Owl’s Life

Bit of a test day today (isn’t every day?!)  Wanted to see how some new bits from Tools Today would go with the nested projects I have been working on recently.  Today’s test was on a scary looking bit – but not scary because it was big and mean looking – quite the opposite.

This bit is super fine, and a whole 1/16″ (1.6mm) diameter solid carbide cutting tip.  It looks way too fine and fragile to use, let alone in a CNC router!  However, I wanted to see if it could work, as it is currently the largest bit that I have that will cut 3mm MDF and not create oversized, and therefore sloppy joints.  This bit in question is the 45190 Amana Tool straight cutter – 2 flute, and is not up/down or compression.

Thought it would break in a heartbeat, but hoped not.  Even so, I slowed the feed speed down to 50mm/sec.

The result?  Not only did it survive perfectly well, it cut really cleanly, and did not have a tendency to try to lift or move the MDF around, even when the distances between components was at a minimum.

I’ll get more detailed views (and video) of the bit in action at another time.  What I was left with after my testing was this fellow.  The bit performed admirably – I’m sure they have a reasonably high attrition rate, but so far there have been no dramas, or casualties.

Owl-1

Owl-2Cool little guy, and probably not far off life size!  Still I might try him in 6mm MDF next!

Work in Progress

While I wanted to wait until the project was complete before showing it, I have just finished a mammoth step, so decided to share the progress.

Starting with a slab of American Walnut

DSC05827It has been resawn into two pieces, and joined together to create a slab of the required width

Then, after 24 hours of solid routing on the Torque CNC

DSC05838And a quick initial application of Danish Oil (as much to find where I need to do additional sanding), the result is starting to show some promise. (The gauges are only to test fit, they will not join the project until it is pretty much complete).  The top station (the celtic design within a circle) is not just decoration, it will also be a clock.  The gauges are all high quality German-made ones I bought from Carbatec.

DSC05849Exhausted getting this far, and I still have to have it finished by Sunday!!  And tomorrow is a day away from the shed :(

Big push at the end coming – how unusual………

A logical conclusion

Using the same steps discussed in the last entry, I have taken a vector drawing of a Celtic Cross (created by “CarveOne” on the Vectric Forum), and produced a 3d rendering of the design.

This is the first time I have really tried using multiple paths on the same object.

The first pass was a roughing pass – used to remove as much of the unwanted timber as possible with a strong router bit, and higher feed rates to perform the task quickly.

DSC05816For this I used the 46294 3D carving bit from Toolstoday.com  It has a Zirconium Nitride (ZrN) ceramic coating, so this bit is also appropriate for routing in aluminium, brass, copper, cast iron and titanium alloy.  It makes very short work of the camphor laurel!

DSC05818There wasn’t a lot of material that needed to be removed, but it is still a worthwhile step to minimise any unnecessary load on the finishing step (and router bit).

DSC05820The final design was then carved using the 46282 3D carving bit.  This has a 1/16″ diameter tip, so can really get into the details.  Even so, there is a bit that is even finer, if even more detail is required (with a 1/32″ round nose tip).

I was using these at around 80mm/sec.

Once the design was cut, I swapped over to a solid carbide 1/8″ upcut bit to first cut around where the gaps were meant to be inside the design, and then to cut around the outside, down to about 12mm deep.

DSC05822For a sense of scale, the cross is about 300mm high, and 200mm wide.  Straight off the router bits, there is no need for sanding where the carving bits have been.  There is a bit of feathering on the outside of the cut out, but that is both a function of the timber, and insufficient router bit speed.

I deliberately didn’t cut all the way through the timber, so there was no need for tabs to hold the cut pieces in place.

To release the cross from the surrounding material, I turned the whole thing over, then ran a basic flattening profile on the back, taking off 2mm at a time with a surfacing cutter – using the RC2248 replaceable tip cutter.

DSC05825

Once this cut down to the required depth, the cross was released.

Each project presents different challenges, so I get to know more and more about how to use the CNC router effectively, and how to incorporate it as another workshop tool.

I had a look back at some tests I did on the CNC Shark using 3D carving bits – the finish I am achieving here is chalk and cheese compared to my early experiments.  I don’t know if I can attribute it all to the platform, but having such a solid, heavy duty CNC router certainly is not harming the finish that I can now produce!

 

Oxygen

Had a young fella visiting with his family today.  I know it was a waste of breath, but I had to ask him “Do you like dinosaurs?”

It’s like asking a human if they need oxygen to live.

So the answer was a given.  But he wasn’t expecting what came next.  I handed him a set of about a dozen different dinosaur plans, and suggested he choose one.  After a meticulous sort and selection (he’s all of about 4!), one was chosen – a triceratops.  Has big horns for hunting I think was the rationale.

No problem, let’s go make it.  So first, camped out on the lounge floor we loaded the plans into the computer, fitted them to the board size (nesting), and set the required tabs.

Then it was off to the shed, with a small entourage in tow.  While the kids watched, I set the CNC up for the job, explaining what I was doing each step.  There was a board placed on the ground a short distance from the work area, and strict instructions that only I could step over that board.  A small step ladder placed on the other side of the board was a very convenient lookout, and it was duly manned for pretty much the entire time.

As each board was completed (this particular pattern required three 900x600x6mm MDF boards) (and yes, dust extraction and air filtration were on), the entourage were involved in popping each piece loose, then each piece was duly handed to me one at a time so I could sand off the tabs on the disk sander.

The young fella was funny.  He couldn’t get over that we were making ‘his’ dinosaur.  Nor that it was going to be ‘big’.  After all, what does ‘big’ mean to a 4 year old?  A big toy is perhaps a foot long? Maybe?  You wonder what they expect, although they are already processing the concept of limiting their expectations so as not to be disappointed.  So ‘big’ is relative, especially when compared to all the other toys that receive the same description.  He kept asking what I was doing now (or more specifically, what the CNC machine was doing now).  He was confused that even after a number of parts were cut, we were still making components for his dinosaur.  Again, you could see it was already exceeding any preconceived notions of scale.

With the pieces cut out, we traipsed back into the house, where the dinosaur was assembled.

That is when eyes got really wide.  Followed closely by a most impressive grin!

tri-2

tri-1

All up, took at most an hour and a few sheets of MDF, and that was about it.  Sure beats those tiny 6″ long models made in China that keep appearing in pop-up shops in the various malls.  Nothing is better than a ‘serious’ dinosaur.  Especially one that redefines the concept of “big”.  Better than oxygen.

tri-3

Plans from MakeCNC

Recycling Timber

I’m a big fan of recycling timber.

Not specifically for that distressed look (although timber that still reflects some of its history is not necessarily a bad thing), nor as a cost-saving measure.

I really hate seeing perfectly good things getting thrown away, and timber has such a longevity, it will often easily outlast its first, second, even third use.  There are plenty of examples of antique furniture showing that timber can last hundreds of years – really is an amazing product when you think about it, and how it is produced.

My own example is some timber that was being thrown away at work, destined for landfill.

timber-6 timber-7

They were old ceilings, made from Tassie Oak and 90x35mm, and around 1800 long.  Whole corridors of them.  They are about 40 years old, and were nailed in groups between 3 and 6, and by looks, all nailed together by hand.  (Not surprising given the age, but the amount of work involved!!)

SONY DSC

They were dirty on top, stained by water and time, and a varnish on the bottom and sides.  Many, I suspect, would have discarded it, or turned it into firewood.  But with a little imagination, the quality of the timber can still be seen, and easily extracted.  It is perfectly dry – 40 years inside will do that!  It is exceptionally straight.  After taking them apart, removing any fittings, fixtures and nails, this (and another few stacks like it) are all sitting in my wood store, ready for use.  Or should I say, reuse!

This dirty, dusty, stained, unwanted and unloved timber is finding new homes in my projects.  It is good to work with, and finishes very nicely.  And best of all, is being appreciated for what it is and not propping up landfill.  The fact that some of my projects have the occasional odd hole in a funny place does not cause any issues – it only goes to show the timber has lived a previous life.

Monarch Clock

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Multiple Layer Inlay Stencils, from Tarter Woodworking.  The Monarch Butterfly is just one of a range of designs available.

The design is an absolute show stopper.  I took the completed piece in to show my wife and daughter, and during the ‘countdown’ to the reveal, “3, 2, …. ” well they never got to 1. As the work was revealed, they were stunned to silence.  I have never gotten such a reaction to anything I’ve ever made before!  Even having seen the work in progress, the final result was even more incredible than they had imagined, and, well, I’m pretty pleased with the result too :)

For the full writeup, including all the in-progress photos, check out the next edition of ManSpace Magazine (Feb 2015).

 

Hail to the Chef

Had a busy weekend out in the shed, madly making sawdust (which is always a good thing!)

In this case though, it hasn’t generated much content for this site, as it was for the next edition of The Shed magazine.

Here are a couple of the images from the build, but if you want the full article, it will be in the next edition of The Shed (NZ/Aus edition).  If previous writeups are anything to go on, it gets about 9 pages which is pretty awesome!

A fun build – took a weekend to complete, and that is with lots of on the fly design decisions and problem solving.  I quite enjoy building without plans, and just designing as I go.  It throws up all kinds of interesting issues, and solutions that would not have been seen if it had been a sterile, plan-following build.  I’m not saying there isn’t a place for pre-build design, in fact that is the recommended route 99 times out of 100.  I just happen to enjoy the challenges of working with that 1%!

SONY DSC SONY DSC

The unit was even thrown into action before I even had had a chance to finish it!  Needless to say, that has been resolved now, using Ubeaut FoodPlus mineral oil.  Came up a treat, and really useful to boot!

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