Create Your Own Two-Tone Sign

Finished Weber Sign

Signs are one of the best (and easiest) projects to make quickly, and perfectly on a CNC machine. This tutorial walks you through creating a sign of a favorite company, product, or team. Use this tutorial to help kickstart your next project!

Signs are super easy to make with Carbide Create on the Shapeoko CNC Router!


Resources

Before you get started, here are the resources you will need to complete this tutorial.

Files

  • Downlod the original design files here: SVG Logo File
  • Download the Carbide Create Design file (with toolpaths) here: Download

Supplies

  1. Material of your choice (18” x 10” x 1/2” Baltic Birch used in this project)
  2. #102 Cutter
  3. #201 Cutter
  4. Workholding
  5. Paint (black spray paint used in this tutorial)
  6. RO Sander
  7. Sanding Pads: 80, 120, 220 grit

Design

Finished Weber design

Begin by importing the original design file (in this case logo.svg) into Carbide Create. Click OPEN from the top menu.

Use the Scale tool to adjust the image to the size you want. Then, clean up any irrelevant details to make the image more machinable.

In this case, I scaled the image to about 16” x 7” and removed some details from the bottom of the grate.

Toolpaths

Finished Weber design toolpaths

When the design is finished, we are ready to add toolpaths. This design riquired 4 seperate toolpaths, which we will outline below.

Operation 1: Details

The tiny inside details of the grill need to be pocketed out in order to keep the image looking correct. Select all of those inside features by holding shift or command while clicking each one individually.

Click Contour then select the #102 tool from the library (this is an 1/8” square endmill). Define the Target Depth as 0.125” then select the Pocket operation to clear out the inside of each feature. Then name the operation and click OK.

Operation 2: Main Body

To achieve the effect we are going for (keeping the letters and border raised) we must machine out (pocket) between the border and the letters and grill.

To do this, select all of the letters, the outside shape of the grill, and the inside border.

With everything selected, click contour. Because this is such a larger area, we want to use a larger cutter to speed up the process. Chose the #201 cutter from the library (this is a 1/4” square endmill).

Define the rest of the parameters as shown in the image above. Name the operation and click OK.

You can click the Show Simulation button to preview what the operations are going to look like.

You will notice that the previous operation you created (Details) is also rendered in the simulation - showing you all of the work you have done up to this point.

Operation 3: Outside Border

Create the outside border by defining a pocket between the inside border and the middle border.

Click Contour, and still using the #201 cutter, define the parameters.

Name the operation, and click OK. Then preview the job to make sure you selected what you intended.

Operation 4: Profile Cut

The last toolpath to create is the profile cut. This operation should be defined LAST as it will cut the sign away from the stock material.

Click the outside border, then click Contour then define the Outside Cut with the parameters shown in the image above.

With all of the toolpaths created, take a final look at your design by clicking Show Simulation.

Saving Gcode

Because we used 2 different tools in this project, we need to export 2 different files - one for each cutter.

  • One file with the 1/8” cutter toolpaths (includes the ‘Details’ toolpath)
  • One file with the 1/4” cutter toolpaths (includes the body, border, and profile toolpaths)

To save the 1/8” cutter file - individually right click on ‘Body’, ‘Border’, and ‘Profile’, selecting Disable for each one.

Go to the bottom of the left pane and click Save Gcode

Save the file as ‘weber-logo-125’

Going back to the toolpath names, right click on ‘Details’ and disable that toolpath. Then re-enable the rest.

  • Go to the bottom of the left pane and click Save Gcode
  • Save the file as ‘weber-logo-250’

Machine Setup.

Insert your #102 cutter (1/8” square endmill) into the spindle, then tighten the collet nut to secure.

  1. Secure the material to the machine.
  2. Center mark the material centerpoint
  3. Home the machine and clear all offsets
  4. Jog to the center mark
  5. Zero the X/Y
  6. Touch off the Z-axis (move the cutter down to the top of the material)
  7. Zero the Z-Axis

Running the Job

Load ‘weber-logo-125.egc’ - this is the 1/8” cutter file. The info screen will tell you some information about the job (extents for all 3 axis).

Click Run and start the job.

After the weber-logo-125.egc file finishes, the machine will move to the back center position.

  1. Change the tool to the #201 square endmill.
  2. Home the machine
  3. After homing, click JOG then select Rapid Coordinates.
  4. Click Last X/Y (this will move your machine back to X/Y zero)
  5. Touch off the Z-axis (move the cutter down to the top of the material)
  6. Zero the Z-Axis

Click Run, then Start the job.


Finishing

This is one of the simplest way to finish a sign, and have it turn out great.

After the job has finished, take a RO (random orbit) hand sander, and smooth out the sign. Some edges of the features will more than likely have rough spots, and hitting it with a high grit (120 or 220) sandpaper does a nice job of knocking these down.

Spray off the dust/debris from sanding. Then clean off the sign with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits.

Using spray paint (or hand paining) - spray the entire sign. Focus on getting the paint into all of the recesses. Shoot for a nice even coat, making sure you fill all of the crevices with paint.

protip: Everything on top will be sanded off, so the less paint you apply to the top, the easier it will be to sand!

After the paint has dried (this typically takes overnight). Come back with the RO sander and a very low grit sanding disc (80 grit works well).

Keeping the sander flat (not dipping it into the crevesis) and begin to sand off the excess paint from the top of the sign.

This will take several passes. The key here is to focus on keeping the RO flat on the top, and applying an even amount of pressure as you sand off the extra paint.

After a few minutes of sanding, you should end up with a great looking two-tone sign!

Finish the sign with a clear coat to protect and keep the paint and contrast looking great.


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