Using Multiple CNC Passes to Get Clean Edge Detail When Routing HDU

When James Spouler with Mainland Woodworks got the job to update the signage at the Southlands Riding Club in Vancouver, BC, Canada, he used 15lb and 18lb Precision Board HDU to give the signs some depth and durability. Spouler also used multiple CNC router passes to get clean and deep lettering. Read on to see why he likes using Precision Board as a substrate for his dimensional signs.

James says the core branding design came to him from the clients branding designer.  “I took their vectors and made some adjustments to look good within the desired final sign dimensions using Vectric Aspire for my tool pathing software.”

He used PBLT-15 Precision Board HDU at 3″ thick for the larger main sign and PBLT-18 at 2″ thick for the second two signs.

Spouler prefers to use Precision Board HDU for outdoor signage, saying that “it’s thermally and dimensionally stable, essentially weatherproof, and UV stable.  It’s the best material I have found for painted exterior signage if you want it to last.”

For the deep lettering ( 0.8″ ) on the large main sign James first cut the lettering pass using a 5º tapered endmill.  “Then I cut the clear out passes in two depth passes leaving about 0.05″ and then one final finishing pass to remove that last 50 thousandths of an inch.”  He adds, “this lets me hog out the material fast and dirty then do a nice cleanup pass to get rid of any tear out or other blemishes that can be caused by weird or inefficient tool-pathing or by cutting too fast or too deep in one go.”

“I primed the signs with Coastal’s FSC-88 WB primer/filler, which took a little playing with to get used to, but once I thinned it to the right consistency, it worked great,” says Spouler (Ed note: Click HERE for tips from the experts on priming HDU with FSC-88 WB).

James painted the signs using the Matthews urethane paint color system saying, “it’s the best way I have found to accurately hit PMS colors at any amount you need to mix up, from a thimble to a gallon.”

Spouler says machining the Precision Board HDU took no time at all.  “Cutting the HDU goes fairly quickly, that’s one of my favorite parts of working with it.  It cuts fast and sharp and with a little planning you can really push the feed rates on it.”

Spouler uses a CNC machine which he built with his father-in-law.  “My father-in-law is an inventor and builder, electrician, plumber, and network systems engineer,” he tells us.  He adds, “the machine was originally based on open source MechMate plans, we built it with a 62″ x 122″ cutting area, initially it had about 6″ of Z travel, and of course, on the second project, which was planing a 5″ thick maple slab, we ran into the Z height limitation. and so we redesigned the Z axis with a lead screw and some linear bearings and rails to now allow for a full 16.5″ of travel.”

James uses a 2.2 kW water-cooled spindle on the machine and runs it using LinuxCNC.

Mainland Woodworks is a family run design and wood crafting team that is able to bring your ideas from a dream to a reality that you can see, touch and admire for years to come.  They offer a wide range of wood milling services as well as a large bed CNC router which can plane slabs and create elaborate 3D carvings.  You can call them at 778-241-6984 or visit their website.

Coastal Enterprises offers free samples of Precision Board HDU.  Already have a project in mind for our material?  Request a quote and get started today.  Sign up for our monthly blog roundup so you don’t miss any of our informative blogs.

Have a special project fabricated with Precision Board HDU and want to know if it could be featured in a blog on our website?  Give us a call at 800-845-0745 or drop us an email with details.  We’d love to hear from you!