Jointery – 2nd Try

While thinking about what I want to ultimately do for my midterm, I realized that it would be a good idea to try and perfect the joint I’ll be using in order to save time. A double rabbet joint should suffice for the credenza I’ll be adapting from this work plan.

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I ran into a few problems when attempting this type of joint. First, I created two identically measured pieces in Vectorworks and brought it into Mastercam and then to the CNC machine. I laid down the wood only to realize once I had everything set and I was about to press “start” that I had aligned the wood improperly on the bed.

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I needed to set it up so that the blank area of the wood was along the X axis not the Y. So I re-positioned it and then I was all set to go.
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After about 12 minutes here’s what I ended up with:

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Not a great fit, I know, but it allowed me to see where I needed to subtract from each piece.
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I went back to Vectorworks and Mastercam and made my adjustments.
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By the end of that run cycle I ended up with two pieces that fit together almost perfectly!

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When I looked at the two pieces fitting together very closely I realized that in Vectorworks I didn’t round the corners on the inside of the pockets which could be why they weren’t sitting entirely flush.

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Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with the progress I had made and what I learned from taking the time to really get this joint down. I’d like to know how I can figure out the math behind this without having to make two identical parts first.

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This weeks assignment to make a joint with the big CNC proved to be a very challenging task. Getting the tolerances right mathematically stumped me a bit and it was hard to conceptualize what was going to happen in a 2D model in Vectorworks. You’d think a simple looking joint like a half lap would be easy to figure out — it wasn’t! I decided upon a half lap joint in order to make a short corner bookshelf. Once I got home though, I realized that the 90 degree angle I had planned to put the furniture was anything but 90 degrees. Now I think I’ll make a short TV stand instead for the midterm.

In Vectorworks I ran into a lot of problems figuring out where I needed to add tolerance and how to go about adding it without ending up with a solid filled shape.

Unfortunately the first attempt to mill didn’t work out because of a common problem placing the X axis all the way forward on the Y axis when zeroing out. The next day the I was able to start milling!

Mastercam was a bit of a nightmare this time around. It wouldn’t let me mill completely around the left square so I had to invididually set each side of the square which is why I think I ended up with a nasty looking edge on one of them. Also the mill didn’t cut all the way through my material even though I set the breakthrough to 0.05 and I rounded up my material thickness. I may chalk that up to the spoil board being pretty wobbly and the position of the wood on the machine was further back to avoid any X axis problems again.
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After having completed my weird looking probably not a real sturdy joint skill exercise I’m a little freaked out about using joints for the midterm. I’ll definitely need some help figuring out how to do the math associated with tolerances and jointery in general.

The big CNC


In the kitchen I find myself using a cutting board a lot, which is not surprising really…there’s one thing I’ve noticed though, about the transportation of the chopped and sliced produce into the pots and pans on the stove — there’s no easy way of doing this without picking up the whole cutting board. I don’t know about you but you I have a pretty hefty chunk of wood as my current board and lifting it over a stove in order to shove the uncooked food into a tiny pot would be a little ridiculous. That’s why having a nice hole in a light, smaller version of the cutting surface would be ideal to avoid making a mess while cooking. But do I make the hole round or rectangular? I don’t want the food to go over the edges so I may make the groove you often find around the edges of a cutting board.

Now that I’m putting together the finalized file in Vectorworks I decided upon a circular shape for the food hole. And the groove will have to be uncurved due to the 1/4 bit not being rounded.

During the milling process there was a brief moment where I thought the cutout circle was going to go flying so I paused the machine. I suppose it was a bit too big and should’ve been screwed down. Noted for next time. Other than that the big CNC definitely has a lot of crazy potential and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The most intimidating part by far was using MasterCam. The program was a bit finicky about where to press when selecting a shape and the number of buttons was a bit overwhelming. Haiyi and I both did our separate projects while supervising each other and that helped a lot – as did Ben helping us out when we got stuck with MasterCam. I’d be interested to use a different material with this machine next time. This was the first time I used wood for a skill builder and it turned out to be very satisfying. I’m happy with the results and will probably try making a cutting board with natural wood in the future.

One other thing I realized was the machine was definitely slanted just a little because when I went to take the cutting board our of the remaining plywood, the breakthrough didn’t go through on the farthest side on the X axis. Regardless, I was able to sand down the chipped wood.

For future reference: I used a down bit for this project and went to Prince Lumber for materials. The file was developed in Vectorworks.

CNC Cutting Board from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.


Jig & Coin Mill

My goal for this assignment was to engrave an “S” into a coin. At first I thought I might want to carve my own coin from aluminum but once I realized that I couldn’t get the 90 degree angel’s I wanted from an 1/8th inch bit I thought it may be cool to carve into a Euro instead. I chose an “S” for my wife’s name Sadie.

To begin, I fit my 1/8″ bit to the Othermill and then had to remember to download the Delrin custom tool library for brass because Euro’s are made of a combination of brass and nickel in the middle of the coin where I’ll be engraving.

Once I put together the file for the Delrin rig in Vectorworks I couldn’t figure out how to export it as an .svg file in order to import it to Bantam. I asked around and realized that I needed to bring the file into Illustrator in order to re-save it….and then it took me a good 15 minutes to figure out what to export it as. Turns out you need to export it to an .eps file in order for Illustrator to read it.

Once I did that it wasn’t entirely obvious whether I should keep the art board that automatically came with the .eps file once I imported it. After importing the .svg file from Illustrator I did not get what I expected in Bantam. After deleting the square I made outside the circle and adding a bit of a stroke to the circle constraining the art board to the size of the circle, I was able to get things looking the way they should.

I set the advanced properties on Bantam Tools to cut in the inside because I feared that leaving the settings as they were on default would cut the circle larger than I wanted.

I’m having a lot of trouble getting the “S” to show up in the Bantam program. It seems like it’s only taking the art board because I’m getting an outline of the board but not the “S”. The problem was that it was saving as a text file which wasn’t being read properly by Bantam so I had to rasterize the S to make it an image in Illustrator. I resized the image and set the engraving so it would engrave the middle.

Of course I took the jig off the bed which entirely ruined the point of making a jig so I quickly put it back and made another circle on the other side of the Delrin so I could make a precision “S” in the coin. I’m pretty happy with the results although I would have liked it better if it didn’t make a crazy noise and I had to stop it 3/4 of the way through the process once I stopped it to clean the debris.

I tried making it again with another 2 Euro but it immediately sounded bad once the bit hit the material so I halted production.

I really like using¬† the Othermill and could’ve spent many more hours experimenting with it if I didn’t have to share the machine!


CNC Milling a 2 Euro Coin from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.

Skill Builder# 2 – 2.5 CNC machine

Using this small mill machine was a lot of fun once I was able to figure out how to use it! Initially I wanted to make an Ace of Spades card out of the yellow acrylic but Ben pointed out the “A”s were too small for my bit to handle so I went with a lightning bolt and cloud instead. One mistake I think I made in the process was creating a 1 pt stroke around my cloud and lighning bolt which made the line way too thick. As a result, my final piece came out really rounded and you can see how thick the line was cut out when I put the cloud piece back in the spot it was taken out of (see picture in album). I certainly learned a lot and next time I’ll be more careful about how I put together my illustrator file. The video documentation is sped up 300%.

I found the icon through google images here and separated the lightning bolt from the cloud in illustrator to load it into the Bantam program.

2.5 CNC Machine

2.5 cnc machine from Marco Wylie on Vimeo.


Skill Builder: Router

The hand held router was fun to use and easy to get the hang of. My first try it sounded it a bit loud and Ben pointed out that I may have too much of the bit exposed. Once I lowered it there was no problem with shaking or inconsistent depths. Anita and I crafted a design into a piece of wood using straight lines and the circle jig for angles and…well…circles. I have to remember to use it clockwise!

Subtraction: Router