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.

Monday, 28 April 2014


Our current build actually started last Thursday! This is my reference material for the build.
Production needs 4 different jet fighter cockpits for an upcoming shoot. This build is going to work hand in hand with the CG fx team. We're building the immediate area around the pilot, so they can get shadows etc.
This has pretty much been my work all weekend! You wouldn't believe how exhausting it can be pulling geometry from a 3d model, cross referencing it with the scale model for accurate sizing. Then flattening out the pieces for cutting on our Techno.
 Today I started routering some of the geometry. I'm finding it hard to draw the entire thing without seeing exactly how some of the components will come together in real life. Because we're building these in movable sections, it can be a bit mind numbing figuring it all out at once.
On the bright side,  I got a nice break from the computer at the shop. This was due entirely to little Finley rolling in something amazing in the field out back! Thanks little guy :)
This is the side wall rib assembly for the F4 Phantom. Oh....it's simple now, but that wasn't the case early in the job!
I also got the front canopy framework built as well. There's no actual canopy glass going in this build. That'll be left up to the awesome work of Digital Effects!

I fear a very long week awaits.............................................................


Thursday, 17 April 2014


 I was sent a link to the Cadbury commercial we worked a bit on, so I thought I would post the final outcome!
The egg rolling down the railing at :22 was the 3D printed eggs!
I do believe this was shot at the ROM in Toronto!
Thanks again Tim for a great project!

Because they're not real!!

While we were on set last week, another super quick job came through. As there wasn't enough time to get the materials in, I had to turn to a friend of ours for some help
The goal was to create this well known candy for a commercial shoot. There needed to be 2 different sizes.
The first size needed to be a 1 to 1 scale copy. These would become "Stunt-Eggs" Eggs that wouldn't melt, or get squashed, or develop flat spots. In the end we 3d printed these ones. Hollow, light, and durable. These prints got wrapped in the actual foil label from the candy, and were indistinguishable from the real candy.
The second part of the job was this colossus egg! At over 50" tall, with a width of 42". Very big and awkward to handle. Due to the timing of everything that was going on, we had our friend lathe it on his 4 axis hotwire cutter out of foam. Once that was done, it was hardcoated with a 2 part spray urethane.
The art director, and props buyer, both made the trip to the shop, bringing the rather large printed labels for it. They had the labels printed on chrome mylar, and they looked great! One of the benefits to this was that the foil went on all wrinkly, just like the actual candy!
I had Pina, the props buyer, stand next to the egg for scale! It was a bit of a PITA to wrap, but in the end it looked great!
Before long, the production team had gone, and the shop was egg free once again!
A super quick job, but a lot of fun!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Time Machine Update!

It seems all of our work lately has been stricken with non-disclosures. This is too bad in a way, because I really like writing about what were working on at the moment. At least I'll have content to post later!

As far as the update goes, I don't know the actual release date yet, but I did find the trailer on You-Tube!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Weird Things On My Desk#2

A foam rc plane, and a 3d printed dragonfly body!

3D water sculpt
I ended up having to drill .020" holes into the deeper low spots, so I could get them to suck down tight.

 Putting the mold back on the cnc went swimmingly! And they trimmed out quite nicely!

In the end, it all came out great! I really wanted to remove the masking from the PET-G, but I needed
to keep it as scratch free for delivery.
Another short run job for us in the bag!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Cutting water on the Router!

Our next, short run gig, is a small job for an associate I used to work with years ago on Zoom.
He has an install in a museum in Japan I believe.

Basically he just needs 3, 18"X18" sections of clear plastic that will represent the waters surface in a display.
This will be vac-formed for sure, and MDF fits the bill perfectly!

The water surface is a total of .4" from peak to valley, but I'm going to machine from 2 layers of 3/4" MDF to discourage any warping that would occur at a smaller thickness. 100 lbs of weight, and some clamps to prevent sliding, was all it took to get my slab.

The file was supplied to us, and we cut it in under 20 minutes with a 1/2" ballnose cutter.
A couple of light coats of water based urethane was used to stop the MDF furries from rearing their ugly little heads, followed by a quick sanding. The mold was made oversized, and will get put back on our Techno to trim the pull to the right size.
We have been using a "new to us" primer, that I absolutely love! It's a polyester primer, that gets catalyzed with fiberglass resin hardener. Smells terrible, and you MUST use a respirator when spraying it. But man-O-man, I love this stuff! Sprays on nice and thick, covers small seams, and is sand-able in less than an hour! I sprayed around 300ml onto the surface so it would be nice and thick, and eliminate any tooling marks. The whole thing was then finish sanded, and buffed with wax.

I picked up the .125" PET-G that were going to use, so were ready to pull first thing in the AM. We don't have to do any scenic to the panels either, the client will do that part.

I'll do a test pull tomorrow morning, just to make sure I don't need any suction holes drilled through the low spots. But I think it'll be good!