Tuesday, October 15, 2013

CNC Router Sign "And We Give Thanks"

What's a CNC Router, you ask?  It's a carving machine that will carve what you program it to carve.  We have a Carvewright by Craftsman and are working hard to get to know it better and all the things it is capable of.  I have made a few projects with it, but nothing like what it is truly capable of yet.  Have you ever felt like a machine was smarter than you and could definitely do more, if only you knew how to talk nicely to it?  Well that is where I am with my Carvewright.  This weekend, I decided it was time to really put it to use again and try hard to learn the cnc router software that comes with the Carvewright. (Meaning, try not to let it get the best of me.  Good news is I was able to do a simple sign.  Whew step 1 done!)  
So today, I carved a sign for Thanksgiving with it.  A simple sign with just words, and a graphic that comes with the software.  And now to let it carve.  Programming is tricky, even for the simplest of signs, and having the right space around the carvings is key, otherwise you have to build a jig for the wood you are carving to sit into (I wasn't quite ready for that yet, so adjusted my carve size to fit easily on my selected wood).  
For this carving, it used a 1/16th carving router bit.  And took about 50 minutes on best to carve.  
I held my breath, hoping it would turn out OK.  And when it finished carving, this is what we had.  Before sanding.  Not bad if I should say so myself.  I was pretty pleased with it.  (This is where I back up and admit, we have had this machine for 3 years, and have broken it at least 4 times.  And just sent it back to the company to have it totally re-done and upgraded and we weren't entirely sure if it would hold up.  We were praying it would!  In the 3 years we have had it, I have only gotten about 6 good projects from it.  And maybe another 6-8 really bad unusable ones between machine breaking.)  So we really are thrilled to see THIS:
From here we sanded the sign good with 220 grit sand paper.  Then I decided to add a little white paint to the top of the letters before I stained it so that they will POP and be easy to read.  I also wanted to add some colors to the fall leaves too. 
NOTE: If I did this over again, I would add brighter, lighter colors to the leaves, because when I stained them they turned even darker instead of popping with color.  
Next step....let's stain.  I used Minwax Polyshade American Chestnut Satin stain.  
Key to staining was to puddle over the carved parts, and then as it is settling, take a clean rag and wipe off stain from where paint is.  That allows stain in lower carved parts to darken nicely.  Be careful not to let stain puddle on top of letters or around letters.  I use a foam brush to wipe stain gently across rest of board.  
Then let this first coat dry completely.  I recommend overnight.  This is key, because you don't want any of the stain wet when you sand between coats of stain.  
I lightly sanded with 400 grit sandpaper and added another coat of stain.  Allow to dry completely again.  Lightly sand with 400 again.  Then use a tack cloth to take off sanding dust.  Then I sprayed it with Minwax clear coat.  I used a gloss finish clear coat for the look I wanted.  
Apply two coats of clear coat allowing to dry completely between coats.  (I know, staining and clear coating takes the longest of all of these type of projects....this is my least favorite part...but I find if you patiently do this, the signs will last longer and hold their look better longer!)
And this is the FINISHED project.  I love how it turned out.  Now where to hang it?  Hmmm?  I'm thinking it will join my Thanksgiving mantel (after Halloween, of course) before I hang it on a wall somewhere in the house.  

Do you have a favorite color of stain?  I used to love Olde Maple, that I can no longer find in our hardware stores.  This American Chestnut isn't bad either.  What do you think?  

Like this project?  Try these too:

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  1. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!Keep up the good work.
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  2. I love it Pam! It totally looks professional! I am glad the machine worked so well for you, I think I would really enjoy a "toy" like that!!

  3. I looooove it! that sign looks amazing I want one for me LOL!!! Great job!

    Cami @ TitiCrafty

  4. Love this sign, it's so beautiful and you are so talented, Thanks so much for sharing at the Krafty Inspiration Thursday party. I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to this week.
    Happy Thursday
    Maria @ Krafty Cards etc.

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