Every city has a few houses that go overboard with giant lighted lawn decorations during the Christmas holiday.  The thought of hand drilling zillions of holes for stuffing with tiny lights has kept me from even putting up a few small decorations.
This year, I'm changing that…as a member of TechShop, I have access to a cool CNC router (love that ShopBot!).  So, I'm going to make it do the tedious work of drilling all those holes and cutting out the decoration's shape.

This instructable walks through the design/drawing of a "Star of Bethlehem". It also shows how to reduce laying out more than a hundred holes for lights to a matter of a couple simple steps.  

I used VCarve Pro to layout the entire project and to create the toolpaths for the ShopBot.
Most steps will have at least three photos to help explain what needs to be done.  The first photo shows where on VCarve's screen to find the tool.  The second photo shows the settings used by that tool.  The third photo shows what the drawing should look like after using the drawing tool so you can verify what each tool is supposed to do.

I made this at TechShop San Jose and plan to use this project for the November 2012 ShopBot Meetup.  For more info on TechShop, visit their website at http://techshop.ws

Step 1: Materials & Tools

  • Half sheet of 1/2” exterior grade plywood
  • Half sheet of backer material (because we’re going to drill through our plywood and don’t want to tear up the ‘Bot’s surface)
  • Exterior paint
  • Sandpaper (a sheet or two of 180 or 220 grit)
  • Christmas lights (buy these before you go any further so you know how many holes to drill)
  • I used two strands of Philips twinkling cool white LED indoor/outdoor lights, 60 lights/strand, 120 lights total (make sure your lights are rated for exterior use!)

  • 1/4” end mill bit (preferably rated for plunging…mine were purchased from http://centuriontools.com)
  • ShopBot big enough to handle a half sheet of plywood
  • VCarve Pro software (available on TechShop’s hub machines)
  • Palm or orbital sander
  • Laminate trimmer with a flush cutting bit.

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