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.

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Power of the Beaver!

 Machining of the beaver plaque took around 2 hours total on our little Techno. This included roughing with a 1/4" ballnose, finishing with a tapered 1/8" cutter, text cleanup, and finally a cutout pass.

One of the processes I taught in Indiana was the text cleanup process that removes the jagged edges around text and components. The jagged edges can be the result of the resolution settings in Aspire 4 when the model is first created. Our little Techno is moving pretty quick, considering the z axis is actually moving up and down due to the underlying texture that was applied in the model.
The cleanup pass was done with a tapered 1/16" ballnose cutter. The difference between the bottom text vs. the upper text is night and day.
Due to the beaver head being quite thick, and keeping the whole relief in a 2" thick slab of HDU, it left the rest of the plaque a little thin. Not really a problem, as I had always planned on using 3/4" MDF as a backer plate. The weight of the MDF made the plaque feel really beefy! It also allowed for easy mounting to a wall. (Hopefully they WANT it on their wall :)) We used a urethane glue and clamped it over night.

Once the glue had dried overnight, and some little parts were further cleaned up, we got a couple of good coats of exterior acrylic primer applied.
 The entire sign was then sprayed out in a very shiny brass color. When we apply the glazes, the base color can get pulled back quite a bit, so the brighter the better right now!
Most of the metallic colors we use are the Rustoleum Metallic Accents paints. Readily available, and amazing metallic for a water-based paint. The first glaze coat was done with the classic bronze, and once that was dry, the rich brown was added for the final darkening.
Once the 2 glazes has dried, the plaque looked great!

 I decided that I wanted to add the polished metal look to the text and borders, just to add some bling!
This was done in our usual way with the metal powders buffed over gloss black. And as this is in inside sign, I didn't have to clear coat any of the metal. The Pearl-ex powders are guaranteed not to tarnish, so any indoor handling wont leave finger prints. Woo-Hoo!

We presented the plaque at lunch while we were at the little restaurant, and I do believe that they loved it. It will be interesting to see where they hang it!


  1. I've been admiring your beaver. The colors are sweet. I just "borrowed" them for a panel I'm making. I was trying to envision how I would have approached the project, and realized I don't have much experience with beavers. Is animal husbandry taught in Canada? Yours appears pretty smooth, while I assumed the beaver would be much more hairy. I need more experience. It may just be that the beavers in the U.S. have more. Either that, or you folks up north shave them?

    1. The beaver is a tricky animal, I'm 42 and the beaver is still quite a mystery to me as well.