Friday, August 28, 2015

Doors of Durin Addendum

I had another go at the Doors of Durin switchplate with some modest tweaks to the print settings. As hoped for, I got less stringing (and therefore less cleanup after the fact) and less curving on the printing plate. And I hit it with some stone-texture paint before the glow layer. Yes, much better.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Speak Friend And Enter

 There has been a much-deserved to-do of late about these Frankenstein-style knife switches. They're lovely and I've run one off for one of our rooms, but between several other decorative switch plates we've already got and a limited number of suitably placed standard-switch switches in the house, I can't find a lot of places to put them. For example, in the dining room, we've got a rocker switch rather than a standard one. So what to do? Well, make my own, obviously.

The large open area necessary for the rocker switch suggested a spot suitable for an arch or doorway sort of motif which, being who I am, led to an obvious conclusion. I combined somebody else's slide-rocker switch plate design with an image which I ran through the same extruding process I use for cookie cutters and got this:

The Doors of Durin plate wasn't too difficult to design. The image is readily available and the process is, for me, well defined by now. There were some adjustments to make to the design, shoving the crown and anvil up a bit and removing some free-standing bits of the design out of the way because they take up room where the switch is supposed to be. The design is also complex enough that it strained the capabilities of my hardware. I could make a change and then come back five minutes later to see it take effect.

The print was more difficult. The plate is about as large an area as my printer can handle, so the usual tricks to prevent curling don't work well. I switched from a brim (no room around the edges) to a raft which sorta worked, but the raft curled enough to make it difficult to smush it into the underside of the plate, so it was difficult to remove in spots. Also, I somehow turned off retraction, so I had a lot of stringing to clean up. Still, seems to have worked OK.

Oh, and there was one other bit of post-processing I just had to do. It glows in starlight, right? Well...

Thank you, glow-in-the-dark paint.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another Retro Table

Now that we've got the retro coffee table in place, we developed a need for an end table which didn't clash. I started looking around for mid-century designs and liked the two-level design of this table:

I did not, however, feel that I needed to duplicate the $999 price tag. I also wanted to do something different with the legs, and was struck by the in-and-back-out curves of that mid-century icon, the Space Needle.

This was almost absurdly easy once I had the idea down. I got a basic boomerang shape in Inkscape, added 3/8" circles at intervals around the edges, and made a horizontally flipped copy. I used the Shapeoko to cut the table pieces out of half-inch birch, with pocket operations to drill the 3/8" holes down a quarter inch. Again, the fit I can get is very pleasing; the dowels connecting the two levels fit into the holes snugly, barely needing glue. The legs were just a question of a few sweeping curves cut into some planks, with notches matching similar grooves cut out of a few circles holding them together. Stain, glue, a few layers of poly, and it's the Jetsons' house:

And I think the total I spent on making the table, including buying the CNC machine, is less than what they're selling the original table for.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Super Block

Not long ago, I saw this hoplite-themed knife block:

(from here)

And I thought "Hey, that'd be a nice, easy project for the CNC machine." But in deference to my lovely and talented spouse's sensibilities, I decided a different theme was in order. And it was far too easy.

I found some superhero-shaped silhouettes, played with them a little in GIMP to make suitable outlines, ran them through Inkscape, and handed the designs to the Shapeoko, using a 1/8" bit and 3/4" birch plywood. Here's what I ended up with:

The edges came out quite nicely. A little work with 300-grit sandpaper cleared up some fuzziness and some splinters. The caped body piece gets sandwiched between the non-cape bodies and has small pegs which are supposed to fit into the holes in the base and shield/knife-holder. This is how it looks glued together.


The tolerances are rather stunning. The "foot" and "hand" pegs fit almost perfectly, requiring a bit of force to get them in and holding so well they almost didn't need glue. The Shapeoko is too much fun, and I've only been using it a couple of weeks.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Scaling Up

The dragon I posted yesterday was maybe three inches across. This one isn't.

Ruler for scale. Obviously.

I'm still feeling my way around what bits to use under what circumstances, and I really need to work on hold-downs, but the CNC machine is doing whatever I tell it to, no matter the size.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fully Functional

I did a little tightening up here and a little adjusting there and...

Yep. Machine works. No sign of that drifting to the left. I've got some other prep work to do like putting threaded inserts into the waste board to make it easier to clamp pieces down, but I've basically got it functioning like it should. I'm running a larger-scale test, but after that, on to the inlay work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

First Carve

I managed to clean out a corner of the garage so I could run the CNC machine without filling my dining room with sawdust and noise. Watching it work is insanely cool.

But how does it work? Well, needs a little tuning. There's a bit of leftward stepping going on with the finished test piece, which suggests I'm losing some moves along the X axis. Probably just need to tighten up some pieces.

But I've finally got the machine plugged in and running. Now I can reasonably contemplate cranking out wooden pieces for Castle Panic, engraved stone, inlaid furniture for Stephanie, and all manner of things.