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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cookie's Gally

Back in April I created the first routing files for the Skallywag Bay. Now at last it is time to fire up the MultiCam and get going on these projects. Todays sign was for Cookie's Galley, the food establishment for the park. It will feature Cookie of course, the Gruffle cook.

During the sculpting workshop of last fall I had created the sculpt of Cookie for the sign so he was ready to go.

To see how I created the routing file in EnRoute go HERE.  The face of the sign was done as an island fill on the MutliCam. The middle section and back of the sign were done as a simple cutouts.

Before assembling the sign I first needed to weld up a steel frame to laminate inside. I cut the pieces of steel, dropped the long tubing into the slot in the middle section of sign and then used two spacers (of scrap steel) to hold the back of the sign off the table.The two pieces of tubing that were to protrude out of the sign for mounting were then tacked to the interior piece,  The spacers allowed me just enough room to do some tack welds of the tubing. One the tack welds had cooled for a minute I took things apart to weld them up solid

I then put the steel frame onto the back piece and traced around it with a felt pen. 

I then used the air powered die grinder to take out about an eighth of an inch of material to give the steel a bit of breathing room and allow for expansion due to temperature changes.

Then it was time to spread some glue (PB Bond 240) and spritz with water.

The face of the sign was then screwed together. Here it is with the head placed roughly where it will go. Once I do the final shaping and add the woodgrain to the edges of the sign we can dowel and glue him into position permanently.

Then it will be time for paint.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Treasure Quest - part three

Once the MultiCam had done it's work it was time to assemble the pieces over the welded frame.  I first used the air house to blow off the dust from the Precision Board. I used PB Bond 240 glue a one part product that is activated with water moisture. It's made by the folks at Coastal Enterprises, the same people who make Precision Board. I spread a layer over the back of the sign, aligned the middle to it and then screwed then together. I'm told it isn't necessary to screw the pieces, only clamps but I like the extra insurance the screw offer. I countersunk the heads of the screws and we'll fill in the holes before we begin painting. I then positioned the sign over the sign frame. Here's the back view of the sign.

The front view of the sign (without the front of the sign) shows how the pieces fit over the frame. I then spread a layer of glue over the reverse side of the front piece and aligned it with the other pieces. A few more screws finished the assembly.

Before we begin the painting process I'll use a die grinder to texture the edges of the driftwood sign by hand. Then I'll use some sculpting epoxy to create a stack of gold coins and perhaps a string of pearls on the top. We'll sculpt the fiberglass reinforced concrete tree branch right up to the sign as well.

I'll post further pictures of the sign profess as we proceed. Stay tuned...


Treasure Quest - part two

After creating the lettering and tweaking it to my satisfaction it was on to making the reliefs. I first opened my driftwood bitmap from the TEXTURE MAGIC COLLECTION.  In EnRoute the imported bitmap opens as defined by the plate.

I then stretched it out to make the shape I desired. I then used the drawing tool to create the jagged outline I wanted for the sign.

I then selected the vector shape and used the dome tool to create a relief. When you use the dome tool on an irregular shape it doesn't come out perfectly smooth. Since this would be a rough piece of driftwood that was perfectly OK.

I then applied the bitmap to the relief.

I then used the sculpting tool to deepen the ridges in the driftwood relief. The effect is subtle and not easily seen on screen but it transforms a rather flat relief into pure magic. The endview of the piece shows the effect a little better.

I then duplicated the relief three times, flipping the center one to make the back of the sign. The top one I  took back to a vector outline as it would be a offset cut to create the center portion of the sign.

I drew a vector rectangle that fit the inch and a half square tubing that would form the structure for the sign. After positioning it I used the jigsaw tool to grab the outline we would cut. This formed the middle layer of the sign. I would cut this from 1.5" 30 lb Precision Board.

Then it was on to creating the letters for the sign. I started with the outside border, creating a flat relief. This was positioned vertically and then merged highest with the original relief.

Now I modified this relief by first adding the next letter bordering.

The last step was to modify the relief one more time by adding the bevelled letters. I used the constant height option.

With that the file was ready to tool path and then send to the MultiCam.

In my next post I'll show how the sign was assembled over the armature. Stay tuned...


Treasure Quest - part one

We are now full blast into the build of the Skallywag Bay Adventure Park for Trinidad. We'll be busy for the better part of a year in our studio before heading down to the Caribbean Island for the installation of all the pieces. It is going to be both challenging and exciting every step of the way. Because the project is in many ways similar to the one recently completed, Cultus Lake Adventure Park, we will be building on our successes there and hopefully kicking things up one more notch in the process.

I designed the sign for the kid's play area some time ago.  At the time I wasn't worried about details like the font. That would come later. 

As we got into the realities of the fabrication I also knew some things had to be changed up a little. Because all the pieces have to fit inside shipping containers (fourteen in all) we are limited to about 7' 6" tall. This meant I would reshape the tree a little and then perch the parrot a little lower. I didn't redraw the design but rather did it on the fly as we built the frame and armature. In the picture below the frame is welded and the lath is almost in place. The parrot form can be seen perched on a branch to the middle right.

Then it was on to begin creating the routing file. I started with a nice cartoon font which I bought for the park logo called PiekosFX. But as usual for my style I didn't keep it looking like it came out of the box. I adjusted the angle of the downstroke of the R and shortened the top down stroke of the S. I also resized and then thinned down the T and the Q. All of the kerning was adjusted to my liking as well.  I also kept the name of the play park on one line to keep the sign a little thinner and longer than in the original design.

Then we began tweaking all of the letters. In version 5 of EnRoute we can distort the vectors easily using this tool. In the next four pictures they show the process as I went through the process twice to get the effect I wanted. The lettering was now much more fun but still very readable.

Then using the outline tool I created a double border around the letters. The outside border is a little wider than the first.

The lettering is now ready to start working with as I create the relief. I'll cover this process in the next post to the blog.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Love them posts

We are down to the final details on the house project. Through the construction we did over 200 routing files and created thousands of pieces. Now we are down to the last few at last.

The side wall of the house is plain with no windows and so to break up the plainness we added purloins to the lower rock section of the wall. Into these we placed routed heart panels in keeping with the theme of the exterior of the house.

We decided to use these same panels in the fence corner posts to further continue the theme and color out to the road. For the two corner property posts I was able to use the same routing file which I had created for the house many months ago.

The driveway presented a challenge however. On one side we built a concrete tree to hold up the big gate. We will plant some vine plants to generate foliage in the upper branches.

On the other side of the gate we have a tower which houses all the services (water, power and telephone/data for the house and shop. The gate post on this side is a taller version of the fence corner posts. Since we wanted a heart panel on this piece it meant I had to create a new one to be routed.

I started by opening the old file of the shorter panel. I had save it with some of the right sized heart vectors just in case I needed them later. I created a rectangular vector around the plane.  This was used as the starting int for the new taller panel.

I then angled the sides of the vector to align with the sides of the old one Then I stretched it out to be 42" tall.

I then used the outline tool to create an inside vector that formed a 2" border.

I then rounded the corners of the panel using a 1" radius.

Then I created a flat relief of the center portion of the panel. I would merge(highest) the different layers of hearts to this panel in later steps. I then pulled in the three different angles hearts arranging them down the center portion of the panel. These hearts would be the highest of the three levels of when we were done.

I then added enough heart vectors to fill the panel. Before I went on the the next step I merged highest the heart shapes to the original rectangular relief. Once merged, the original hearts were deleted. With those hearts out of the way the next steps were easier.

I then went down the panel selecting every second heart which I then created as the next tallest eight reliefs. These too were merged highest with the background relief.

The second heart reliefs were eliminated.

This same procedure was repeated one last time on the lowest level of heart reliefs.

The panel was then ready to be tool pathed in EnRoute. I used an island fill and 1/8" ball nose bit with an 80% overlap. The last step was to use an offset cut to trim them to shape. The panels were routed from 30 LB Precision Board. The rock work around them was done by hand using fiberglass reinforced concrete.