This project is very special to me for a few reasons. I think everyone who has a CNC machine at some point in time feels the need to push the machine to its limits by making something with crazy detail. A Mayan calendar, or something like that. Well, this project is my huge challenge.
I have a buddy that I have been friends with for just about 25 years. I met him when he came into my computer store to have a custom machine built, and I could see as soon as he walked in that he was severely physically challenged. He had difficulty with the door, and was unable to stand still because he can’t maintain balance. I invited him to sit in my office while we chatted, and the wheeled chair made him fall right away. I was horrified and afraid that he was going to sue my ass off. He told me to back off and leave him be, and I watched him struggle to get back to his feet, and finally settle into the chair. My admiration for this man was born on that day, and we have become steadfast friends.
Over the many years I have known him, I have seen him overcome so many challenges. Things that able-bodied people wouldn’t attempt to do. He has CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth) which is a degenerative muscular and nerve disease, somewhat like Muscular Dystrophy (which he was mistakenly diagnosed with for many years), and there is not any hope for things to get better for him. Back about ten years ago he fell out of his truck and broke his hip on the driveway. He has been in a wheelchair ever since.
I tell you that to tell you this: This man is an inspiration to me. For everything that I have been through in my life, this man has been through worse. When I feel like giving up and quitting, I think of him, and I find another way to solve the problem.
He recently celebrated his 46th birthday, and I wanted to do something special for him. Every birthday for years now is another one that he wasn’t supposed to have. He has been beating the odds for all of his life, and his favorite celebration is Jagermeister.
I spent a lot of time and effort to do this project. Finding Jager promotional materials is difficult - they have a unique product, and don’t really need to advertise. I found this artwork and set out to reproduce it in a special way.
I spent many hours editing and converting to create a cut file. Check out the toolpaths!
The window in the sled is three inches across, so this writing is small enough to completely cover with one finger.
Seven and a half hours in, with more than sixteen hours remaining (which is a complete lie, it took much longer), over 1.4 million packets!
About 11.5 hours in, some of the details are starting to come together and make more sense.
24 hours into the carve, the clock reset. The cut kept going, but I lost my preview and could not see anything on the Makerverse screen. It continued to cut, so I let it go.
At 42.5 hours, the carve was finally complete! I slept in short naps because I didn’t want to leave the machine alone for long. It was an exhausting process.
Here are a couple of closeups of the characters in the carve. This is the raw carve still on the machine, so I have not yet touched it to clean it up.
The cleanup process was pretty involved as well. I spent hours with different small sanding tools, a razor, and an air compressor to fix up all the little frizzy bits. I got it cleaned up and ready for the next phase, but had to make a whirlwind trip to Vancouver and back over the next three days (2,250km), and asked my wife if she could paint it while I was gone.
My wife knows how important this project was to me, and even though I only asked her to do a simple job with four or five different colors and just concentrate on making the words and the elk stand out, she went well above and beyond my (and even her own) expectations, and turned this into a masterpiece. This is about 13 hours worth of painting by hand with various tiny brushes, tubes, and blades.
Here it is a bit closer to show some better detail.
Here is the completed work mounted to the wall in my friend’s house above his favorite sitting chair.
I will build a frame to put it in at some point. I simply ran out of time on this project and had other things I just had to do. It was a crazy week, but we were able to present this to him for his birthday, enjoy a few drinks and laughs, eat some great food off the smoker, and celebrate.
I’m very pleased with this project. For anyone who says that a Maslow cannot do detailed work, have a good hard look at this. At some point I will redo this project and size it up a bit to pull out the greater details. For my first go at it though, this is amazing.