The Llama Lounge – A CNC Sign

Today I released my first sign video.  I used my Next Wave Automation PiranhaXL CNC.  The sign was made of curly maple and finished with polycrilic.

I took my piece of wood and dimensioned it to 6″x24″, then carved the sign with a 60 degree V bit.  The font was Old English.  After programming the CNC, carving the sign, and rounding over the edges on the router table, I finished the sign with a water-based polycrilic by Minwax.  I used the wipe on version and sanded with 400 grit sandpaper in between coats.  There were a total of three finishing coats applied.

What you didn’t see:

I started this project on the wrong foot.  I had the fine people at Woodcraft cut the board I got roughly in half.  That’s not a problem.  I got the board home and went to trim and square up each edge of the board before cutting it to final length.  I was previously working on some legs for a corn hole game and forgot that I had my miter saw at another angle that wasn’t zero degrees.  This started the project off in a not-so-great fashion, but I was able to overcome that small issue by cutting each side square over on the cross cut sled.  What really got me was that I messed up the clamping process pretty good.  See, I unnecessarily had my work piece on a makeshift (not proper) spoil board and with the settings that I had, when the carving started, the work piece shifted, which meant my sign was out of alignment and ruined.  The next piece I used, everything was going great and the carve got all the way to the very last letter of the sign and guess what!  Yep, the bottom of the gantry found one of my one billion Harbor Freight tape measures that I can never find, which means the gantry jammed and it threw off the placement of the last letter.  I got a THIRD piece and was able to fix all mistakes made in the first two attempts to finally get a successful carve.

This project was a learning experience as this was my first sign of any size.  My CNC is rated for 12″ wide bny 24″ deep.  I learned that when they say 12″x24″, that’s exactly what they mean and you can’t squeeze any more out of it.  That meant that I had to be extremely preceise, especially when setting my zero points, but more specifically, the y-axis.  Even though I had to be precise, That allowed the machine to do its job, and it handled it like a champ.  Now if we could just get the operator to get it in gear…

-Robert

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