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CNC Carved Ash Craft Show Sign

A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers, who is also a wood enthusiast, reached out asking about helping him out with a sign for his wife and daughters to take with them to craft shows. I was, as always, happy to oblige.


My coworker's area of expertise is more in the realm of fine woodworking, and he easily could have carved what he was looking for by hand, but he had a narrow timeframe to get it done before the next show and I was easily able to make some space in my schedule to save him a few hours of chisel work. The first order of business was to get his shop logo into a state that I could easily work with. The original (pictured above) was hand drawn and sent as a bitmap and needed to be smoothed and reworked into something that could be scaled easily and would look clean as a carving. Channeling my inner graphic designer, I got to work on Inkscape and was able to get a more conventional two color version worked out that I could use to generate good tool paths.


About this time is where I started to have a little nervousness and anxiety about doing this sign. I was delivered a rather large and carefully prepared blank to carve the sign on. A big circle, 24 inches in diameter, glued up from 6/4 Ash. It was a magnificent specimen, and I was about to slice and dice with a robot router that could, at any moment, decide that this was going to be a really bad day. Sooo.... after carefully masking the show face of the blank, I did what I should have done on many of my past fails and pulled out a chunk of particle board and ran a test cut of the .gcode file. To my elation, everything went off as planned and now satisfied that any mistake I made from there on out was 100% out of my control, I secured the blank to the table and got ready to make some chips.


On most projects a simple carve like this wouldn't be concerning but my fear on this one was wrecking the supplied blank and not having a backup plan to meet the deadline. Luckily for me, and for my coworker, it cut like butter and there was very minimal cleanup due to the nature of the Ash. It's long and straight grain and relative softness as compared to some of the other commonly available hardwoods in our area makes it a great option to get good detail with little to no chipping or tear out. But that is where my time expired and I had to ship it back to its home. Once making it safely back to Rome, it was swiftly stained, the masking peeled, and finish applied.  Leaving just enough time to dry and cure for its big reveal at the craft show less than 48 hours later. I was happy with the results of my portion of this project, and I'm happy that it came together smoothly and without any mistakes. I hope that it find's a long life in circulation to all of the craft and furniture shows in the Central New York region.

But most of all... I hope my coworker's wife or daughters don't drop it on their toe when they are setting up at the shows because it's really damn heavy for a sign.


Thank you to my coworker, Harold, for giving me the opportunity to help him out. I enjoyed doing this project for him and he was very generous in his payment for the completed work. Little did he know, I'd have done it for free. lol. If you want to see some beautiful furniture that he has built, check out his page @3DaughtersCabinetry on Facebook.