Orca Table Update!
If you’ve been following the CustomMade Blog, you probably remember our design contest from back in march. If not, you could catch up on the winner here and see the first design process update here. But this wouldn’t be a CustomMade Blog entry if we didn’t have some updates and some awesome flash animations to show you. So lets get to it. We caught up with CustomMade.com artisan Bill Amaya of Cimarron Lofting, Inc. and he graciously let us in on some details on the orca table’s progress. Here’s some of what he had to share with us!
My approach is to break this carving into components. There is the base, the body of the whale, the dorsal fin, the center of the tail fin and finally the tail fins. Each component is isolated, cleaned up and modified as needed. All of that work is done using Rhino 3d. Lets look at the body of the whale for more detail on the process.
Here you can see just the body. Note that I split the dorsal fin so that part of it is carved along with the body. It is along that split line that we will rejoin the parts. The next step for us to export this component to a program that will drive our CNC machine. The program I am using to do that is called FeatureCam. FeatureCam will help me figure out the size of my block of wood. You could also call that the billet or the stock. I will also figure out how to fixture the piece and the orientation of the piece on the CNC table.”
In this first picture you can see that I am going to machine the body laying on its side. I have to do it this way because I think the router motor would hit the work piece while carving it if I carved it from the top. I have given the router a boundary that will confine its path and cutter. This means that we do not have to spend time cutting away all of the stock. Leaving some of the stock allows us to fixture the piece and in this case will help us when we flip the piece to carve the other side. If You look close you will see what looks like a 3 way arrow. That is the “origin” when the billet is mounted on the router.
Bill continues by showing us some of the computer based aspect of the job.
In this picture you can see how FeatureCam does a 3d simulation of the cutter actually cutting the part. We are going to cut 2 rough passes followed by a finish carving pass. The first rough pass will remove material that will get in the way of the machine. The second roughing pass will carve the body and quickly remove material. At this point the whale body will be pretty rough but will begin to emerge. The final pass is a finishing pass that should leave the body in a state that will require some hand sanding to finish it up.
(I have created a flash animation to display the carving passes A. to better illustrate the process, B. for simplicity’s sake, and C. cause lets face it. animations are awesome and fun to make.)
This is the shot of the billet before carving. (Fig 1)
Here is the FeatureCam screen shot showing the second roughing pass. (Fig 2)
This final screen shot show the right side of the whale body carved out. (Fig 3)
One of the challenges is fixturing the part, holding the part in the correct location, holding so it does not move, and holding it so that we can flip it over and carve the other side. In the picture you can see that I am leaving corners and that the bottom of the part is also left alone. Additionally we are not carving all of the way to the center of the part. This will leave a 1/4″ thick “tab” all around the part, thus holding it into the original billet. Here is a picture of the Billet in clamps being glued up.
The billet is 7″ x 6 7/8″ x 29 15/16. Glued up from solid walnut. Stay tuned for pictures as we carve this on the CNC.
Thanks to Bill for keeping us in the loop with this great update. As Bill said, stay tuned for the next orca table update; we at CustomMade can’t wait to see how its progressing. In the meantime, leave Bill and his shop some love in the reply box and let him and us know what you think of how the table is coming along!