I am an engineering intern at the Dassault Systèmes Boston Fab Lab and a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Boston University. I am most interested in the intersection of art and engineering. I am always looking to learn a new craft and I developed this project to help me learn how to use a CNC router. I would definitely recommend this project to any beginner because it is relatively simple in that it doesn’t include any mating parts or require you to flip and re-zero the part.
I modeled the above design in SOLIDWORKS by extruding a sketch at a 60° draft angle. I wanted to create something that was both abstract and geometric in nature. The wave pattern is organic and possesses a loose symmetry while the triangular profile of the drafted extrudes provides a hidden geometric component.
The photo on the left shows my rendered part in Vcarve Pro. I was able to use Vcarve Pro to create a Roughing tool path, a Finish Machining tool path, and finally a 2D Profile tool path to cut out the pieces. I sent these tool paths to the Shop Bot for each piece and let it work its magic!
The Unfinished Piece:
The above photo shows my piece after its passes in the shop bot and a few passes with an orbital sander. I chose to use poplar for this project because it is an easy and affordable wood choice for beginner projects. However, I felt that the poplar’s contrasting grain patterns took away from my overall design so I decided to paint it. MDF may have been a better option for this project if I had committed to painting it earlier.
I worked my way up from 100 grit to 400 grit sandpaper and was eventually left with a piece that was ready for painting! I primed, painted, and finished my piece with a coat of water-based satin polyurethane.
The Final Piece:
Here is my final piece happy and hanging! I added some mounting hardware to the back and used a bit of mounting putty to keep everything in place. I’m happy with the result and glad that this project exposed me to multiple facets of what a CNC router can do. It’s always satisfying to take a model from SOLIDWORKS and turn it into something real.