I made these two Sheikah Slate cutting boards/art pieces for my sisters for Christmas. They've really been enjoying Breath of the Wild, so I wanted to make something special. I thought that I'd share a bit about the process with you.
You'll need the following tools to complete the project:
- CNC router
- Jointer (you could do with a table saw but it's a bit tricky)
- Table saw
- Band Saw
- Palm Sander (or one heck of a lot of patience)
I made the background from Walnut and the inlay from Maple. My CNC router is a Shopbot, programmed using Aspire.
Step 1: Preparing the Boards
Take the Walnut and Maple boards and run them through the jointer until the edges are parallel. You could do that using the table saw, but it's a bit trickier. Regardless, the edges should be parallel, otherwise you'll end up with gaps in the glue-up.
Once that's done, glue them in sets of 3 boards as shown, and clamp them together.
Finally, run them through the planer, making both sides smooth. Measure the final thickness; you'll need it when preparing the G-Code.
Step 2: Preparing the Files
I started out with an image of the Sheikah Slate and traced it out in CorelDraw. The Maple inlays are mirrored because we'll be cutting them upside-down then turning them over. Then, I exported the result to DXF so that I could bring it in to Aspire.
In Aspire, use a V-Carve toolpath for the pockets. Set the starting depth to 0.0" and have a flat depth of 0.2" (or, if like me your tool is too shallow to do that, have a flat depth of just less than the depth of the V portion of the tool).
For the inlay, have your start depth as half of the flat depth from the pocket and the flat depth the same number. For example, if your flat depth was 0.2" for the pocket, you would have a flat depth of 0.1" and a start depth of 0.1"
I also used a 1/8" bit as a clearing tool. Doing so reduces the runtime.
Step 3: Carving
This step will be fairly self-explanatory, depending on your machine. On this ShopBot, I did each toolpath individually, keeping the same XY zero between toolpaths, but changing the bit and the Z-zero between paths.
Step 4: Preparing the Inlay
Using the bandsaw, roughly cut out the inlay pieces. You want to remove enough material that you can comfortably fit all of the pieces back in place. Then, apply glue to all of the mating surfaces. Finally, glue the inlay pieces back in place. Use a board and a clamp or heavy weight to hold the pieces down as they set.
Once the glue has set, you can remove any tabs left over from carving and sand them flush, as applicable.
Step 5: Finishing the Inlay
Run the board through the bandsaw to rough-cut the inlay, trying to get as close to the blade as possible without damaging the surface of the board. Then, use the palm sander to sand the inlay down flush with the board.
If you notice that there are any gaps, you can make your own filler. Take some scrap pieces from the material where the gap is biggest and use the palm sander to sand them over a collection bin (I used a plastic tool box). The aim is to collect a fine wood dust. Then, take a small amount of the dust (usually around the size of a marble) and mix in some wood glue until you have a sort of sloppy putty. Working quickly, press and smear the putty over the gaps. Continue working in small amounts until all gaps are filled. Wash your tool frequently; hardened wood glue can be difficult to remove.
Sand the piece lightly to remove the excess filler.
Step 6: Oiling and Finish
I used a shop towel to wipe on walnut oil to bring out the color, and beeswax salad bowl wax to act as a sealant. If you're using a polymerizing oil like walnut oil, make sure that you rinse the rags with soap and water, then un-crumple them to dry. If you leave them crumpled in a heap, they may spontaneously ignite.