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.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

That's some thick water!

Today I started to get to work on the water for the new sign. The water slab will reside on the top of the existing sign box. This I'm doing from type2 EPS foam. I will hardcoat it with styrospray when it gets its final shape. I was going to sculpt it by hand, as styrofoam carves pretty easy, but the one thing I dislike most about styrofoam is the mess. It gets in your shoes, in every fold of clothing, your pockets, etc. We carved a huge mountain a few years ago out of foam, and it was everywhere, for a very long time. It even found it's way to the house.

I decided that I would use the router to shape this. The dust collection on our Techno is pretty good, and I could do something else while it was working.
The good thing about using our Techno cnc to shape this, is that it will be exactly as I drew it in the computer. There isn't alot of room on the sign box, and I didn't want to run the risk of the dimensional water  impeding on the text portion of the sign.

With the outline laid out, I can be sure that nothing will be in the way of the lettering. The next step was to quickly mass it out in Aspire. I have a few sheets of 3" styro left over from the shark job, so this was immediately enlisted. I had the sheets cut to 4'X4' at the supplier, so the parts will be done in 3 sections, as the sign is 10' long.
In Aspire, I used the create shape tool set to a 90 degree dome for this. I did remember to add 3" to the length of each piece, then radius-ed the corners to be sure that Aspire wouldn't taper the shape down at the join lines. After the shapes were created, I just trimmed the component to the right length. This assures me that the shapes will blend fairly smoothly between each section. I'm not at all concerned that some of the sections look a little wacky at the moment, as I will be blending them after the glue dries.
 The top surface of the water was 3 slabs of the same styrofoam. I did rabbet in 2 channels for 3/4" plywood. The ply was cut to a width of  2" and glued into the rabbet on it's edge. I also drove long screws in from the edge, trapping the plywood and urethane glue. This serves 2 purposes. 1 was to add strength to the slabs, and 2 was to allow it to become a screwing strip to the top of the aluminum sign box.
I also quickly massed up one of the rock sections. This I will sculpt by hand. There's not alot of depth at the top of the sign. The building we are in has block walls that run about 4" past the top of the sign box, then it becomes corrugated steel siding, which sits proud of the blocks by 2". This reduces our depth where the rocks live, so they're getting a little shallow. I will have to work very closely with the seagulls when I start shaping the rock, just to be sure everything works.
So far so good! This has been alot of fun so far! It's pretty cool to be able to work on neat stuff most of the time. Even if it is for us!

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