As usual, I was presented with a last minute Christmas gift creation this year. When a family of 6 is passionate about their Chicago Blackhawks, what do you get them for Christmas? Autographed pictures? Hockey pucks from scoring a goal? Season tickets? I guess that stuff is too clichè, which is why she came to me for ideas. So I came up with this…..a 12”x24” custom personalized plaque made of plywood. Letters and Blackhawk head are separate elements that are somewhat recessed into the plywood. Take a look!
Ferrari 599 GTO Sign
If you’ve viewed any of my previous posts, you know that I’ve got a thing for anything related to Ferrari. When Ferrari introduced the 599 in 2006, I fell in love. However, that love turned to lust four years later when they announced the 599 GTO. Ok, that sounds weird to lust after a car, so we’ll just say that I got excited…..excited because it was the third car in their history to wear the GTO badge. (The first being the 250 GTO in 1962 and the second in 1984, the 288 GTO.) Anyways…..on to the build!
I’m always up for a good challenge, especially when it requires the potential use of new materials, techniques, and tools. This was a project that involved a new and unchartered territory for me: thermoforming. I’ve always been interested in the possibility of making higher quality, duplicate parts quickly and economically, so thermoforming seemed to be the logical way to go. I was introduced to thermoforming while at my day job, working for a packaging company as a designer/prototype developer. I learned from a variety of seasoned veterans in the packaging industry about thermoforming and how it surrounds us every day. Things like yogurt cups, backlit signage, and packaging, all incorporate thermoforming somewhere in the process.
Anyways…..before you can vacuum form, you need a vacuum former. Well, that was kind of an issue, since I didn’t have one laying around. So I did what any right-brained, curious individual would do….I researched the interwebs and built one myself. It’s pretty basic, when you get right down to it. All you really need is an oven box, a vacuum platen, a vacuum pump, and an air tank or two. After that, the perfection of the parts lies within the creation of the molds themselves. I’ll dedicate a whole other post to the construction of the vacuum former itself, but for now, enjoy the pics of the 599 GTO sign!
Chicago Blackhawk Backlit LED Sign
Those who know me best claim that my side projects always revolve around cars. My latest certainly does not! Since the Chicago Blackhawks are a vey well-liked hockey team here in the Chicago area, it was only fitting that I show some pride for my home team….even though I’ll always stay true to my beloved team, Ferrari. What we’ve got here is a 24″ x 24″ x 2.25″ backlit wall sign featuring the infamous Chicago Blackhawks logo. A grand total of 201 cool white LEDs illuminate this sign using a single 12V power supply and it weights just shy of 20 lbs. The main shell of the sign and the removable back panel are both made of ½” plywood. Black paint is regular spray paint from Home Depot and the front face is gloss black RPET. The actual Blackhawk colored graphic is printed on backlight film and protected with a clear PVC over lam. This one is the first of three that I’m making, so hopefully they get a little bit easier by the third one! HA! Check out the progress pics below as well as a couple finals of the project. Enjoy!
Formula One Track Wall Art
This was a project that I did recently for myself. I get quite a few car magazines and had seen something recently that caught my eye…..wall displays inspired by the many race track configurations in the world, including Formula One, Nascar, and Indy. So naturally, I thought the Formula One series was pretty cool and decided to make one myself. I chose the Formula One race track in Austin Texas….The Circuit of the Americas.
It all started with two sheets of ½” baltic birch plywood glued together. The glued pieces were then laminated with a sheet of painted styrene. Once complete, the piece was adhered to the CNC table using painters tape. (I could have used double-sided tape) The cutting process only required 3 programs…one for the outside profile, one for the inside profile, and finally a bevel on the top edge to finish off the sides. Cutting time took approximately 18 minutes total. I considered using screw brackets to mount the piece to the wall, but I wanted some depth so I decided to use metal stand-offs, therefore allowing the race track to sit 1-½” off the wall. I used a 1″ extension rod for ceiling fans and cut pieces slightly oversized. I then chucked them into a lathe and machined the ends to their final length. I cut keyhole slots in the back of the display, figured out where to screw holes into the wall, and attached the stand-offs. It looked ok, but I felt it was missing something so I decided to add the “Circuit of the America’s” logo. I could have cut the logo into the face of the display, but it would have been tiny and I didn’t want to destroy the nice, continuous smooth surface of the race track. I came up with a plan to incorporate a piece of acrylic into the display and cut the logo out of vinyl and adhere to the acrylic panel. When I was finished with Austin, I decided to make the infamous Monaco race track! Check out the pics below for a couple progress shots as well as the final displays. Enjoy!
Signs Made Easy with CNC
I was recently asked by Rockler Woodworking to give in-store demonstrations of their CNC Shark machines. Currently, there’s a big push by many manufacturers to get benchtop CNC machines into workshops around the world. CNC machines and 3D printers are all around us today, showcasing their ease of use and endless possibilities. Entry level CNC machines, such as the ones sold at Rockler, are enticing to a lot of potential buyers because of their size and affordability. As a demonstrator, I wanted to come up with a couple simple things that viewers and potential buyers could easily relate to, in regards to an easy first-time project. For a lot of people, they see things everyday that they like and wonder how it’s done. While making these wall signs is fairly simplistic to me, I know that there are others who may perceive them to be complicated. Part of my job as a demonstrator is to demonstrate the ease of use of one of their CNC Shark machine models. Now, while part of the using the CNC is manipulating the CNC itself, the other part relies intensively on the individual. For users who are otherwise computer illiterate, learning to use one of these machines can be a daunting task. The basic software packages provided with these machines is what I focus on primarily. We leave the advanced stuff for after-store hours! Anyways, take a look below at some of the samples created while focusing on basic techniques achieved using the basic software package. Enjoy!
LED Reindeer Shadowbox
I was feeling a bit festive the other day and came up with this idea, being that it’s soooo close to Christmas. We had some relatives coming for Thanksgiving dinner, so I thought I would make something that might catch their eye as they walked in the door. Afterall, everything is better when illuminated with LEDs, right? I don’t have many pics of the progress on this project because it was done in such a hurry. The frame is 1/2″ MDF trimmed with standard window trim. The reindeer and town silhouette are cut with CNC from 1/4″ luan plywood. They are mounted on 3/4″ dowels using hot glue. The background is 1/2″ plywood laminated with styrene. The 5 LEDs (4 blue, 1 red) are powered by a single 9 volt battery. The entire shadowbox measures 31″long by 11″ high by 4″ deep. Take a look at the gallery below!
Naperville Bank And Trust Kiosks and Wall Display
I recently had the pleasure of working with my dad on a project for the Naperville Bank & Trust in Naperville. The bank purchased the historic 1939 Post Office building to be used as their new downtown location. We were asked to work on a couple projects for them that would incorporate original items found in the post office during its time of operation.
The first project was to dismantle a series of old, brass post office box doors and create a wall display that would be placed inside the wall of the presidents office, while still visible to the rest of the bank. Removing the doors seemed like a simple task at first, but ended up being rather complex because of how they were originally manufactured. Since the post office box keys were nowhere to be found, we had to remove the doors Continue reading “Naperville Bank And Trust Kiosks and Wall Display”
Prancing Horse Sculpture: Part 1
Sometimes, no matter what I do from day to day, it always seems like I end up doing the same thing over and over again. I’ve been feeling the urge lately to carve something. I’ve been playing around lately with mold-making and weighing the pros and cons on the expensive materials needed to experiment. Mold-making is easy. It’s simple. But it can be expensive. It can be even more expensive if you don’t do the research needed for your specific project. Continue reading “Prancing Horse Sculpture: Part 1”