Fusion 360 for woodworkers – session 2

This second session builds on the previous user interface overview post, focusing on:

  • Creating and exporting a design
  • Open a sketch
  • Draw a line in a new model
  • Draw a shape
  • Save the sketch

The PDF for session 2 can be found here.

A screencast of demonstrating this material (with audio).

Fusion 360 for woodworkers – session 1

During this social distancing opportunity, I’ve not been posting much lately. One of the reasons was I’ve been working on a getting started set of sessions for using Fusion 360. This is the tool I’ve been using for most of my CNC work.

This CAD package has many capabilities and a free hobbyist license. Since SketchUp moved away from a hobbyist desktop version to a web-based approach, moving to a more powerful tool seemed to be a wise thing to do. I can only hope that Fusion 360 doesn’t follow a similar route…

There are MANY Fusion 360 videos out on YouTube and numerous web sites covering the topic as well. Since I was putting together a series of sessions for our woodshop on Fusion 360 using a synchronous collaboration (Zoom), I thought I share the support presentation materials here as well.

There will be a post summarizing each sessions with a link to a PDF covering the material. As of now, there will be 9 sessions in all. Each one will have a bit of homework to cover before the next session. The goal is for the woodworkers to have a working knowledge of Fusion, not to turn them into a designer – I’ll leave that as an exercise for the student. A power and issue with Fusion is there are so many ways to do something.  I don’t claim that the examples included are the best possible, but hope they prove to be a useful example (even a bad example is still an example).

The session outline is (by session #):

  1. An overview of the user interface
  2. Creating a sketch with a line and a shape, as well as an introduction to parameters and constraints
  3. Bodies and components
  4. Fusion tips and copying design elements
  5. Creating a lap joint and using parametric design
  6. Parametric driven table base design
  7. Mortis and Tenon, putting top on the table
  8. Dovetails and using Revolve to create a pawn
  9. Generating drawings

As I get feedback, I try to update the slides, as well as provide additional Screencasts, if the updates will enhance the understanding. This updating effort will hopefully make this a training resource for our shop, so I don’t have to give the class synchronously again and can just response to questions…

The first session PDF can be found here.

A new engraving project – Hufflepuff

Now that the 3D printer is operational again, I needed something else to tackle. So I dusted off the CNC machine — literally.

My daughter is into Harry Potter and has taken the test to determine she is a Hufflepuff. I had sitting around so I thought I would cut out the Hufflepuff crest. Here is what the crest is supposed to look like:

Hufflepuff crest

I only had Poplar available, so ended up creating this:

6″ wooden Hufflepuff crest

Poplar has long fibers and is not all that hard of a wood, so it did not come out as nice as I would have liked. This piece has no real sanding to clean up the edges, but that is easily addressed.

I used a 1mm flat bit to clear away the open areas to a depth of 2mm and a 60 degree V bit for the edges and detail. Overall, I deem the design a success. The next problem is determining how to finish it or to start over with some Maple or other more appropriate wood.

An Intro presentation to CNC

I recently gave an Introduction to CNC presentation to the Woodshop here in Sun City. So I thought I’d share it here.

The presentation and demonstration was fairly well received, though I did make a few tweeks, this presentation is the revised version. I am going to give it again next month, so we’ll see if it needs to be improved again.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I am just sharing what I’ve learned along the way and try and encourage others to share their knowledge and experiences.

I also continue to give an Introduction to 3D printing presentation that I pulled together a while back.

Port Royal Sound in Wood

Port Royal Sound

I have been looking for something challenging to try with my CNC machine and landed on cartography. I took a map bitmap and converted it to a Scalable Vector Graphics file using Inkscape. Imported the SVG file into Fusion 360 and turned that into G-code for a 2 mm bit flat end bit (for the big water area removal, a 1 mm bit for the shoreline and finally a V-carve 60 degree bit for the tributaries.

After I got the board cut, I then thought “How can I make this look better?” So I painted the whole thing light blue and lightly sanded off the top later to let the wood show through. The final result is the picture above. My wife wants me to put a frame around it.

The picture shows Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort Parris Island and the Port Royal Sound. Hopefully, you can see the resemblance.

The next time I do this though I will paint the whole thing a dark color (e.g., black) and then do the cutting to let the light colored wood shine through. That should allow all the finer detail to shine through.

Another tessellation comes out of its shell

After the other lizard and the seahorse designs came out so well, I thought I tackle something with a bit more detail. This is a turtle design that uses a 20° V bit for the details (using the trace operation) and then a 1.5 mm flat end bit to cut the outline (using the 2D contour cut). These designs were a bit smaller, so they are being cut out two at a time.

The CAD drawing of the turtle

The design is using 4 different types of wood: maple, walnut, cherry and palm. Here is the unfinished work in progress. There is a ruler in the pic to show scale.

Cut turtles

I still need to clean them up but its about ready to be finished.

I might next try a multi-layer 3D design. Those will take a bit more creativity than technical challenge the tessellations had to fit together.

Vbit carving for Christmas

I mentioned in the last post that I was moving on from a square end bit to a Vbit. My little CNC machine came with ten 20-degree Vbits. My first attempt was do use Fusion 360’s engraving option and defining a bit that has the same dimensions as mine:

The closest bit I could find to use as a definition starting point was a Chamfer mill bit.

Next, I found a serif font that looked like it may be an interesting test of detailed work. Baskerville looked like a good choice. I tried to cut out 3 versions 6.85mm (1/4” high), 12.7mm (1/2” high) and a 25.4mm (1” high).

It came out fairly well, but on something with cuts as wide as the 1” tall letters, it felt like it was going to China. Next I tried writing out Merry Christmas with the Rothenburg font at 1.5 inches tall. You can’t get too much more Christmassy than that.

The cut came out OK, but the details were rough. It also felt like it was going to China when it was cutting the wider parts of the letters. When doing engraving, the bit moves up and down, high for the details and deep for wider cuts. I was glad I put a maximum depth of 3mm, otherwise it may have gone even deeper. The cutting process also chewed up the bit to the point where it was significantly shorter than it was when it started. The machine also vibrated so much that the bearings started to come loose.

In the next attempt, I tried to perform a pocket cut on the larger dimensions and then use the Vbit engraving only for the detailed work. This attempt came out better (and definitely took much less time), though I did have to do a bit change about halfway through.

I still have much to learn about using the Vbit but it has been educational and the combination of the two bits is likely the way to go to minimize the wear on the Vbit.

Merry Christmas to all…

Finished the Seahorse project

Last month I mentioned I had a new project I was starting. It took quite a bit longer than I thought it would but I finally declared victory.

A tessellation in Walnut and Maple

I ended up using a two part Epoxy to give it a glass like finish and a cherry box as a frame. In the process, I learned that it can easily take an hour and a half before all the bubbles come out of the Epoxy. I still had one come bubble appear out sometime after that, but its late appearance could be caused by the interlocking structure of the design.

I have ideas for a few other tessellations that build on the sea life theme, but I think I’m done with them for a while.

Next I am moving on to using some V bits in the CNC machine to do some fine designs. I’ll likely need to 3D print some new types of clamps to hold the materials down though.

A new tessellation project enters…

Been quite busy lately – my son got married in the Dominican Republic so that pulled me away from doing any more computer or woodworking activities.

I thought to get back into it though I’d try something extending what I learned from tackling the reptile project. The new effort requires a bit more precision than the last one. Since I live near the coast a sea based design may be appropriate. This one is also Escher inspired and is a tessellation based on seahorses.

Since this design needs to lock into each other more than the last, I thought using design parametric and constraints would be a great way to start. Fusion 360 lets you define relationships between lines (e.g., they must be the same length, they must per perpendicular).

The equal signs in the illustration above show when a line has a length equality relationship with another line, in this closeup of the seahorse gills. This ability to define the relationship is useful since the gill elements will need to fit inside each other.

To create the g-code to manufacture the seahorse, I used the trace (for the eyes) and contour capabilities to define the commands to cut out the outline. These were defined to be cut using a 1.5 mm bit.

It took 4 iterations before I was able to reliably produce the seahorse. In the final design, I had to turn off the constraints on some design elements (up by the mouth of the seahorse) to interlace the design elements effectively.

I am going to use walnut and maple in an alternating design to produce the final result. So far, I’ve just been creating the walnut designs and they seem to be produced reliably.

I’ll put out another post when I put them all together and epoxy the design. It will be at least a week though.

The finished version of my CNC’d holiday sign

I originally thought I’d mount this on a walnut base but changed my mind when a piece of Purpleheart fell into my lap. I ran a saw blade dado cut down the middle of the board and cut it to length.

I have some refinements to do on the design, but I think it turned out OK for a first attempt. I ended up painting the stars gold with the rest of the design taped over. I then pulled off that tape and taped over the stars. I then painted everything black. I could then remove all the tape. Next, I then ran it through the sander until the black paint was removed, leaving the paint in the letters. Finally, I polyurethane the whole thing, just to keep the humidity out.