So, my brother-in-law asked me to make nameplates to put on his sons’ bedroom doors. Since I hadn’t really used my ShapeOko 2 with Easel before this, I thought I’d document the process and how I arrived to the end result.
I started off by selecting a piece of wood which was not too large and not too expensive either. At the hardware store, I found a 180cm x 9 cm x 12mm piece of “Meranti” for a few euros. Of course, 180mm is too long to fit on my CNC machine, so I cut pieces of 30cm long, which is the maximum supported width.
With these dimensions in mind, I moved on to the design of the nameplate.
Easel is a browser-based tool by Inventables which can be used to design or import shapes and patterns to mill, as well as control the CNC machine. Until now, I was using a combination of Inkscape and Makercam, but the process was long and error prone.
A nameplate is an ideal first project to explore the tool. AT first I thought the available shapes were rather limited, until I discovered it is possible to combine them into more intricate shapes. So, to make a nameplate with rounded edges, I combined two circles with a rectangle (“Edit” > “Combine”), which resulted in the desired outline as can be seen from the screenshots below.
After that, I added the name using the text tool. The set of fonts is limited, but if you really need another font, you could import an SVG file of the desired design. For this project, I used the available “track” font. The size can be increased by selecting the text, selecting the “shape” tab in the popup and updating the dimensions. Don’t forget to click the lock icon in order to maintain the ratio.
Alright. With everything in place, I configured a few things for the milling process such as the milling speed, increments of the Z-axis and size of the milling bit. When you are ready to start, a short wizards helps you perform some final checks, such as:
- confirm material thickness
- confirm bit diameter
- home the mill on the X, Y and Z axis
- turn on the spindle
The milling process took very long because I had been very conservative with the milling speed. It’s always good to start slow, but as you gain confidence, you can increase the speed.
Nothing went wrong during the milling process, the only thing I did do, was to regularly use the vacuum cleaner to remove the dust and have a clear view on the milling.
To know more about Easel and how to use it, be sure to check out https://www.inventables.com/technologies/easel.
Finally, to cleanup the piece, I used a knife to cut off the tabs and leftover pieces and the edges were smoothed using sanding paper. The result is a simple but good looking nameplate.
The piece was left as is, without extra finish, so my brother-in-law can decide for himself if he wishes to stain, oil or paint the piece.