IanT's Experimental Gallery

My temporary workstation for the next few weeks, covering for operators still on furlough leave, before they are gradually brought back into the workforce. A few of us spent three days last week preparing the place to cope with the new world. A skeleton crew is now up and running, and most importantly the laughter and banter is back. It’s been missed by me during the last 6 weeks.

The component being machined were modelled in SketchUp as part of the full design, and then exported as a DXF file using Simple DXF plugin for the CAM software to read.

Bad news is, the round head tenon machine is still broken in a workshop across the other side of the country.

But, having a 5 axis CNC machine gives the advantage that I’ll be able to program it (fairly easily I hope) to machine the 45 deg angled tenon components that are required to complete the current jobs. (There’s actually one on the wall between the monitor and power isolator). I have a set of LayOut drawings of the component that I can use for that.

Picking up the pieces, it’s nice to see at least some normality.


Nice machine you got there, @IanT.

For those who love to see it in action.

Thanks I was just going to ask for a video!

I’ve been doing the thing where I keep watching scroll saw videos on You Tube again. A particular video that really caught my attention were one making hot air balloons. A pattern is used that you can just purchase, but the way the pieces go together captivated me. A simple idea, that gives a really neat effect.

SketchUp got fired up and I went ahead to try and replicate the joints just from the images in the video. A lot of the guys doing the scroll saw stuff just seem to use 2d programs for their designs. But for projects such as this 3d really helps I think for figuring out the fitment correctly.

I did some small blanks and figured out eventually how to make the pieces all fit together as a snug fit.

A step further and I added an outside curve to the blanks and some inside cuts too. The shape is completely wrong for a balloon but that can be rectified…

This is how the four patterns assemble together…

I’m now wondering whether I actually have a use for one of these things if I take it further, completing the design (along with basket) and making one. It would be a nice project though.


A few weeks ago, my wife kept harping on about what to get her dad for father’s day. Anyway, one day I was walking around the shops and I spotted some beech “smoking planks” in the barbeque section. As soon as I saw them an idea popped in the brain. “I’m not going to smoke it, I’ll cut it instead to make a sign for a father’s day gift.”

So I took a few home and made up some gardener design in SketchUp as the recipient is a keen gardener (and a very good one at that). I sent the model to LayOut to export a full Scale PDF for printing. (I can’t find the model at the moment it must be on my other computer :slightly_frowning_face:)

It got printed out and stuck on one of the planks with Pritt Stik. I then drilled holes for the internal cuts and cut them out first. (There are holes missing in this image, inside the N’s and middle part as I found out later and had to do) :crazy_face:

After cutting the small internals, I then cut the main outline in one go. I cut as carefully as I cut to avoid lots of sanding. It took about 1.5 hours for that cut and there were several cups of tea consumed throughout. I were glad when it were over…

Carefully moved the 2 parts over to the bench and popped out the waste to reveal the goodies…

After a bit of sanding here and there, I painted a birch plywood backer green and stuck that on the back. Then started to spray on clearcoat which is very difficult to get in those small spaces evenly…

I called it enough after 3 coats and added some twine for a hanger. Then a quick test on the side of the shed before delivery…


A gamer birthday gift, I might be busy cutting this tomorrow…


Well, it were going fine until I painted it. Black and green screen looked horrible, the contrast were just wrong.

After a couple of cups of thought provoking tea, I decided white and black were the way to recover it. So I painstaking had to give the screen and letter internals 4 coats of white paint with a small brush to cover up the black and green. I couldn’t remove it easily with sanding. :tired_face:

It turned out being a much longer project than I expected (most of them do), but I think it worked out ok in the end…


I like the Gardener sign. Looks great!

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Recently I have been approached privately by a user having the arc flipping problems with his DXF files for CNC. I’ve been trying my best helping him along creating his DXF file using the SIMPLE DXF plugin that should hopefully solve the problem.

Anyway, it got me wanting to progress further with it myself. A feature of the 5 axis CAM software I use is the ability to use Layers (Tags) to automate toolpath assignment to DXF files. I’ve avoided it so far as it’s all a bit cryptic, at least to me.

The way it works is by saving operations in the CAM software such as drilling/routing etc. Then by using a special layer (tag) naming convention in the SKP file for the machining faces and operations, the toolpaths are assigned to the geometry and faces defined automatically on importing to CAM. Thus automating the program creation process.

It’s been of much trial and error today so far, but I’m actually getting some decent results now I’ve started getting to grips with it.

First, the Layers (Tags) are assigned to the faces required to define the workpiece, and the machining operations on those faces…

After being exported from SU, the DXF file is brought into the CAM software along with those Layers (Tags). This defines the workpiece, faces to be machined and also puts machining operations in place as per the assigned Layers (Tags).

It isn’t perfect, the side holes are flipped on the Y axis for some reason, and the order of operations could be better. But to say all I could get was a blank screen to start with, I think it’s good progress…


Four variations to start a collection of Christmas tree hangers I’m going to start making soon, hopefully tomorrow. I’ll stack cut these maybe three at a time, so that will be 12. I’ll think I’ll try some other shapes and sizes after that, but I’d prefer to keep the cutting shapes fairly simple, nice and easy.