When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

It's Easy, Just Let The Computer Do It.....ya right...

Believe it or not, I don't actually have a set workflow that I follow EVERY time I set out to create something! I'm about as consistent as pure randomness can be :)

The sketch for the sign was done in a sketching program, but stuff like text, I always do in Corel first, then export it out as an image file. I figure, I'll need the vectors for the text anyway, so the beginning is just as good as anything to get them laid out. Plus, I do the vectors to actual size, so I can get a handle on the final, overall project size in the sketching software!

Then in the sketching software, every element gets drawn on a separate layer, so I can turn everything on or off, as I need.
With the text turned off, I can export a fairly clean image to bring into hexagon, this lets me see where all the leaves of the bushes belong, and they're overall shape, as the text block a lot of the leaves from view.

I started in 3d with the log, soccer ball, and the water splash, using the sketch as a basis for everything. I wont texture anything in Hexagon, as it's way more efficient to do in Aspire, when I move to that software. I did force the perspective on the log, so you could see the end better, just to give it a bit more awesomeness, and look like the original sketch.
 The leaves were next. I only modeled one, then used the modifiers in Hexagon, to bend, squash, and twist the original leaf into the rest of leaves for the bush. I did these one at a time, laying them on the sketch for size and placement.

Bouncing over to Aspire, I imported my already created vectors, and used the 'Create Shape' tool to build them up to their final 3d shape. Text is so super fast to create in 3d in Aspire, plus it's usable for machining, it doesn't make sense to create the text anywhere else.
 With everything modeled, and in place, I brought in the 3d text from Aspire, so I could do a final tweaking to the under/ overlap of the leaves on the text.

I planned from the start that this sign would actually have very little undercutting on the geometry. I'm totally OK with the final look that will give. Except for the water splash. I certainly don't want the splashing water to return right back to the sign. This will look pretty good from the side view!
So I split off all the water splashes from the trunk of the splash, as they'll get cut as separate pieces.
Once the drops were cut off, I split each one in half, and laid the flat side of each one on an imaginary zero plane. This way I can import them as a group into Aspire for machining.
I sense HDU dust in my very NEAR future!!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Emily Trudeau Splash Pad!


Recently we were contacted to create a sign for the Town of  Tweed, more importantly, a sign for a new splash pad in the Town of Tweed. This new splash pad is being created in honor of  a little girl named Emily Trudeau, who is no longer with us all. I won't go into to much detail here, but you can certainly click her image above, and the link will take you to the article about the new project.

We were given a list of everything that could hopefully be incorporated into the sign, so it was a hard task deciding what works, what doesn't work, and what things to finally settle on. Sometimes, a blank canvass can be overwhelming!! We were also supplied a preferable color palette as well.

In the end, I decided on a few items, that seemed to all work together well, without the sign becoming a collection of "stuff". I didn't want anyone quickly seeing the sign, and have to try and figure out what it was.
Soccer was a big part of her life, she loved splash pads, butterflies, and carnations as well. And I really wanted the final piece to be fun! Something that if I saw it, would make me smile, and a smile is a pretty big gift to be able to give someone!

Hmmmmm.......... Now I gotta figure out how to build this thing ;)

Thursday, 23 July 2015


With all the components painted, it was on to upholstery! A sewing machine is not my most favorite piece of machinery, actually sewing is my least favorite activity that we do. Fortunately, we don't get to do it all that often! You can't actually see it clearly in the pictures, but we also added a magazine pouch, in-case they need it!

 All in all, it is quite a simple little set.
And this is approximately what the final comp will end up like. If it was lit properly, and the tarmac didn't have our screw cabinet sitting on it, I'd believe it was shot inside a plane!