Oneshop Redding | Making a New Wasteboard | CNC Shapeoko

After years of use, the Shapeoko has started to get a little sloppy. Since I started using the CNC machine, I've noticed that after cutting operations, it would often leave a slight onion skin on my part. This means the router is at a slight angle, or your stock is not flat in relation to the bed.

One of my favorite content creators in the CNC world is Winston Moy. He makes a lot of tips and tricks videos and shows his processes when trying new materials and tools. He recently came out with a video on how to properly tune the Shapeoko 3 and making a new wasteboard which is precisely the same machine I have access to at my local makerspace. The main thing that attracted me to his video was his tutorial on how to make a new wasteboard. A wasteboard sits upon the base of your CNC machine and acts as a bed for your stock. The reason it is called a wasteboard is that once you finish your cut on any project, you can then remove a thin layer of the bed to zero it out. Making sure you have a perfectly flat workplace. Part of the design includes using thread inserts coming up from the back of the bed so that you can secure your stock with screws or clamps.

For the 3D design of the wasteboard, I decided to have a 1.5" length in between each pocket that holds the thread inserts. I had to figure out a way to bolt the new bed onto the existing one and to do it without having to make any new holes in the metal base of the machine. I was able to do that by locating four screws and removing them. Then I would need to buy longer ones to pass through the new bed and into the base. The Shapeoko 3 has an advertised bed of 16"x 16" in its X and Y-axis. I did notice, however, that the machine isn't quite big enough to have a 16"x 16" bed, so I had to make it 16"x 15" instead, the router couldn't travel that extra inch in the Y-axis.

While I was setting up the new bed, I noticed the Z belt kept either falling off or just was loose. So I tightened that up and squared the belt so that shouldn't happen again. After securing the new piece of MDF to the existing bed, I used a 1/4" downcut two flute coated endmill from Toolstoday and started my toolpath. I first cut the four holes that would attach the new bed onto the existing one, then flipped it over and cut the holes for the thread inserts. 

I ran into an issue as soon as it started the drill hole operation. I could have sworn I set it up right by having it retract every 2mm, which would prevent the endmill from recutting the same chips as well as chip evacuation. It didn't withdraw like I thought it would, and so the chips got stuck in the hole with the endmill, and it started smoking from the chips rubbing against each other, at which point I shut it down. MDF is made up of wood fibers held together by a resin-based binder and creates a powdery substance when cut. Since it's so fine, it can also catch on fire very quickly, which would have been a significant problem as pretty much everything would go ablaze. The reason the chips couldn't properly evacuate was due to the endmill being a down-cut vs. upcut bit. A downcut bit will move the chips as it cuts them down, and an upcut bit moves them up. I didn't have any upcut bits, so I ended up having it cut only 1/8" vs. the 13/16" I was initially trying, and manually drilled the rest out.

I then took my thread inserts and started inserting them into the wasteboard. I didn't have the proper Allen-key for this, however, and ended up having to fashion my way around it by using a flathead and drill. I ran into an issue right away; the thread inserts were slightly larger than the hole for them. I initially tried just forcing them in by applying pressure on the drill as I wanted to get them inserted. Which only caused the holes to strip and make them useless. I tried just drilling the holes slightly bigger, but even that wouldn't work, I tried using a 5/16" drill bit, but that was somewhat too large. I ended up having to drill it partway through with the 5/16" and then forcing the inserts the rest of the way. It solved the issue, but since I didn't have the right allen-key bits, I couldn't get them perpendicular to the board and so some of them were at a slight angle.

After I got all the thread inserts into the new wasteboard, it was time to shave off a layer and tune the trams holding the router. I started with using a surfacing tool I got off of amazon. This allows me to remove a few thousandths of an inch after each operation, ensuring I have a completely flat workplace. After doing a single pass over the wasteboard, you could visibly see line marks where the tool passed; this is due to the router being at a slight angle to the rest of the machine. This can be fixed by adjusting very sightly the tram that the router sits on forward or backward, depending on what needs to be changed. At this point, it's pretty much trial and error until you're pleased with how it sits. It would require a ton of work and be nearly impossible to have it completely flat without any visual or physical deviation in the wasteboard.

I was able to attach it to an existing bed without a hitch successfully. I then tried to screw in some small clamps to hold my workpiece in place but couldn't get them to work right since the thread inserts were at slight angles, which were amplified through the clamps and couldn't sit flat on the stock. I can't use it with the clamps as I had intended and will need to be remade with the proper tooling to be able to use the clamps, which is a project for the future. As it stands, the new wasteboard will work great for non-clamp related work holding, namely double-sided tape for smaller stock.

Oneshop Redding | Custom Business Ornaments | Laser Engraver

I was recently contacted by a church friend to design and make 50 small wooden ornaments for gift baskets they where giving to their top clients.

I did some quick calculations and looked online for the cost of the wood necessary for the project and quoted her $1.45ea. I found the wood would cost me $12.00 off of Amazon, which gave me five sheets of 300mm x 200mm x 1.5mm, and I could fit 11 per sheet at about 70mm in diameter; this would yield me enough plus a couple extra for mistakes. 

For the wood, I decided upon basswood as it was one of the cheaper materials which had excellent rigidity at about 1/16". If I weren't looking for something so rigid, I would probably go with something to cut faster so the overall machine time would be lower.

For securing the wood to the bed of the laser cutter, I just used some double-sided painters tape, which worked out quite well and was easy to remove afterward.

For the actual design process was very simple, I used adobe illustrator to design everything. She wanted her business's logo on the front and "Thank you" engraved on the back and a single 8mm hole on top to attach a string.

The runtime was 9 minutes for the back and 14 minutes for the front. I started with the end as it would be easier to work with because the text didn't need to be perfectly centered.

After getting the first sheet of 11 done and working out some of the kinks, I was able to whip through the rest pretty quick and sanded the edges where necessary from burn marks and where it didn't cut all the way through.

Oneshop Redding | Setting Up a Coolant System | Shapeoko CNC

After successfully cutting aluminum with pretty decent quality, I wanted to improve the efficiency of it. The major problem I tried to solve was that of coolant. I've tried running the machine without coolant, and it works just not well; it overheats way too fast and leaves burn marks.

With coolant works much better and I sat there and watched the machine the whole time spraying it with compressed air and pure wd-40 lubricant, which was time-consuming and meant I couldn't leave the router to work on other projects.

After posting about cutting aluminum on Instagram, someone mentioned that there was a product just for this issue. I was already aware of its existence, but not sure about the price and how easy it was to setup. After doing a bit of research, I came across this video, which explained how to set up a cheap coolant system with an air compressor and liquid coolant. The way it works is it combines the compressed air and liquid coolant and sprays it out through an adjustable nozzle pointed at the tool.

The video had links to all the different products I would need, and so I purchased them all, and they came in the following week.

The setup was straightforward. The only thing not listed was PTFE tape, which allows it to have a perfect seal, and no air leaks out. I also added for ease of use was magnets. I bought two large magnets from Lowes and attached one to the router base on the Shapeoko and the other to the side of the mist system. I wanted a simple detach system as this machine commonly for cutting wood, and the mist system would get in the way pretty quickly.

I found that the air regulator 20 PSI that he recommended in the video was not enough for what I wanted, so I just raised that to 30 PSI, which worked well for my projects.

Once I started up the machine, I knew I had a problem right away. The magnets I got started sliding around from the vibrations of the router, which was not good. From the vibration, it meant that if I had the nozzle positioned wrong, I could get knocked into the tool which would grind and possibly break it or have an equally disastrous outcome.

A quick solution was to glue some pieces of wood to the sides of the magnets; this makes them sit parallel with each other and prevent vibrations from moving it in the vertical direction. The wood worked to a certain extent, but it didn't feel very sturdy and didn't look very pretty, so I designed a simple brace for the magnets to sit on so they fit inside of each other and keep things sturdy; which I will cut out of aluminum later.

Oneshop Redding Lazer Engraving Guitar Picks

I started a small side project for my sister on the laser engraver.

She wanted a series of guitar picks laser engraved with some specific quotes and Bible verses as a gift to her boyfriend.

The lighter ones at the top are oak and the bottom darker ones are coconut. I believe she got these off of Etsy.

I did a couple of test runs on some scrap wood to make sure everything looked fine and had the right color tones. Everything looked fine so I exported each design separately and manually did each one. I probably could have done it all at once but I didn't want to take that big of a risk.

I only messed up one and that was the heart and initials, I set the home to be a few millimeters higher than I meant to and so it sat a bit high on the pick.

Unfortunately, the coconut ones where so dark it's hard to make out what they say and there really isn't anything that can be done for that. My sister asked if it was possible to inlay it with a gold plate but it's not really viable for this situation as the lettering was so small that it would be hard to get it in. In addition to that, the laser goes by layer by layer which leaves small line marks if you look closely.

My father actually mentioned something to me a few weeks ago that I hadn't really thought about. A paint or powered base coloring that would get melted or fused with the material to give it coloring. After doing a bit of searching I did find a paint that does just that. I'm really curious about what it would turn out like so I may order a bottle in the near future.

Oneshop Redding Cutting Aluminum (part two)

Over the past few days, since I did the first aluminum cut, I've been researching the most efficient ways to cut aluminum with a clean finish.

I found that the vertical cutting height should be much higher than my previous 0.2mm. This time I set it at 6mm cut depth and place it at 0.1mm optimal load; the sound wasn't quite like I would have liked, so I tweaked it a bit and got to sound a bit better.

I also found that using compressed air helps with chip removal; I already knew this, but I found with a combo of compressed air, and the silicone gets a clean-cut, and you can see what's going on.

I was able to cut down the stock to about 5mm and then start cutting out the logo design that I modeled a few weeks back. It all went very smoothly without any hitch, though I did have to be there as I didn't trust it on its own.

I started with a 1/4" 4 flute carbide bit to mill out the smaller stock, then switched over to a 1/8" 4 flute carbide bit to clear out the shallower areas and to do the final touches.

The significant difference between this cut and the previous cut operations I did the other day of the same model as I didn't understand how to set the Rest Machining option; this means the rest of the stock to cut from the previous operations.

I tried something new here as well, which was taping the underside of the stock and the board and glued the two sides together for a more secure fit. I did this primarily because I knew I wanted to cut the part out of stock, and I didn't want it loose.
I noticed that toward the end, one side of the stock was higher than the other and so I started cutting into the tape before its final pass, which was not ideal.

Since I had to be there watching and blasting it with air, it was not ideal. I've got an idea to add a few nozzles which I can attach to the air compressor so I can let it run on its own.

So the bits I got from my brother (see earlier post) were for cutting steel and titanium, which, as it happens, is not ideal for cutting aluminum. I thought it would be just using a harder bit than necessary but would work just as well, but not.