Mixing Woodworking & CNC Machining

One of the benefits of having hand tools, woodworking machinery is that when embarking on a small project you pretty much have everything you’re likely to need. In previous blogs I’ve written about making all sorts of things by hand but one of my frustrations is my accuracy of cutting or chiselling wood. I always have good intentions but the finished results never match my expectation.

Hence getting the CNC machine.

Now I have the means to produce accurate pieces with wood and a some modelling software. Knocking up a sign or box using a pre-programmed design is simple and the results always impress. There are limitations of course, as the machine bed has a maximum capacity of two feet square but for most builds that is sufficient.

Whilst we were on a break in Devon last year, I spotted a wine rack in a shop in Kingsbridge and thought it would be a good project to make at home. I knew I had some oak timber that would be perfect but realised that the rack would need lots of joints and they would need to be neatly done or else it would look a mess.

Firstly I worked out how many rails would be required and went about planing them down to the size I thought would be suitable. I then worked out how to make the tenons and mortise using the CNC and also created a jig to ensure I could get repeatable cuts.

The CNC makes light work this type of job and I was please that the rails connected nice and snug and straight. I used a square to ensure the frames glued up true and left it overnight to ensure it dried well.

Assembling the frame to the rails was then fairly easy and soon it was starting to look like a rack. Once again I glued it up and left it overnight. The next day I rubbed down the frame with some sandpaper and added some rubber feet to the legs to finish it off, leaving it a natural finish rather than finish with any wax or varnish.

The wine rack is now situated in one of our downstairs rooms and fully stocked following a delivery of twelve bottles of wine that my team bought for me at Christmas šŸ™‚

Making Stuff Part 9

1991CC96-8B96-4C54-B8C8-185597AEBAA0_1_105_cFollowing on from the success of making the two teddy bears out of MDF as gifts for new born babies, I decided to progress the clock making using MDF rather than pine. Whilst the clock I did for my brother came out OK, it took a lot of effort to get a good finish. As mentioned in my previous blog he had shown the fish clock he’d painted to a few of his piscatorial mates and they all loved it so he suggested if I knocked out a few and he’d sell them. I therefore got about designing a few different versions so they had a choice. 71B98BFD-194B-4CA9-A775-FB6ED0B87702_1_105_cAs I was due to meet up with Alan the following weekend I had to crack on with batching them up, 7CA179DF-2D5D-49FE-9CA8-1A011DE980B7_1_105_cpainting and ordering more quartz clock parts as I didn’t have enough to cover the number of units I was making.

I’d purchased some green and grey paint as Alan had suggested these colours would be popular with fishermen and who’s to argue as they did come out rather well when sprayed up. I fitted the clock mechanism and wrapped them ready for transport. EB75365D-2FB7-45D0-B658-E8AAC9F5E152_1_105_cI did have a couple of failures, where the numbers on the face came out uneven (a human problem rather than CNC) so decided to paint them in brighter colours and one of them is now adorned on my neighbour Nick’s garage wall. Alan already had buyers for three of the clocks and he says he’s going to put the rest on eBay. I’m not sure if they’ll sell but hey I never intended to make stuff to sell so it might help me recoup some of my costs back.

Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus outbreak, our plans to meet up at the weekend were dashed so I still have the clocks but hopefully he’ll collect them soon.

7E61C3D3-3FBA-4958-A421-0DC186F6A797_1_105_cHe also mentioned my ability to make clocks to another friend and was asked whether I could make one for his mates wife as a birthday present. He sent me the logo so I got to work on the design. With the holiday we had planned having to be cancelled this week, I had plenty of time to knock out the designs and produce the two new versions of what is becoming my signature product. Again, I was rather pleased with the outcome. The same mate also asked me to make two clocks for his mum and partner’s mum so again, D49DD4EB-B29B-485D-A6B3-8D2437465E26_1_105_cI found a picture of a flower and added some simple text. They’ve now been painted and await the mechanism fitting and should be ready for collection before Mothers Day.

Another line I’ve been trying to produce is signs for homes and decided to try to create one out of plywood. I did try the same out of MDF but it didn’t work very well as part of the letters broke as I sanded the edges down.

F5C6B827-13F2-4790-BCBE-125ACDF57FC0_1_105_cUsing 18mm birch ply produced really crisp edges and was ideal for creating this type of sign. I decided to spray this in contrasting colours and even got a complement from Tina, who has been pretty indifferent to the things I’ve been making (I suppose there’s only so many ornaments a woman can have :))

2D9AEDA0-F257-491F-B415-1013A3D9FEE8_1_105_cIt’s now sitting in the windowsill in one of the bedrooms. This design came out really well and could be a best seller if I ever decided to knock out more of them.

First attempt, some of the detail didn't cut well

First attempt, some of the detail didn’t cut well

With the extra time this week I’ve also been finishing off Nick’s engagement plaque and presented it to him this week, along with the three earlier versions that didn’t come out as well as I had hoped.

V Carving in MDF wasn't great

V Carving in MDF wasn’t great

MDF then painted

MDF then painted

The final version in oak and finished with Danish Oil

The final version in oak and finished with Danish Oil

I’ve still got loads of ideas to create more things and hopefully I’ll get some more done this week so watch this space for another update soon.

Making Stuff Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, whilst making tea light holders, cutting boards and coasters helped me get to grips with my new machines, I was keen to have a go at making something a bit more substantial and stretch my woodworking skills and fully utilise my new machines.Screenshot 2020-01-24 13.55.43

On researching online for some small projects to undertake, I saw a couple versions of a stool which I thought would be useful in my new workshop. With no plans to go on, I drew up a rough sketch and went about ripping and sizing the oak planks I’d purchased. The timber was all rough sawn so I had to use my new Makita thicknesser, a great piece of kit and very versatile.

IMG_1182With the wood cut to size I then glued up the seat, leaving it overnight to dry using my new sash clamps. For the legs, I decided I would use floating tenons, a simple but effective way of joining two pieces of wood together. I had to do a bit of research on the best way to make them and ended up building a jig to use with my handheld router to create the mortise and tenons. Once cut, I dry fitted the seat and surprisingly it all fitted together with little adjustment needed. I then glued it together, screwed the seat on to the legs and then sanded and finished it off with some beeswax polish. I posted a couple of pictures on a woodworking forum I had joined and got some positive feedback and for a first attempt at making a stool I was rather pleased with myself. 013d4230-3302-4437-b5f8-2e4025df3cc1

During theĀ  summer months, I found that working in the garage was a challenge, especially on warmer days so had to limit any activity to the cooler parts of the day. I also had some house decorating to do which took me away from my workshop but I did manage to squeeze in small commission for the downstairs toilet, namely an interlocking shelving unit. Again I was pleased with the outcome and was asked to make Abby one for her flat in Jersey.

IMG_1723Next on my list was a wedding present our next door neighbours son Ben, who was getting married to Sam as both are mad on dogs I decided that it would be a nice touch to make something with that theme. I eventually came up with the idea of a key holder, made from oak with ‘his and hers’ routed out along with some paws. Again I was pleased with the results and I believe it went down well with the newlyweds.



I really enjoyed the process of making the key holder and this gave me some ideas for Xmas presents for the family but more of that in a later post.

With the summer turning into autumn I found I could spend more time in the garage so decidedĀ  to make some more coasters, coat racks and key holders that could be sold at work to raise money for charity. These small projects, whilst not very challenging are easy to knock out in batches and I soon had a bagful of bits to take in for the fundraising stall.

IMG_1580When I designed my workshop, the hope was that the large extraction unit would be sufficient to keep a check on the dust and shavings created from my new hobby but alas it wasn’t the case and I soon realised that I needed to install a method of keeping the airborne partials down to a minimum by installing a permanent extraction system. I watched a few YouTube videos and found a solution someone had designed using 42mm pipework. Whilst not perfect, using some homemade gate valves I’m now able to direct the vacuum towards the machine I’m using at he time and so far it’s worked well, with only a couple of blockages to sort.

In my next blog I’ll share details of the wooden signs I made for presents and also how I made a bespoke oak coffee table, which now has pride of place in our conservatory.