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, April 30, 2013

Train on the trestle

Yesterday was an exciting day as it was time for the second delivery to the WhistlePunk Hollow project. Each time we make a delivery it is a fun drive with lots of waves, wows and thumbs-up along the way.

The log car was the first piece to be lifted onto the trestle which the client had built. It went up smoothly and without a hitch.

The engine was a little trickier to slide into place. Jeff, running the big excavator confidently and skillfully nudged it into position without a scratch. Our job on the trestle was to simply guide it into place between the marks.

The train looked spectacular in place, perfectly in scale with the trestle. It reads perfectly as you approach the golf from the town. 

It was smiles all around as I drove away.


Sculpture Magic Workshop

The Sculpture Magic Workshop began four days after the last. This time we had four who attended the first workshop and then stayed for the second. This meant I had to keep things fresh, not repeating myself too much. Almost everyone arrived on Thursday afternoon anxious to kick things in gear and so we did just that. We managed to squeeze in more than forty hours of concentrated learning time. The projects the students did were nothing short of fantastic. We had lots of laughs from beginning to end. It all was great fun!

I can hardly wait for the next one in the fall!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring 2013 Sign MAGIC Workshop

The spring 2013 Sign Magic Workshop is now behind us. We had a full workshop with a class of very eager students. We changed things up a little this time with the meals taken in the new house. We were able to seat thirty people (students and our team of helpers) at one table comfortably. It worked out well and it was a great test drive of the new house. Our guests enjoyed looking at every detail we had incorporated throughout it's construction.

With the workshop meals in the new house it freed up a whole lot of space in the shop. Once again we were able to seat everyone at a single table, making things easier and more enjoyable for all.

Jeff Hartman, one of the creators of EnRoute was our guest lecturer. He did a great job. We routed a lot more sample pieces during this workshop showing how the files were created how they routed and then how we finished them.

We also did hands-on demonstrations of our fiberglass-reinforced-concrete carving techniques.

 The hands-on painting and sculpting was enjoyed by all.

And here's a shot of the entire class.

It was a fun workshop without a doubt. Thanks to all who participated!

Tomorrow we begin the Sculpting MAGIC Workshop. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Almost ready for the workshops

The spring workshops are now just around the corner with the first students due to arrive tomorrow. We've been busy getting ready! The samples the students will work on are all prepared, The name plaques are getting their final touches. The shop has been cleaned from top to bottom. We are almost ready.

We've stocked up on all the supplies we need and begun final preparations for the sculpting workshop as well which begins next week. Those preparations will be tucked away until just before the workshop starts. Today, Matt and I began welding the tree structures. The students will take the projects from this point, welding up the substructure, through to final sculpt.

We'll be taking lots of pictures through the workshops. I'll post a report or two along the way. Stay tuned...


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Paint MAGIC (part two)

Here's the second batch of name plaques - ready for the workshop.

There is still another bunch of name plaques in the painting process. 'll post the pics of them when they are done. Stay tuned...


Paint MAGIC (part one)

Creating files in EnRoute is great fun! Watching the files become real as they are routed from Precision Board on our MultiCam still fascinates me, even after more than six years. But it is the painting process where the real magic happens.

In our Sign Magic Workshops we spend lots of hands-on time teaching the unique ways we use to create this magic. The name plaques we create for all of our guests are one way we can show all that is possible. They are not all finished yet but I thought I'd show the ones that are ready in this and the next entries...

Stay tuned for the next batch...



The last name tag for the workshops is for Kelsey.  The file was created entirely in EnRoute. As per usual it started with vectors.

The outside border relief was created flat, then I also selected the inside oval and added a dome panel with a slightly raised edge.

The rivets were created as separate reliefs, also domed.

The lettering border was also created as a separate flat relief. This relief was then modified using the dome tool and the large oval. The rivet reliefs were modified in the same manner.

I used the sandblasted woodgrain bitmap from the TEXTURE MAGIC collection.

The last steps were to merge everything together and then add the raised lettering.

Next we are on to paint.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dov's name plaque

As always the name plaques start with the vectorized design. The lettering was simply typed. For the background I had to build a file using diamonds. The simplest way was to use long rectangles going diagonally in both directions and then use the jigsaw tool to pick out the shapes I needed.

Then I used the distort tool (new in version 5 of EnRoute) to bend up the lines a little.

Then I built a flat relief and modified it using a rectangle with rounded corners to add a dome shape to the top. I would use the same vectors and angle of dome to modify the letter outline a few steps down the line. I then modified the relief once more by adding to it using the diamond shapes as a mask.

My favorite bitmap from the TEXTURE MAGIC Collection called splotches was used to add a little texture to the surface.

The lettering was next, first building a flat relief and then modifying it using the dome tool and using the rounded corner rectangle.

The lettering outline was then nudged up to position in the front view using the up key and then merged highest to become part of the base relief.

Lastly I added the lettering using the bevel tool. The base of he letter (vertical side) was set at 0.15"  

I tool pathed the file using a 3/8" bit for a 50% overlap rough pass and then applied a final pass using the 1/8" bit and a 80% overlap. It was then sent to the MultiCam to be routed from a piece of 1" thick 30 lb Precision Board. Twenty minutes later Pov's name plaque was ready for the paint process.

There's still one more name plaque to go. Stay tuned...