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Wearable Wooden Bowtie

As I have become more comfortable pushing the limits with my CNC, I'm always trying to test out new software and expand my knowledge and ability. Most recently I dove into Fusion360 CAM to take advantage of 3D milling. Up until now i had limited myself to 2D and 2.5D work with EstlCAM, mostly designing and cutting flat pack items and signs. Design wasn't an issue but I was a little nervous that my Workbee wouldn't hold up to the hopes I had for it.


My original design had 5 rows of dots accross the tie, which I found to be a little too crowded in my 3D printed proof of concept model and 1st test cut. Ultimately, I settled on the 3 rows of larger dots to improve visibility and to show more of my chosen wood's natural features.

The first run on the CNC ran beautifully on a piece of mohagany I had pulled from my scrap bin. Using Fusion CAM allowed me to setup multiple tool paths and use clearing and finishing techniques to really make the part look great right off the machine. And then...


I setup the table saw to cut the tie free from my stock, promptly faced my my part in the wrong direction against the fence, and shaved half of the face off before realizing my mistake. Then stood there shaking my head and muttering some choice words back towards myself and hanging up my shop apron for the night and going to cry alone into a case of beer... Not really, but it was a bit disappointing to ruin a couple hours worth of work in seconds. We all make mistakes and they are way better stories when they are big ones at the very end of a job. My mistake gave me some valuable experience and I was able to adjust my setup for the part to leave less stock to hold the finished part in place and remove it with the oscilatting belt sander instead of chancing a repeat on the table saw. I also realized that the part needed some color contrast to make the design stand out.


With my head held high the next morning, I took the short walk back to my shop determined to start again. This time with a pre-prepared mahogany and poplar blank I glued up the night before. My rework also included the previously mentioned redesign of the polka dot pattern. After the table saw incident I, very cautiously, sanded the part free and thoroughly sanded the part by hand to remove any remaining fuzz and tool marks before giving it a bath in Watco Natural Danish Oil to increase the grain detail and enhance the contrast between the two species.


After finishing I left it in the hands of my very capable 8 year old shop helper, Henrik, to decide what thrift store necktie to sacrifice for the knot. I have to agree with his selection of a orange and black patterned silk tie as the right choice. Not too flashy and overpowering but bold enough to say, "I'm a confident 8 year old, and I'm gonna wear the crap out of a bowtie". He's still young, it's too early to crush his hopes and dreams just yet.  I scored a three pack of neckbands on Amazon to complete this one and leave the possibility open to make a couple more.

This project was a good way to gain some skills and experience with the CNC. I'm looking forward to more opportunities for detailed 3D milling in Fusion360 in the future. It's awesome that Autodesk still provides a hobby license for people making less than $100K for free, although they do choke off some of the more advanced features behind a paywall.  I still appreciate that they haven't gone the route of Sketchup and moved to an online tool with subscription fees for all users.