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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Merry Dragon pub sign - part three

With the assembly of the routed pieces complete it was time to move on to the welded steel base and support structure. I designed all of the pieces in EnRoute and the MultiCam CNC plasma cutter made quick work of the cutting of the steel pieces. The base plate is 1/2" thick steel to ensure the piece is bottom heavy and resistant to tipping over if someone bumps it. There is a length of 3" x 3" square tubing that goes up the middle providing ample structural strength to the post. The steel collar welded up around the 30 lb Precision Board. I welded the steel in short bursts to keep the heat down and the 1/4" thick steel dissipated the heat nicely.

The lengthwise piece is where I will weld the heavy duty dragon bracket. I welded a second layer of 10 gauge steel plate behind the letters.

We then positioned the dragon bracket onto the post and welded it into place. This shot clearly shows the four layers of 1.5" thick 30 lb Precision Board which we glued up for the sign. We used Coastal Enterprises PB BOND 240 - a one part glue activated by spritzing with water. It tends to squeeze out the edges a little but it is no problem as we always add texture there later anyway.

In the next shot you can see where I quickly used our hand held air powered die grinder to remove the glue and a thin layer of HDU. If there is any minor misalignment of the layers this is taken care of at the same time. I also use the hand held grinder to add woodgrain to the edges, bottom and top of the sign.

The first step of sculpting the little merry dragon is to weld up a quick armature with pencil rod. The rods are glued into predrilled holes in the Precision Board. Tomorrow I'll work on the sculpt and then it is ready for paint!