I’ve had my X-Carve running since about early June, and I’ve got to be getting close to 200 hours of run time by now. Sheepishly, I must admit that ALL of my projects to date have either been experimentation (especially in doing 3D carves) or projects for friends who then took the carves and did the finishing work themselves.
I was asked by my boss to do a project for someone in our branch that was retiring, and I had been wanting to do something similar for myself. I decided to do my own project first, as the experiment, then do the project for the retiree in hopes I could apply lessons learned. I went through two failed attempts before finally getting things “right”. I had no problems with the X-Carve at any point, with which, by this time, I had lots of experience. My issues were all in my finishing steps, which I didn’t have much practice with.
So, without further ado…
I started with a piece of solid pine, 0.75" x 9.75" x 48", and cut it into three panels. Optimistically, I was going to use one for my project, one for my boss’, and one as a spare. In actuality, I ended up chucking my first two attempts, and had to cut up another starting piece. The 4 ft. pine boards cost me less than $15 each, though, so it wasn’t a huge loss.
I then rounded off the edges, sanded, and stained all of the panels.
I used my vinyl plotter to cut a mask out of Oramask, then painted a strategically sized portion of my selected panel silver.
Here’s where it took some failure to learn a lesson… I don’t use spray paint enough (yet?) to know if this applies to everything in a rattle can, but for the particular paints I chose, I needed to pull my mask up pretty much as quickly as possible. On my first attempt, I waited over 24 hours before de-masking, and the paint wanted to come right up with the mask like a sheet. To boot, the adhesive of the Oramask had seeped down into the wood and turned into a gooey mess. On the panel I ended up finishing out completely, I waited about 30 minutes before de-masking, and even that was a smidge too long - you can see where some of the silver along the right edge of the un-masked area peeled up. Fortunately, this wasn’t a show stopper, and I continued on with this panel.
I re-masked the entire panel, and prepared to carve. (Apologies for the focus point being a little off on the following pics - I’d switched to using back-button-focus on my camera the weekend prior, and forgot until I started trying to capture some close-ups).
Here’s where I could start to incorporate my X-Carve experience. Pro tip: for getting a perfect work zero position (in X and Y), use a 30° fine-tip engraving bit.
I used Fusion 360 for my CAD and CAM, and split the project into two stages. First a roughing pass with a 1/4" straight-cut…
…followed by a couple of detail operations using a 1/16" down-cut.
Then it was back to the garage for more masking…
…and de-masking (including some breath-holding).
This having been my third attempt, I was over the moon when I got to this point. It wasn’t perfect, however - some of the silver on the figure (from the very first paint) pulled up along with the mask, and some of the mask around the letters had curled up a little letting the paint underneath.
A little bit of delicate touch-up on both areas solved the problems, though. I used a Q-tip to dab more silver paint on the figure where needed, and used a small piece of 320-grit sandpaper to LIGHTLY sand away the errant paint around the letters.
Lastly, I hit the whole panel with a few coats of spray lacquer, and let it cure for a day.
The end result came out as good as I’d been hoping, at least.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the turnout, and I went forward with the project that my boss had requested (it included some PII, so I didn’t take pictures). The boo-boos are still visible if you go looking for them, especially on the figure, as the touched-up areas aren’t perfectly flat like the rest of the figure. From a cursory distance, however, you’d never know they were there.
The final things I think I would have done differently would be to sand the un-masked area prior to the first paint for better adhesion (and hopefully no peel-up after the second mask), and to paint the letters black as well (I thought the stain would be darker after the lacquer - oh well, the silver still looks good, it just doesn’t “pop” like I’d hoped) - on the panel I made for the retiree, I did this, and it looked really good.
Hopefully more to come soon!!