So this Christmas, just as most more recent Christmi (that’s plural for Christmas, by the way. No, really.) I did a bit of woodworking out in the shop. Unlike the past few years, this Christmas season I had my 2010 CNC router at my disposal and decided to design and manufacture some gifts which otherwise would have been beyond my skills as a craftsman. Of course, there were some speed bumps along the way, but eventually everything came together.
This old kitchen counter top (our shop used to be apartments) was torn out and rebuilt. It makes a perfect home for our CNC.
A month or two ago my CNC router was finally relocated to it’s semi permanent home in a dedicated CNC room of the shop (more importantly, off of my father’s main workbench). Fast forward to the final days of exams here at Eastern Michigan, around the 15th of December and I had begun sketching out a rough version of a vertical gun rack for a cousin of mine who recently received his first BB gun. A few minutes of modeling in CAD and setting up proper toolpaths later and the different components were lines of code just waiting to be transformed into a beautiful Christmas gift.
Around the 20th or so I started fabrication of the gun rack, while simultaneously designing some name plates for my sister’s two horses and, as a bit of a gag, one for my father’s angus as well. All went well until the last set of gun rack parts was to be manufactured. The machine kept ‘glitching’, for lack of a better explanation at the time. After ruining two or three pieces of perfectly good raw material, I finally figured out what was wrong. The aluminum coupler between the gantry stepper motor and a through rod was not tight enough and was slipping instead of turning the way it was meant to.
All I should have had to do was tighten up one set screw to temporarily fix it. It turns out, however, that when we originally built the machine we didn’t grind a flat spot for the set screw to bite into. That we used a threaded rod inside continues to confound me, my guess is that it is all we had on hand. The fact that the machine had operated accurately for even this long surprised me. To fix this problem, I had to tear down at least a third of the machine to get to the rod, grind it, and reattach the motor shaft properly.
Three hours later, (around midnight) the machine was back in operation. It was too late to keep working, I would continue the following day. Sleep deprivation and high speed cutting tools don’t mix well.
When the parts for the gun rack had finished machining, I started working on the three signs I had planned to make. They read ‘Bailey’, ‘Danny’, and ‘Mac’. Mac is the angus, named after the respective fast food burger. While the signs were being machined, I began the assembly (read as ‘gluing and clamping’) of the gun rack.
The sign making went relatively smoothly, although a failure of motor function (my own, not the machine’s) meant I needed a band aid on one or two fingers before Christmas eve had arrived. You can see a few of the steps above, from machining the actual signs from cherry to clear coating, painting, then sanding and clear coating again to get the black inlaid text effect.
Pictured above is the gun rack as it exists in its final form. It is meant to be mounted vertically with the butt of the BB gun resting in the inset portion of the top of the box, and its barrel poking up through a hole at the top. The box can be used to store BB’s and small targets, or anything else that will fit inside it.
Last but not least, the evening before returning to school I managed to get my hands on a piece of what I believe to be some kind of Plexiglas and wanted to machine it. Having no idea what to design, and having just rekindled my already fierce love for all things ‘Back to the Future’ (copyright Universal, I’m not profiting from this, yada, yada) by purchasing the new BTTF video game, I decided that a quick flux capacitor would make for a clean yet easy quick project. The phrase ‘All I’ve got is time’ was simply the first thing that came to mind. Twenty minutes later and I was on my way out to the shop.
I had never machined plexi before. First thing I realized; Yep. That’s much harder than wood. Next time, multiple small passes at a slower feed rate. Second thing I realized; plexi makes a MESS. I will be installing a chip collection system before I machine much more Plexiglas. Overall I was relatively pleased with it, however, and plan to do more in the future (har har).
Let me know what you think, and as always, if you like what you read here feel free to Subscribe to Posts with the link at the top of this page.