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

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Every once in a while there is a project in our shop that seems to take forever. Most often the projects are ones I would rather not take, and the clients make a statement like 'There is no hurry."  These projects are easily shoved to the side, time after time. Before long, far too much time has passed. Eventually it is just time to get it done. Today was time to take one of these projects off the list.

I had done a quick sketch on the piece of cedar when the client dropped it off some time ago. I darkened the scroll with a felt pen to make it easier to photograph. This photo was then imported to Illustrator and traced and the curved lettering vectors created.

I created a vector of the correct size in EnRoute, then placed blocks of the right size on the top and edges. A circle of the right diameter was then placed, the boxes deleted. Using the jigsaw tool it took one click to make the perfect shape.

The scroll relief were created in layers, each 0.15" above the one under it. Then I did a quick search online and found this STL file of some grapes on the vine. This was inserted onto the file, flipped and also put on the second side to match. Lastly everything was merged (using the merge highest command) to the base relief. The letting was incised using the 'V' tool with a 0.1" base. to give a sharp edge to the letters.

The file was tool pathed using a 3/8" ball nose bit and a 1/8" ball nose bit for the final pass. The piece was routed from a piece of cedar, supplied by my client, along with the design. 

As my MultiCam went to pick up the 1/8" ball nose bit I grabbed this photo of the piece.

As I routed it I was reminded why I don't often route from wood. It will require some sanding before it goes to the paint department. Thankfully finishing and painting this piece will be the client's worry.