It is hard to believe that it was only seven years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Through extensive research I quickly found out that with the relative simplicity of EnRoute, CNC routers were capable of just about anything imaginable. This journal will chronicle that journey to date and continue each week with two or three entries as we continue to explore just what is possible with this wonderful software... -dan

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dimensional pub sign

As Christmas quickly approaches its the time to make signs that will appear under trees Christmas morning. This client asked for a small pub sign for her husband. The budget mandated that we couldn't get too crazy but my client really wanted a dimensional sign. It would measure just over 4 feet wide and almost 24" tall. The horse's head would protrude from the sign. I first created the vectors in the appropriate scale. The barrel head would be created as a separate layer which will be glued on after routing. The horses head will be sliced and also glued back together after routing and then mounted to the sign.

The first item of business was to create the barrel head. Its a simple oval with a bitmap woodgrain applied. Then I created the stave ends by simply making them into 1.5" tall reliefs and then merging them to the barrelhead. A smaller oval was also raised to provide a mounting point for the horse's head.

The banner file was a pretty basic exercise. The layers of the banner were done at different heights, then merged together along with the oval for the barrel. I created a raised relief around the lettering and then the lettering was created as a bevelled relief. With the raggedy font it looks pretty cool with lots of texture.

I found a great looking horse's head in a STL file at www.3dmodelclub.com It was only $30.00 to download. The detail was pretty good. I'll make the horse a little more like a nag as I detail it by hand later. With the budget allowed for this sign I knew I couldn't carve the horse from scratch. 

The file was sized by eye and then rotated to suit the sign. I then created a zero height block and merged lowest to cut the back of the horses head off nicely. Using the slice tools in EnRoute and a zero height relief I cut the bottom plate off the horse's head. Then I sliced it again to fit in two slices in a 1.5" sheet of Precision Board.

I didn't bother with the small pieces of mane as I would recreate this easier with my sculpting medium after assembly/ I created a copy of the two layers and flipped these for the back side of the horse. I then nested them for routing with the other pieces.

The file is on the router now and I'll post pictures as things progress.