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, December 30, 2014

Imaginarium sign done

Once the gears and the background of the sign received multiple coats of paint it was a simple matter of drilling the center of the gears and then gluing them in place using some short dowels to center them. Then I popped the lid on using a little epoxy to hold everything securely in place. Once the glue had dried I used the die grinder to even out the edges and add a teeny bit of texture to the top as well. Then I brushed on two coats of silver to finish things off nicely. The sign measures about fourteen inches across and so will fit nicely in a suitcase for its trip to Hawaii in January. Sadly, it will be traveling in my daughter's suitcase as  I won't be going along on this trip.

The sign measures about fourteen inches across and so will fit nicely in a suitcase for its trip to Hawaii in January. Sadly, it will be traveling in my daughter's suitcase as I won't be going along on this trip but hopefully I will be able to go soon.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Way finding signs

 To provide a seamless experience for the guests of the park most of the signs will be dimensional. This includes some normally mundane entrance and exit signs for the rides and attractions. The 'sandblasted wood' signs will have raised, prismatic letters in a cartoon font that matches the park logo. As always it starts with the vectors.

I used the outlines of the sign to create a flat relief.

I then used the sandblasted woodgrain bitmap to add some texture.

The lettering outlines were built as separate flat reliefs and then merged to the background  relief.

 Lastly I modified the background relief by added the bevel lettering.

There were seven of each sign plus their backs to route and they would have filled an entire 4 x 8 sheet of Precision Board. But There always seem to be an abundance of smaller pieces left over from other projects so I took a little extra time and used them instead. The next shot is of the signs glued up and ready for a little hand work with the die grinder. An hour of work will get them all ready for the paint crew.

Stay tuned for a shot of the finished pieces...


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Two more signs done

The ride signs have taken a while to finish as they were worked on between other projects. Today the Pieces of Eight and Crow's Nest signs got their finishing touches at last.

Two more pieces are not ready to load into the containers and send on their way to Trinidad. There containers full of pieces were sent in the last week with enough pieces now ready to fill there more in January. Stay tuned for more reports...


Monday, December 22, 2014

First paint

It's not very often we paint our signs in pieces and then assemble afterwards. Most often, especially for outdoor projects I like to route in as few pieces as possible and then securely glue and fasten together before the painting process began.

In this case the piece will be displayed indoors. Compared to most pieces we build this one is fragile. The only way to realistically paint it was to do the bulk of it separately and then assemble before finishing the outside surfaces. As each piece came off the MultiCam today I did a little finishing handwork and then test fit everything. Then all of the inside surfaces got their first coat of paint.

Tomorrow I'll add more coats before adding some glazes and then assembly will take place. Stay tuned...


Gearing up for a little fun

 My good fiend calls his studio the Imaginarium. I wanted to make him a sign that had some resemblance to a skeleton watch but simpler. The design had some limitations as the finished piece had to travel inside a suitcase. My friend lives in Hawaii.

I first did a quick scribble in my sketchbook to work out the basic idea. It was very rough but it gave me a chance to thoroughly work out the design before I started on the computer. The original work was done in Illustrator and these vectors were imported into EnRoute.

 I find EnRoute is the easiest tool to use to finalize shapes and work out the radii of the intersecting corners. Once I had things pretty much worked out I separated the pieces like the gears which would be routed as separate pieces.

The gears in fact would be the first reliefs I created - all as simple flat reliefs with raised and sunken portions plus different thicknesses to the two types of gears.

Once the bear and shaft reliefs were built I merged them all to a zero height relief. They would be routed as one file with a thin onion skin background so they didn't fly off the table as I routed them. Some of the gears were very small and all had little surface area for the vacuum table to grab.

The face of the piece was next. I first created a flat relief .

The flat relief was then modified using the dome tool and the outside circle vector.

I decided to create a zero height relief with that same circle vector and then merged the top face of the piece to it.

The last step was to create the lettering as an embossing.

The back of the piece was to be woodgrain. It was as simple as creating a flat relief and then adding a woodgrain bitmap texture. In this shot you can see how much I stretched things out.

The supports for the two styles of gears were done at two heights. These were done as individual reliefs and then merged highest with the wood grained background.

Then it was a simple matter of tool pathing the various rules and sending them off to the MultiCam. Because this piece was rather small and relatively thin I used 40 lb Precision Board for the gears and the top layer. It is even stronger than 30 lb and should hold up well in transit.

In the next entry I'll show how this whole thing fits together. Stay tuned...


Monday, December 15, 2014

Golf sign start

We are slowly working our way through a big list of signs for Skallywag Bay. The next major sign on the list is for the adventure golf. The routed signs are actually the smaller portion of the project. Just the same the main sign was both challenging and fun.

The first task was to commit the design to vectors.

I then opened the sandblasted redwood bitmap in PhotoShop and used the warp tool to bend it to the shape of the sign. 

The spindles/handles of the ships wheel were created using the dome tool.

The rim of the wheel was next, once again using the dome tool but fairly flat.

The last step of the wheel was the flat center piece.

I then merged all the pieces of the wheel together. After the rest of the sign vectors were built I would adjust the height to make sure it wasn't higher than the sign board.

The sign board was the next piece to be created as flat relief.

The warped woodgrain bitmap was imported and applied to the flat board relief.

At this point I merged the wheel and the sign board onto a zero height flat relief. I then duplicated the relief and flipped the copy. This would be routed to form the back of the sign.

The front section of the sign then would get the lettering, starting with the letting outline. This outline was built as a separate relief. I next would position those reliefs over the woodgrain merge them with the sign board.

The main lettering was created using the bevel tool.

The smaller lettering was created using the dome tool.

With the last of the lettering in place I could then tool path the file and send it off to the MultiCam. As usual the pieces would be cut from 30 lb Precision Board. I set the machine in motion and went on to the other work.

Tomorrow morning it will be ready to glue up.