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.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Fishing at the Institute.

I spent today at the shop working on almost finishing up the mechanical fish for our Institute sign.
I started with the propeller at the back of the fish. After thinking about how to do it for a bit, I decided on cutting four separate blades and a square block of ren-shape for the hub. I cut four slots at 25 degrees on each side of the block that would let the blades slot in. After a test fit, I spun the block on the disk sander to make it round, and ground a bullet shape tip on it.
I also added some dings so it would look very well used, then made it look like cast brass.
 I cut the mouth out of 1/8" sintra and heat bent it around the mouth opening and added a furniture tack as a hinge pin. This would also go a brass colour.
 Right from the beginning I decided that I wanted a mechanical lever that would come out of the body and attach to the tail fin. Sort of a steering linkage of sorts.
The final bit of detail would be a ballast tank that will mount on the side of the fish. I used ren-shape again on each end of a piece of pvc pipe. I ground the ends to be domed shape and added styrene bands to cover the seam joints.

I bent up some tubing and added the flanges so it looked more functional. These would supply the tank with air for diving and surfacing. I used the I-carver to machine the mounting brackets out of 1/8" sintra again. These brackets don't wrap around the whole tank, so I can "clip" it together after the final painting on the tank.

I painted the tank with rust coloured enamel and added some sand to it for some really nasty corrosion. I'll do the final paint dress when the paint is good and dry.
Tomorrow I'll be framing in the new office/design space at the new shop, so we can start to move equipment in. It's gonna be cool!


  1. Very impressive. I really like the innovative use of materials!

  2. Thanks Justin! I saw your dung beetle post, nice work!