Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

3D CNC Leaf Carving

I tied one of my machine shop tools into my wood working interests. I had my Taig Micro CNC Mill doing wood carving. That is thanks to a software company called Vectric. The program I am using here is the Vectric Cut3D. When you visit their web site you will see they have a less expensive program called Vectric Cut 2D. I have since purchased their master program called Aspire that ties some of their stand alone software into one offering.

I have run the Photo V-Carve quite a bit. Both these programs give your CNC machine quite a work out as well as producing wonderful output. There is a a really nice item that can be produced with Photo V-Carve or Aspire called a Lithophane that I will show in another article.

leaf3d leaf-001 
 This is the graphic preview produced with in Cut3D. You will be able to see how close it is to the actual production. I would say exact!  Now you can see why I added the set-up plate to the bed of the Taig Micro-Mill. That is the full range the Y-Axis can reach and fully supports a standard 5.5 inch wide board.
 leaf-002 leaf-003lg
 This is the roughing cut using a 1/8 inch ball nose router bit at 10,600 RPM and 40 IPM. The travel speed can be easily pushed faster but I have the traverse set at 60 IPM to save wear and tear, so 40 IPM is a good working speed.  I used the same bit for finish but changed from 40% step over to 15 % step over. The program never had to stop from rough to finish. Click pic to enlarge view.
 leaf-004  leaf-005
 This is the top side finished. That is how clean the cut actually is. The gap depth is slightly more than 1/2 way through the 3/4 in thick board. Note the tabs to hold the part in place.  Just starting the reverse side. The board flip is from top to bottom and the starting point is the same as the top, the front left corner. This is about 1/2 way up the first pass. Just air blowing, no mist!
 leaf-006 leaf-008lg
 This is later on in the roughing pass. You can see that the cutter has cut through to the front side. The parts matched amazing close., within several thou".  The finishing pass for the backside. There is an enlargement of this picture. Just click pic to enlarge. 
 leaf-009  leaf-010
Birds eye view of the finished back side. Both cuts front and rear were only a bit more than half way through so there was no need to worry about carving into the bed of the machine. This is the scale hand reference. The over all board was 5 1/2 x 8 inches and 3/4 inches thick. There is a minor "parting line" due to very slight misalignment from front to back. Nothing a little sanding can't fix.
 leaf-011lg  leaf-012lg
A couple of "studio" pictures of the finished leaf. The leaf has been sanded smooth and a single coat of shellac has been applied to both sides and buffed. Here the lighting is from behind. Click this and next pic to enlarge. The lighting is in front here. What appears to be a raised area in the middle front pocket, almost dead center of the leaf also appears on the reverse side. It is not raised and is possibly a knot.

The wood is Poplar which is not known for its grain or beautiful color. It just happened to be some in my shop. Also the leaf is not big enough for much practical use. The original design was for it to be a candy dish. The nice thing about 3D drawings in Vectric is they can be scaled to any size desired.

So I can imagine what this would be like produced in a more exotic wood and in a larger size.

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