I did a smallish inlay today that was 1 1/4" square in its gross
I first cut and excavated a 1 1/4" square into the cherry chest that I
was working on. Then I cut, fit and glued in a square of Ceylonese
Satinwood veneer. Then I cut and excavated that to fit a 7/8" square
of Central American Redheart that was sawn out to slightly more than
the thickness of the Satinwood veneer, leaving a border of the
Satinwood showing. Then I cut a numeral "1" out of holly on the
bandsaw, rasped, filed and sanded, and set that in the center of the
Redheart square. leaving a scant 3/32" space at top and bottom showing
on the Redheart.
This took me almost six hours!
If anyone has a better way of doing this, I'd like to hear about it.
(who didn't get to put the first coat of finish on the chest today)
Well, the job could go faster but I allowed for programming time and for
a trial run on scrap veneer.
A /third/ run could probably be done in under a minute - but you'd
probably still want to spend at least a minute gluing and another minute
and a half sanding.
What's it going to take to get you to build one of these things for
I was actually asking for a clue on the ability of the bot to
replicate the triple inlay.
I have a 32" x 16" cherry box elevation with strong horizontal grain
and a 1 1/4"square inlay laid into it.
The choice to run both the Satinwood and the Redheart on the vertical
was to focus the eye. The Holly, naturally, has no apparent grain.
Might be bad visual theory. I've certainly been wrong before.
The 'bot could handle the cutting without problem. If you're really
fussy about wanting to hide the bit radius at the inside corners, you
could use a 1/64" bit (which would shrink the radius to 1/128").
The only ticklish place might be the serif at the top of the '1', but I
think there'd be no problem if cutting started at the top of the serif
and proceeded counterclockwise around the figure.
The only fixturing I think you'd need would be some double-stick tape.
It'd be a lot easier to cut the cherry before assembly - and perhaps to
assemble and sand the inlay elements before assembly as well.
Dunno. I've been told that, as an artist, I'm a pretty good engineer;
and that, as an engineer, I'm better as an artist. :-)
I'm not sure this has a right or wrong.
How clean a cut do you get out of that puppy on veneer? Our single
axis CNC chews the shit out of solid oak. I'd hate to see what it did
to sub 1/32" stuff.
I'm fascinated by the concept but worried about the real world
A triple inlay means that you hog out an initial square (in this
case), glue in the base veneer, hog out the reduced square (once
again, in this case), glue that veneer in and level it off enough for
the next step, and then incise for the numeral (see supra).
I know that I took most of six hours to do this but I don't see how
the bot can reduce the time to anything like what you talked about
I'd be happy to be wrong.
A sharp cutter will do a pretty good job. The edge will not be as sharp
as if it'd been cut with a scalpel, but the result (after sanding) will
I didn't take any pictures when I machined mahogany veneer. I did take
some close-up photos of the (much fuzzier) edges produced with a 1/32"
bit in some 3/4" baltic birch, and they can be seen at
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/Projects/Bevel/ exactly as they came off the
machine. In making those parts, the gross cuts were made with a 1/4" end
mill that was about ready for sharpening and the fine cuts were made
with a 1/32" end mill that had only about an hour of cutting time.
With the CNC approach, you can cut all the parts and then assemble
working from the outside toward the center. The little JBot is good to
(-0,+1/4800"), so there's not much need to worry about whether parts
will fit properly.
Well, hogging out the cherry will take the most time because it involves
the longest toolpath - but it's only a 1.25" square so it won't really
take all that long. The other parts are simple 2D shapes that only need
single-pass profile cuts. With a 2.5"/sec feed rate, it really
wouldn't take long.
I must warn you. Betty Ford is opening a wing just for CNC freaks.
I took the plunge, I blame Morris.
You haven't seen Steve Knight here for a while, eh, Tom?... Well?
Morris...looks like you have a fresh one.............
No, I can't. Manuals for the ShopBot are available for public download -
you can see what's available at http://www.shopbottools.com/support.htm
- but I should warn you that ShopBot uses a proprietary programming
language for their machines. Still, the ShopBot documentation is not a
The industry standard CNC programming language is commonly called G-code
and a quick Google search on "g-code" produced some 740,000 hits, the
first of which was a fairly good Wikipedia reference article.
Yeah, yeah, yeah - blame it on me. I like it for two reasons:  It
does way more accurate work than I can, and  it provides a reasonable
way for me to get boring production work done without /me/ having to do
it all and without having to worry about some semi-skilled person
cutting his/her fingers off.
It /is/ fun to play with - and if you're willing to build your own, you
can probably do that for less than the cost of a Jessem router table,
Mast-R-Lift, and a top-of-the line dovetail jig.
One source of stepper motors and controller cards is www.hobbycnc.com
and you can find freely downloadable control software at
www.dakeng.com/turbo.html - both can be seen on the web page at the link
Thanks Morris. I appreciate the help.
The drawings that I used to do in Inventor and AutoCad were run
through another program (AlphaCam?) to produce G code.
I'd be happy to just learn enough to use the CNC at work.
One might argue that he got six hours of pleasure out of building it. Morris
got maybe twenty minutes worth with most of that pleasure going to his thumb
which pushed the button to get the 'bot started.
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