Using a CNC Router to Make Art

Part 1 — Brainstorming and Ideation

This is the second project I am doing for ARTS 3890 and I am going to be submitting files for the CNC router. I am interested in trying a variety of things with this project since the CNC router can create precise profiles and pockets. I want to use wood for this project because I want to possibly paint, stain, or use resin on my final products for a polished finish. I do not have any experience making files for a CNC router so I am trying to keep my designs simple.

Idea One — Ornate Frame

For this project I would design an ornate frame for a specific paper shape that would be sunk into the wooden board. I would also design a pattern or even a continuation of my central image onto the picture frame. I think as frame like this would look great if it was stained and varnished. Or I could even stress the board and then stain it for a unique look.

My sketch for Idea 1
Example picture frame

Idea 2 — Small Drink Table

I wanted to design my second idea to have some actual utility so I thought a small table would be nice to have while sitting on a couch. I would want to carve simple designs into this table and fill them with colored resin. But, first I would stain the table. I think a few circular pockets on the surface of the table would be nice for a drink or small objects. I would use a single piece of wood for the tabletop and all of the legs.

Idea 2 sketch
Example of a table made using a CNC router

Idea 3 — Coasters

My third idea is also along the lines of utility. For this project I would make a few small coasters with the profiles of mushrooms carved into the using the CNC router. I would then paint the profiles and seal them with clear resin to protect the paint. I would also glue felt to the bottoms of the coasters so that they would not scratch a table. While this would be a small project, I think it might end up being more difficult than I think because of my lack of experience. I could also put small drawings on paper in the center of them like my first idea, and then cover them with clear vinyl for protection.

My sketch for Idea 3
Example of carving

Initial File Work

I decided to go with my idea for a small table for this project because I wanted to combine my idea for the coasters using paper and acrylic with the table. I decided to keep the table design simple because of my lack of woodworking skills. For the table I will have four circular 5/8" deep pockets cut near the four corners of the table for coasters. I will also need 1/16" thick clear acrylic for the pockets. I will then insert paper cutouts into each pocket and cover them with the acrylic. The table will be made form 3/4" thick cedar ply wood. The tabletop itself will be 24"x36" with 18" high legs. The entire table will be cut out of a single piece of plywood so I have doubled the number of leg cutouts to create thicker table legs.

My table design

Final Assembly

Assembling my table after getting my parts was an interesting and educational experience in woodworking. When I got my table parts, the plywood was a bit rough around the edges. A sand with 80 grit then 120 grit sandpaper on the edges of the legs and tabletop helped with that. After sanding down the edges, it was time to apply the birch iron-on edge banding I purchased. It was a bit tough getting the curve of the table legs, but it worked out once I turned the iron up to a higher heat.

Applying edge banding
Sanded edge with edge banding
Stained legs
Stained back of tabletop
Stained front of tabletop
Legs curing onto table
Not sure why these keep getting squished
I am a fan of the stain
Closeup of the grain
Better shot of one of the corners
More corner shots
My favorite insert



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