This piece was made to show the career of a soldier in the South Dakota Army National Guard with his collection of challenge coins. I used a homemade CNC machine and Mach3 software to mill out the holes for the coins. I also used a Epilog laser and CorelDraw6, at my school, to etch the images on the acrylic, I love how much fun you can have with lasers:) This is a very proud and noble tradition in the military. These coins are given to soldiers for exemplary service and work. My plan is to make these for veterans in my community at material cost. The best part is that both sides of the coin can be seen. I hope you like what I've come up with :) These projects are so much FUN!
1/4" Oak Veneer (12"X24")
3/8" Acrylic (24"X24") (This was a scrap piece, does not need to be this thick)
Wood Stain (I used Jacobean)
LED's (I used Patriot RGB LED tape)
Homemade CNC (router would probably work)
Step 1: Measuring the Coins
Take accurate measurements with a caliper or micrometer of each coin. Be sure to write each one down and what coin it go's to. I had a couple of coins that were the same coin, but were different sizes.
Step 2: Setting Up CNC and Software
Draw in your coins to Mach3 in the arrangement that you want, make sure to add a little to your measurements so the coins will fit (I added .1in on the diameter). Once they are all drawn in set the depth, tool size, and speed.
Secure the veneer in the CNC and set your zero point. Double check that the depth, tool size, and speed is set correctly (took me a "practice piece" to get it right).
Run your program and watch it go:)
Step 3: Staining
Once the piece is complete stain it. I used a rag, make sure to put it on with the grain. Be sure to stain both sides.
Let dry when finished.
Step 4: Place the Coins in the Veneer
Carefully press the coins into the milled out veneer when its dry. You should be able to hand press them in, don't force them in, some of them can be damaged very easily. BE CAREFUL!
Step 5: Etch Acrylic
Set up images you wish to etch into the acrylic. I chose to use an MLRS on one side and the soldiers title with dates for the other side. In CorelDraw I set up the workspace and imported the pictures. Measure out the area you plan to have the etching shown on the veneer. Set up the pictures and words to the area you have designated.
We have a 40W Epilog at the school and I used these settings to etch the project.
Raster setting, Power 60%, Speed 85%, 600dpi
Step 6: Routing Out the Frame
Measure out the thickness of the project and route the frame to that thickness. Make sure that the project fits into the routed space. After ensuring the fit stain with the same stain as before, you may want to finish it with a polyurethane.
Step 7: LED's
I used Patriot RGB tape LED's and stuck them to the inside of the routed part of the frame. Now, you could easily use through hole LED's and solder them together and then place them in the frame. Just be sure everything will fit. I used the RGB type with remote because I like the fade feature, I figured it would look nice switching colors :)
Step 8: Admire
Put it all together and admire the finish product! Looks great! and it will make a veterans day! :)