I previously reviewed a free CNC project idea in an article on Free Vector Clipart by OpenClipArt. It was for a Cuckoo Clock vector design with lots of details. This design would be an excellent project for my CNC wood machine.
I've done 3D carvings with my CNC, but never a V-Carve design with this much detail.
This article highlights that the vector design is only the first half of a CNC project. Choosing the suitable wood material, ensuring the toolpaths are calculated correctly and using the right finish are all part of the same project.
The Cuckoo Clock Free CNC Project
I found the Cuckoo Clock design on the OpenClipArt website. As I wrote in my article, the vectors were pretty clean, and the result using the Vectric Software simulator was excellent.
I wanted to use a V-Carve toolpath with the Cuckoo Clock vector design. But I also wanted to make a frame around the design with chamfer edges. The chamfer edges would help remove the frame's simple, square look.
The Final Vector Design of the Free CNC Project
The additional vectors I needed to add to the design were relatively simple. First, I needed a couple of rectangles to form the wall-hanging frame. Then, I added one more offset rectangle to perform the chamfer toolpath.
The created toolpaths would create the rest of the shape details for the frame.
Wood Material Used For The Wall Hanging
I had some nice Cherry wood planned for this project. It was one inch thick and perfect for this project. It was a little smaller than I wanted to use, but it was acceptable.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, I was overly confident in my first carving of the design. So the Cherry wood ended up being scrapped.
I usually use some Poplar wood I have for practice carves. I had a piece that was a perfect size, with the dimensions below. It was 12.75 inches wide by 22.75 inches high. It was not quite as thick as the Cherry at 13/16 inches or .8125.
So for my second attempt at this carve, I used this Poplar material. This way, I would not waste better wood for another V-Carve test attempt.
As you'll read later, this second "practice attempt" turned out excellent and became my final piece.
The CNC Wood Toolpaths Created
I ended up creating four separate toolpaths in the Vectric CNC software.
The first included a roughing toolpath to clear the wood material inside the frame. This cleared area would be because of the surface of the Cuckoo Clock V-Carve design.
A second toolpath would be the V-Carve of the Cuckoo Clock itself.
A third toolpath would be to create the Chamfer edge on the outside edge of the frame.
The final and fourth toolpath would be a profile cut out of the project itself from the rest of the material.
Free CNC Project V-Carve Pocket Toolpath
I used a V-Carve toolpath to pocket with as I wanted the inside sides of the frame to be angled inward. I could have created another rectangle vector and utilized the Pocket toolpath and the V-Carve.
Since the V-Carve option allowed for a clearance tool, this one was easier. I used a 60-degree v-bit so that the inside walls of the frame would be angled inward at thirty degrees.
I wanted the final thickness of the project to be a half-inch. Therefore, subtracting that from the material thickness left me with .3125-inches for the pocket depth option.
V-Carve Clock Toolpath
The toolpath for the Cuckoo Clock vector design itself was easy. It would be a V-Carve toolpath using the 60-degree v-bit.
However, the complexity came with setting the Start depth for the toolpath. Recall that I put the flat depth of the pocket toolpath to .3125-inches. So therefore, the start depth for this one should be the material thickness minus the pocket depth, which would be a half-inch.
The first time I carved this design, I did use the .5-inch start depth. As a result, my lovely piece of Cherry wood became scrap. I was not too fond of the finished result of the project.
So instead, I added .05-inches to the Start depth of the clock v-carve toolpath. This small extra made it a value of .3615-inches, which you can see in the image below.
Chamfer Outside Edge of Frame Toolpath
The third toolpath was the Chamfer edge on the outside of the frame.
Again, the Vectric software provides a chamfer toolpath option. The little picture in the Chamfer dimensions below made it easy for me to understand.
I wanted the chamfer to be .25-inches deep. Once I entered the depth value, the "W" dimension revealed the width of the chamfer, which was .1433-inches. So I created an inward offset vector using that dimension, and it became the basis for the chamfer toolpath.
The chamfer worked perfectly.
Profile Cutout Toolpath
The final profile toolpath was easy. It was a cutout with the final pass cleanup set at .01-inches. I always put the cut depth slightly deeper to ensure the project piece cuts out.
I didn't add any tabs since I used tape to hold down the project piece to the wasteboard.
Cuckoo Clock Free CNC Project Final Results
The first result came from setting the Start Depth of the clock's v-carve toolpath to .3125-inches. The result was okay, but I was looking for a bolder look.
In comparison, the extra .05-inch added to the start depth on the clock's v-carve toolpath gave the finished project the boldness I was expecting.
The Poplar material below is still unfinished.
A friend recommended I try Odies Oil for the finish. I like the look, but it takes work to rub it into a v-carve design like this with all the details.
The outer edge chamfer also turned out very nice.
VCarve Pro Download File
You must verify all tool path settings, especially the bit settings, to ensure they are compatible with your CNC machine. Every CNC machine operates differently!