Introduction: Old School CNC Name Block

About: Checking things off the never-ending list.

Put up your CNC machines and break out your coping saws! Today I'll show you how to make a name block using pure muscle power!

Old world artisans made such elaborate and intricate designs all by hand, It's a shame the art has depreciated so much. Though CNC has brought many revelations, HMP (human muscle power) should not be forgotten.

Step 1: Items Needed

You will need some square stock. I used a 2x2 from home depot labeled as a "turning blank," it was 2 feet long.

A coping saw to make intricate cuts. Have some extra blades. Thicker blades cut straighter lines while thinner blades turn corners more easily.

A drill. I used a hand drill that spins when you push it (I'm fairly certain it was designed as a screw driver but I had a bit that fit the chuck and it was my only non electric hand drill. Make sure that the drill bit you use will make a hole large enough to accommodate your coping saw blade.

Patience. A lot of patience. This project requires hand cutting intricate parts and may take many hours to complete.

Glue. The thinner your pieces the more likely they are to break. The beautiful thing about wood is that you can glue it back together.

A vise. This will hold your work for you while you cut. This saves a LOT of time and makes cutting Easier.

Step 2: Layout Your Design

You could use a computer to print some templates if you really insist, but I've laid these designs out by hand. If you need to use some graph paper that's ok, make your letters five blocks tall.

I chose to draw them straight onto my block of wood.

1 mark off an outer rim. This will hold all your letters together.

2 Draw in your letters in your style of choice. I drew my longest word first, then centered the smaller one above that.

I'll be showing you how to cut around the letters, but you could also choose to cut the letters out, leaving a negative.

Once you are satisfied with your design, cut your piece to length. I used my coping saw for this, but if you happen to have a Japanese Pull Saw, that would leave a much nicer edge.

Step 3: Drill Holes First, All of Them

We will need to drill a hole in every slot we want to cut out. Making holes as you go will lead to problems later on, like breaking off inside pieces. Drill all of your holes first, as straight as you can. Pro tip: by placing scrap wood under your workpiece and drilling into it, you prevent the exit hole from blowing out.

To protect my workpiece from clamp jaw indentations, I used pieces of scrap wood. For the really tiny holes, I decided I would cut through part of my letter to get to it.

Step 4: Time to Cope With It

We now begin the cutting process. This is most time consuming. Start on one end and work to the other. Slide your blade into the first hole, tighten it down, and cut away. Try to cut around the outside edges of pieces you wish to remove. Stay on the waste side of your lines, you can always cut, file, or sand it down later, but It is difficult to add back on.

The most difficult part for me to cope with is the constant tightening and loosening of the handle to slide the blade through every hole. If I'm using an outdated coping saw and someone has invented a new easy change one, please post a link in the comments.

Slowly continue cutting until your first side is completed.

Step 5: Cutting the Second Side

This side is far more delicate to cut because there is no supporting material on thin pieces. Proceed with caution and keep the glue bottle nearby. I only had one piece break off on the outside I had to glue back on (bet you can't spot it).

Step 6: Finishing

At long last, you should have a completed name box. Shorter names take less time.

When you've finished cutting, It's time to clean up your piece. Use an assortment of sand paper and files to clean up and flatten out all of your cut marks. My friends really like the gnarly first grader project look, so I'll only be cleaning it up a little bit (You can definitely tell this was hand made). Don't forget to sand off (or erase) your pencil marks.

After a light sanding, It's off to the wood burner, and then I'll give it a nice stain and finish. If you have a Wood knife you could even carve some cool designs into the ends.

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the world before CNC and I hope It has inspired you to use more hand tools.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to post a picture If you make one too!

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