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, June 19, 2013

Riding the rails

One of the last items we need to design and create for the WhistlePunk Hollow project are the train rails that will be up on the trestle. The train actually sits on some sturdy angle iron and the rails will be just for show. It made perfect sense to machine them from Precision Board rather than source and purchase the real thing. For the end closest to the public I decided to use 40 lb HDU and for the rest we'll stick to our usual 30 lb board. The rails are to be machined in halves from 1.5" thick Precision Board. We'll then glue the two halves together and finish with the Modern Masters rust paint that will make the rails impossible to tell from the real thing.

I started with the half rail profile and two straight lines three inches apart.

The rails would be created with the SWEEP TWO RAILS function in EnRoute. I like to create these kinds of files as a mesh file , tweak it as necessary and then merge it with a relief to get a routing file. Mesh files can't be routed until they are merged with a relief. The command prompts take us thropugh the process of creating a relief. First it asks me to select the first rail...

Then the second rail...

And then the profile is selected twice - once for each end.

I then created a vector box around the mesh and created a zero height relief. 

I then selected both the mesh and the zero height relief which allowed me to open the combine mesh and relief function. I made sure it was set to MERGE HIGHEST function.

I then used the slice function to create a rail profile relief without the flat background.

I routed twenty two rails for our project - eleven from each sheet of 1.5" thick Precision Board. We'll glue these up and then trim them up to get them ready for the rust paint which is on order.

Next up are the rail plates complete with spikes to 'fasten' the rails to the wooden ties. Stay tuned...