Dan Sawatzky Talks about his new 4″ long X-Edge Router Bit

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to host guest blogs written by some of the signage industry’s biggest movers and shakers, posted to the Precision Board Blog.  This guest blog is written by Dan Sawatzky with Imagination Corporation in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.  This month, Dan talks about a new 4″ long router bit that he received from X-Edge Tools and the possibilities it opens up when cutting Precision Board urethane foam…like being able to order 4″ thick sheets of HDU instead of buying multiple 2″ thick sheets and bonding them together after CNC routing!


In Dan’s own words...

We are always on the lookout for new tools and materials that will help us do our work easier and more efficiently. Once in a while we discover something that radically changes what we are able to accomplish, which is an awesome thing! Thirty pound density Precision Board HDU was one such discovery many years ago (Ed note: watch Dan’s video on why they exclusively use our PBLT-30 HERE).

A couple of months ago we received a new tapered ball nose bit #XCT518 from our good friends at X-Edge. It has a full two inch plus cutting edge. The bit has a chunky 1/2” shank at the top which means we can cut through 2” of 30lb Precision Board at full speed without any deflection or fear of breaking the bit. This is a game changer for the dimensional signs and features we build. This was the solution to which I’ve been waiting for for about fourteen years.

The introduction of the X-Edge 2” long taper bit helped a great deal and we’ve been using this bit a whole lot of late with great success.


But there’s always that special job where we wish to route something out of even deeper material. Jim Dawson and X-Edge have been working to design something new that would take away all of the limits (Ed note: check out our previous blogs with Jim at Synergy Sign and X-Edge HERE and HERE). Recently I was delighted to receive another package in the mail from X-Edge. They wanted me to try their latest edition to the carving series, the massive #XCT3418 which has a 3/4” shank and 4+” of cutting edge.


This new 4” tapered ball nose bit defeats the long dreaded ‘cone of death.’ Back when I first started using my router the 1/8” ball nose bits only had a cutting edge of 1/2” and a length of about 1.5”. When I tried to add detail to our routing pieces we quickly ran into all sorts of difficulties. Cutting files had to be designed to avoid that dreaded CONE OF DEATH where the upper shanks of the router bit and the collet would rub on the edges of our work. I broke plenty of bits through the years from rubbing them on the edge of finished work too. I’ve even occasionally stalled my machine as the collet rubbed on the surface of our work when I pushed things too far. With the smaller bits we’ve had to run multiple passes which eats up a lot of running time on the machine. Of necessity, we figured out workarounds to help but I always had to make lots of compromises to my designs to accomplish our goals.

Now all that is a thing of the past!

Looking back through my recent projects I see two that could have taken advantage of this exciting tool. Routing them using this bit would have saved time on gluing layers and then hand finishing.

The recently completed train could have been machined from three layers of Precision Board instead of five with this new bit. That change would have saved considerable machining hours, some Precision Board material, plus hours of assembling and hand finishing.


The rolling pin could have been routed from two layers of 4” thick material instead of four layers of two inch. That would have saved some gluing and hand finishing time.

I’m placing my order for 30lb Precision Board later this week and now I can order up some 4” thick material for the first time because the cutting solution has arrived. There will be no more gluing up and hand finishing after we cut. Imagine the magic we will now be able to create! That extra gantry height on my MultiCam will finally be put to good use!”

I’ve yet to fully utilize the capabilities of this new monster bit but I am in the process of designing some upcoming projects for it!

Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation is a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous national and international awards.

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force and visual storyteller extraordinaire. His art career spans almost fifty years of magic. Dan’s passion is to design and create imaginative places that take people from the normal world to a setting of delight and wonder.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.