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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


CHALLENGE 2010. Last year I challenged all my friends to do one project during the year that was just for them. The idea was they would pull out the stops and create a project that challenged their current abilities. They were to push the envelope, go all out, and create a project that showed the direction they wanted to go in the future. The project didn't have to be large, for it would be a sample they could show their customers. In our shop we upped the ante. My personal goal was to create one such project each month. We almost made it too with eleven and a half projects completed.

My mantra was 'Build it and they will come!'  I believed these new samples would make a difference to our future. It is now a month and a half into 2011and we have already seen dramatic results from the work I accomplished in my spare time - a few minutes at a time. We have the samples of course on display, both in our showroom and when we go on the road in trade shows and such. Our CHALLENGE samples have garnered six national and international awards. The publicity we received (and will continue to receive) is immeasurable. One prize was an all expense trip to Las Vegas. The new trophies on the shelf and the certificates hanging on the wall build our stock and impress customers and add value to our brand (and prices). 

More importantly, I now have many skills and abilities I didn't have before, for I learned them pushing the limits on those jobs. Those twelve samples have sold other similar work worth tens of thousands of dollars. And we have just started. Those samples were an investment in our future.

Yesterday we got the go ahead on a project sold from the Tri-angle Excavation sample sign (featured in the archives of this blog) Our client wanted two signs (to start) for his chain of truck accessory stores. They would stand in the entry of the stores to both welcome customers and to hold their catalogues. They feature a four wheel drive truck of course.

 The project will be my demonstration project during the upcoming Sign Magic Workshop. I'll pre-route some of the components and do some of the work during our class time. This is going to be FUN!

The wheel files were pretty easy and all done in EnRoute. They will be routed from inch and a half 30 lb Precision Board. The starting vectors looked like this...

From those beginning vectors I used the jigsaw tool to cut out the holes in the wheels. Then I added the wheel center caps and lug nuts.

The sidewalls were a simple dome relief.

 The sidewall lugs on the tires were flat reliefs modified with inner and outer circle vectors.

Then I built up the various wheel components and added the sidewall letters, featuring our customer's brand of course. The back of the wheel center was filled with the back of the brake assembly.

As quick as that it was ready to send to the MultiCam.

While I worked up this post the MultiCam finished carving out the first wheel. The rest will happen tomorrow.