1st paid sign with Long Mill

Hot off the press, i mean spoil-board. I typically sandblast these hole sponsor signs for a local golf course but got the LM to do it for me. Got the LM last Aug and didn’t get to put it together until the Fall. Played a couple times with it before winter and am really just putting it into play now in my sign and engraving business. Material is Sign Foam 4 , I think its 20# or 25# density. Very Expensive.
In case anyone is wondering - I pre-painted the border and sides, then masked with 813 stencil. Sign took 3 bits because of the cramped # of letters the client wanted (1/4" clearing, 1/8" clearing, and 1/16" final pass) - all down cut bits. Also used the auto-zero touch plate and had very little sanding to do in the pocket areas. Design was done in Corel, Imported to V-carve as a AI file. Took about 1.5 hours or less. I will finish the sign by painting the pocket cut, removing the mask, then second coating the trim sides, back, and text before client gets it. Any ?s just ask.

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Forgive the stupid questions but I know nothing about signs …
Is the mask only there so that you can paint the carved out section of the sign or is there another reason?
The tiny bits (period and comma) … are they not prone to falling off if you stare at them too much ?
and the big question:
What makes Sign Foam so much better than the pink insulation panels that are reasonably inexpensive at your local Home Depot?
Very nice sign!

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Is the mask only there so that you can paint the carved out section of the sign or is there another reason?
Yes

The tiny bits (period and comma) … are they not prone to falling off if you stare at them too much ?
and the big question:
Sign Foam has different densities that you can get 15lb - interior, 18# and up exterior use. Sign Foam is very tough light but like a fine grain wood-like - for instance you can dump it in a bucket of gasoline and the paint will be removed, otherwise its good to go. Impervious to the weather, can take all paint, does not need to be primed, easily machinable and since it is a tight cell foam as opposed to pink insulation foam you can really get fine detail. Pink insulation foam is an open cell foam, it bends easily, maybe good for indoor use, somewhat machinable (sometimes chunks get taken out). With that said, I use pink insulation foam to test before I use the expensive sign foam. BTW, I charge between $300-$325 (10 x 24) for a sandblasted sign , hand painted - just like this one - you won’t get that with insulation foam.

hope that helps

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Thanks for the lesson!

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One time I put a bit of Gasoline in a styrofoam cup… I guess you know how that turned out.

Good info for those of us that have not worked with that material. It does look like it machines well. I hope your mill helps your business.

I found the sandblasted work you do very interesting as someone who has sandblasted a bunch but never to created anything but a clean surface, free of paint. Entire brick and stone mill buildings in fact, usually to be turned into condos… but that was another life… and not much fun.

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Hello! @engraver99 Kevin! Thank you for sharing this project, but more importantly, I appreciate the insight on SF4.

I strictly have been carving on walnut. Retirement and memorial plaques, mostly badges for law enforcement . Inside pieces exclusively. I have a customer who wishes their project to be hung from a barn on the outside on chain. I agreed to look into it, but haven’t produced a piece due to outdoor requirements. This product you carved with is exactly what I need. I hit the company’s website and will be spending some time there for sure! They have a crazy amount of information there. http://signfoam.com/ I have a few things to do today, but will be reaching out to the local distributor to inquire about pricing of the product. You said the material was very expensive. I have to find out just how expensive it is.

Again, thanks for sharing. I look forward to seeing more pieces from you. You are indeed quite talented!

Respectfully,
Jake

Thanks Michael. Sign foam is alot easier on the old equipment than wood and a lot cleaner than sandblasting in a booth!

From What I understand, Sign Foam is manufactured using recycled plastic bottles.

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Hi Jake, Sign Foam will send out samples to you in different densities to try if you ask them for some. Also there is another product I will be trying and have received samples from - CoraFoam. They are supposed to be like sign foam. I have samples here - looks good but have not tried yet. They will also send samples if asked. You will love the detail you can get out of the foam will work good with highly detailed carvings like badges.

any ?'s feel free

Kevin

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So, after examining the sign in more detail, other than the carving, I found the entire pocket was not centered on the sign foam when machined but was centered in the artwork. It was off by approx. 3/16 of an inch over 20" span - almost 4.75mm. I did have it calibrated but only a very small distance…ugh should have used a longer span for calibration when i originally did it. Darn - now have to do some reconstructive surgery…lol. I had to go into tuning and re-calibrate the x axis (y’s were ok). Should check my z since the carving looks a little deeper than a 1/4 inch.

Oh Well Live and Learn …and Fix

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Thanks Kevin! Making my machine cut straight was a challenge for sure! Still, very nice work sir. I will give both companies a call this afternoon and express my interest with them. Removing so many steps planing and sanding slabs would be amazing for my work flow. Thanks again!

NP good luck, any ?'s you come up with - feel free to ask been doing this for 17 years.

here is a smaller cnc cut sample showing detail cut 1/8 bit (hole tee off marker)

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It can’t hurt but it’s a little harder to measure but I think I just thought of a good way to do it accurately.

I was thinking if you use a touch probe/block and set Z zero to the spoil board surface in one workspace and then switch to another and set Z zero to the top of a block of wood, metal might be better if you have it, that you measured with calipers to have a known height. Then while still in the second workspace move off the block and go to Z zero. Then when you switch to the first workspace the Z in gSender would change from zero to displaying the height above the spoil board. Then compare that to the measurement you got with the calipers. Like you already mentioned the larger distance you can measure the more it will minimize any measuring mistakes.

Does that sound plausible? Or do have a better way?

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When I first got my LongMill, I too was getting uneven cuts. I looked around and found out I needed to surface my bed of MDF. Once I did that, my depth of cutting is much better. MDF, while solid, does move with humidity. In fact, I was thinking it was about time to do it again. More prophylactically than anything. Plus I got a dandy new surfacing bit I want to try out. I maybe way off, but without a ton of knowledge of CNC machines, I try the easy stuff first. When I surfaced my bed the first time, it did take very little away. Just my uneducated 2 cents worth. I hope it helps!
Jake

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thanks Jake for the suggestion, but my stepper motor (x axis) just needed the movement tuned. My bed is surfaced and sealed so humidity should be minimized. All is good now.

thanks

I was just going to drill a hole and use my calipers depth thing to check…lol

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thought I’d post the finished sign - everything was pre-painted before popping on the cnc. Very Little Afterwork.

pic includes some “Flash” back

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Hello! I finally got access to the local distributor for the product. You were absolutely not kidding that it is expensive! While I understand the usefulness of it, I can buy local sourced walnut at a fraction of the cost. The end user cost would be astronomical if I’m paying 690.00 for 32 sq/ft of the product. My question, is this the right product? I’m awaiting samples from the company as well.
Thanks!
Jake

I think you got quoted for the gold core version …

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Cost me $1200 delivered :frowning: as it comes from maryland to NY via freight

yes 18lb would work for exterior, I use 1.5" thick Sign Foam

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I’m close enough to a distributor (2 hrs one way). The 1.5” is 932.00 each.