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

Friday, July 15, 2011

Instant gunrack

Today was shop day, away from the worksite. We had lots to do. I had a bunch of files ready to put on the MultiCam. I also had a couple small projects to design and sneak into the schedule as well. The ladies of my crew were kept busy painting the pieces already completed.

The blunderbuss barrel and stock had already been routed a few days ago. I had glued them up with a sturdy steel rod through the gun with two equally sturdy rods protruding down. This gun will be mounted to stay put. But I wasn't at all happy with the stand I had drawn in the concept. It was my intention to fix the problem when I got the chance.

I'm no gun man so I had no clear idea just how I would design a stand for a blunderbuss. I decided I needed some reference material. I googled gun stand and as an afterthought added victorian to the search. Who knows what might come up? To my surprise there were lots of images, mostly to hold steampunk weapons. I picked one I liked and used that as a starting point. The reference stand I liked was for a revolver but that was no problem. I laid the rifle on my welding bench and used some soapstone to scribble some lines on the work surface. I also measured up the structural rods on the gun and took some notes.

While learning to use EnRoute and operate a cnc router may at times seem impossibly complicated at the beginning, the reality is once you master the basics almost anything is possible. A project like this is so very easy and quick. Best of all it was largely done while I was busy  doing other projects. I would build the entire file in EnRoute. 

I first created three boxes. The boxes were only to establish scale. The join lines were where the rods protruded from the gun. Then I drew the basic shape of the gun holder. 

Using the vector edit tool I adjusted the nodes and routed the piece where it needed it. I just eyeballed the angles.

Then I drew in two ovals, making sure they didn't cut through where the steel rods came down. 

At this point we could lose the reference boxes. I drew in a line to determine the top flange of the stand. I also drew in the curlycues. I used the jigsaw tool to create the closed vectors for the top flange and the inside of he fancy ovals.

A coule more small circles and ovals completed the vectors.

The pieces were to be routed from 1" thick 40 lb Precision Board. I keep a few sheets of the denser HDU in stock for when I need something really durable. This stand needed to be strong to withstand some manhandling on occasion. I first created a 0.6" height flat relief. I added a 0.4" relief to form the top flange as well as the big circles. Then I created zero height reliefs of the fancy circles and the small circles. These would be merged lowest to effectively create the holes I needed. Then I created a second copy and flipped it for the back side of the stand.

After the two pieces came off the MultiCam I laid the gun with the protruding rods on top of the piece, traced the rods and used the air powered die grinder to cut the slots in each side. Then I glued it up and fastened them to the base. An angle cut block was also fastened in place. It strengthens the base, providing lateral support and also provided a place for the engraved brass plaque that will tell the story.

I used Abracadabra Sculpting epoxy to hand form the bell of the blunderbuss. It looks a little bent, well worn, and bears a few scars, telling of the ferociousness of the great white hunter's prey. Now we are on to the many details before we get down to paint.