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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tap dancing!

At the Fox and Hounds Pub there is a small area above the bar cooler door  that we left a couple of plastic pipes exposed. Our intent is to make them into some funky copper plumbing with a variety of taps. What their actual 'function' might be is mysterious but it will be an interesting vignette. I was going to use some real taps but decided instead to just route some from 30 lb Precision Board. It will save me time and I will also get exactly what I need for the job.

This is the kind of project I enjoy, figuring out how to make these complex shapes in EnRoute. I decided the taps would be six sided so I first created the spokes of the tap, some concentric circles and the smaller circles which I would use as guidelines for my final shape. I know there is a way to position the circles around the outside automatically but I couldn't remember so I did it by hnd. In=For this file total accuracy wasn't critical.

Then I used the drawing tool and drew a12 sided shape using the intersecting points of the smaller circles as my reference points. Then I used the line editing tool to bend them to the right shape using the small circles as reference. Then I could delete the circles.

I used the offset tool to build the inside rim of the tap and shortened the spokes, and finally rounded their ends. I created one more offset to use as my zero height relief on which I would build the file. I like to route my small parts in this fashion as if I purposely leave an onion skin on the bottom the parts stay on the table securely.

The zero height background relief was the first step. then I added the rim of the tap as shown.

The spokes were next but built as a separate piece. They would be merged highest later.

Then I built the center section using the bevel tool but limiting the height to create a flat top and bevelled edge.

Then I modified this relief with a tapered hole in the center. It will guide me when I drill for a piece of doweling later. I could have drilled it with the router but I haven't decided the size yet.

At this point everything was merged (highest) with the zero height relief. Too pathing was easy on this piece. Since there isn't any real detail and I wanted the inside corners to have a slight radius I decided to route it with only one tool - a 3/8 ball nose bit. The taps are to be machined from 30 lb Precision Board so they could be done in one pass. I used an 80 % overlap.

In the next post I'll show the pics of the finished project and a short movie to show just how FAST the new MultiCam handled the task.