It is hard to believe that it was almost ten 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 of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No end of uses for Precision Board

We use Precision Board in almost all of our projects. Sometimes it is just small bits, but the material is so versatile and durable. I've been working on a train for our yard for quite a while. We call it my 'grampa train'. I strongly feel every grampa should have an electric train. Mine is just bigger than most. We had used Precision Board for the 'wooden' number panels on the steam engine cab as well as the 'brass' name plates and the number plate on the front of the boiler. These pieces were holding up well.
Our local parade is to be held in about two weeks and we always try to have an entry to both support our local community and to also promote our second business - Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf. It was time to come up with a new idea and so we decided to load my 'grampa train' on the flat deck trailer and decorate it up. Flapjack - our bear mascot would ride in the car. Phoebe, our grand daughter would be the engineer. I'll pilot the tractor that tows the trailer.
I needed some signs for the rail car and of course nothing but a dimensional sign would do. I had designed a sign last year and in fact routed two of them - one for up at the golf, the other for a sample here in the studio. But only one sign was completed so it was the perfect excuse to finish the project. The routing file was done in four layers of 30 lb Precision Board. The bottom layer was the log background. This file was created by using one of my bitmap textures. The grey scale artwork instantly was transformed into dimensional artwork by using EnRoute. The next two layers of the sign were simple routing offsets of the letter shapes. The top layer of the sign lamination was the name Giggle Ridge. It features a custom font I call Spaz and more textures created using one of my bitmaps. I had done some priming and painting of the pieces back when they were routed but they were also marked with the dirt, dust and paint splashes from hanging around too long in the shop. No harm however for we would soon fix that.
To start the sculpture I cut some bear shaped blocks from scrap Precision Board that is always kept handy for just such a purpose. These would save a bunch of epoxy sculpting material and speed up the process.
I screwed the pieces to the base layers and then used the die grinder to quickly add some rough shape to the head and shoulders. In short order we were ready to begin the sculpting process. The epoxy is made from two components... a resin and an activator. They are mixed in equal proportions and the end result is a sticky, clay like medium. I compare it to plasticene - the stuff we all played with as kids. Only this gets rock hard in about 3-4 hours. I quickly shmooshed it on the blocks I had cut to shape.
Once the entire shape of the bear head was done it was time to start in on the detail work.
I'll be continuing the story the next time I post...