|Project by SantaPaulaCraftsman||posted 02-07-2016 07:15 PM||604 views||3 times favorited||4 comments|
Our 1899 Victorian had been purchased 8 years ago with a plain wood railing from the 1960s. The wife and I wanted something fancier, but not overly complicated… as some Victorian mill work tends to be.
Custom wood railings are expensive. I have more time than money, and a lot of tools, but this would entail over 75 individual hand-cut pieces and they would need to be exactly the same in order to look correct when joined together. I could make a master template, but even with the cutting and routing it looked like another ‘Some day, when I have time’ project.
Then, a friend just bought a small home CNC machine and offered its use. This would be the perfect opportunity to make a custom router blank. We drew up a couple samples and he used a CAD program to make paper prototypes.
After choosing one, we bought construction-grade pine boards rather than MDF. I wanted knots, grain, and some irregularities so it would look like wood and not plastic.
The problem soon became apparent. The CNC, although deadly accurate and simple, needed 5 incremental passes of each board to hog thru the lumber, plus the set-up of eight boards per job on the CNC bed, set precisely each time so that the bit would hit the board in the right place. This would take several days of extremely loud, boring work in someone’s home located in a residential neighborhood. I would be testing his wife’s patience. No bueno.
1. CNC cuts a single pass 1/2” groove in each board
2. Band saw rough cut the shape using the groove as a guide
3. Router bearing guide bit to ride on the CNC groove for final shape
The painting (primer plus 2 coats paint) took far longer than the fabrication.
Now I know why custom wood railings are so expensive.
-- Life so short, the craft so long to learn