be going up on Etsy as there is no standard mounting system (you’d have to nail blocks into your wall, assuming you have a wooden frame there to begin with).