Oneshop Redding | Lake California Wall Map | CNC Shapeoko

A few weeks back, I started a new project to mostly trying out the epoxy resin. I've seen a couple of people on Etsy make wall maps of local lakes and thought it would be a pretty cool idea to emulate with a local lake that our community is based around.

I needed an overhead view of the lake and convert it to an SVG in which I could use in Fusion360. I first went to the local community website to see if they had a decent photo I could use. The majority of the images they had were of low quality, and I couldn't use them. I then headed to google maps, after zooming in on the area I wanted I was able to capture a snapshot of the screen and bring it into adobe illustrator. There I was successful in converting it into a traceable SVG. 

Once I had the SVG, I was then able to take it into Fusion360 and setup the toolpaths. I initially ran it small to get an idea of what it would look like, but the detail was tough to capture with the tools I had, so I scrapped that and went with the size I wanted. 

I started looking for some cheap epoxy resins I could pick up at stores near me and found that my local Walmart sold small quantities in their arts and crafts department. However, once taking a closer look at it, I discovered that you couldn't pour more than a 1/8" without getting into some dicey territory.

For the wood itself, I wanted to go with something relatively inexpensive, so I headed to my local Lowes and found Poplar would fit my needs. It was cheap, and in size, I was looking for, plus it was almost effortless to cut. The only downside to poplar is it has this weird greenish-yellow color, which in my opinion, is very ugly; I decided to use it anyway and apply a stain and finish to cover it up. I picked out a piece 24"x 16"x 3/4" and cut it down to 16"x 16" stock. The size of the Shapeoko 3 cutting radius is 16"x 16" and so couldn't exceed those limits.

After finding all my restrictions, I started to set up the toolpaths. I decided on a 1/4" depth of cut and only fill it with epoxy halfway, this would give some extent to the finished product. The whole operation only took 24 minutes and turned out pretty good; however, I noticed that certain aspects of the lake cut seemed off. I took a closer look at the toolpaths and found that I accidentally set it to cut with a 1/8" square mill but used a 1/4" square mill. One might think this isn't that big of an issue as everything would be slightly larger than the original, right? Unfortunately, not, since every side was 1/8" more than what was needed, this would give some of the inside details be bloated larger than they are. I didn't have time to go back and start from scratch, so I just dealt with it. 

Before pouring the resin, I needed to laser engrave the wood with a compass and location. I was able to find a compass online and modified it a bit to suit my needs. After putting it together with the name and location, it was ready to go. I set the laser engraver to 400mm/s  with 50 power. The first pass was a bit too light, so I ran it twice more and dug into the wood.

Once all the features machined out and laser engraved, I then moved over to staining and finishing. I started with using a blow torch and lightly pass over the wood a couple of times to give it more texture. For the staining, I found half a can of red chestnut stain and finish and used a paper towel to wipe it on. I then came back with another cloth and wiped as much of the stain as I could off to leave it somewhat lighter than the stain advertised on the can. 

After it dried, I read the instructions on the epoxy resin and started mixing it with a bit of blue pigment. I was aiming for a baby blue but ended up putting too much pigment, and the outcome was a midnight blue, I thought it was just darker in the cup since it was a more concentrated area, but when I poured it, it was only slightly lighter than it was in the container. I poured it halfway, approx 1/8" and took a blow torch to it to remove the bubbles. And finally, I tacked on a simple brass wall piece to mount it.

Overall, working with resin was much easier than I was expecting.

I honestly wasn't expecting it to turn out as well as it did. If I were to redo the project I would definitely double-check the tooling and even use smaller tools to get those smaller details. Also, I probably would have added more details through the laser engraving like streets.