Because of a New Years party with secret Santa I had
to make a gift that would be better than all other gifts combined. Luckily I had a theme the moment I saw the name for whom I had to fix a gift – Star wars. My giftee is a big star wars fan and liking everything that exists around it, from board games to books and collectables.
I recently bought a desktop CNC (shapeoko 2) which was perfect for the project in mind. I would make a big wooden board, paint it black and mill out a character of Star wars. Later on I realized that normal paint would be dull, “make it black chalkboard paint instead of normal paint and it’ll be multifunctional” a colleague said. The idea was there, now only to work it all out.
Step 1: Getting the Wood Ready
Since I wanted a nice contrast of black and white I looked
for a cheap, lightly colored piece of wood. Finding a multiplex poplar plate was ideal. Then only thing left to do is cut it at length, sand it down a bit and start the painting. For the paint I found black chalkboard paint. The idea is that you can write on the thing you paint (with chalk) and you can wash it off as often as you would want.
My first try ended up in misery, the plate was too rough. Only when I did a second try where I sanded the wooden base better and used a fine sanding block between every layer of paint I got an acceptable result.
So I have all the base materials needed to create the board I want!
Step 2: Preparing a Design
Another challenge was to prepare the design, yes it
was star wars but there are a lot of cool star wars characters that could serve my purpose. However some are more fitting than others. Frst of all it’s black on white, so it would be perfect to create a stormtrooper or Darth Vader or something like that. (since they’re entirely black/white) I browsed among some HD black-white wallpapers and found what I was looking for in a wallpaper of a stormtrooper.
I just had to convert the drawing to vector lines for my Shapeoko2. So I opened inkscape loaded the pictures and started the shenanigans. From inverting black/white to roughing some edges and other things I don’t even realize I did. In the end I made vector lines on the edges of a black and white picture I thought looked good enough.
Finally I imported the vector lines in makercam and looked at my drawing. After removing some unnecessary lines and scaling the picture so it would fit perfectly on my wooden base I had the code to send to my shapeoko2.
Step 3: Finishing
After all this hard work, I selected the right mill
and put my machine on go. Nervously waiting until it would finish (what if it made mistakes by some wrong settings and ruining my board! :o ). I used a small engraving bit with a very limited depth. This made all the lines have a deep center and pretty superficial edges, which was very cool to watch.
The final dimensions are roughly 32x50 cm of which roughly 1/3 is covered with engravings of the stormtrooper. All in all I’m very satisfied with the result, I learned a few tricks with my machine and about the wood and chalkboard paint so I’d say it was a fun run!
The guy who had the privilege to open this awesome gift was ecstatic as well. He even spaced out some moments that evening just staring at the board… A very satisfying reaction!
So what do you guys think? (better pictures will follow if I get them!)