Many times, I get asked if I hand carve my custom carved flags and coasters. The answer is no, I’m not that patient! I use a computer numerical control (CNC) router to do the carving, but quite a bit of prep work is required to tell the machine what to carve.
If you think the machine does all of the work, you’re sadly mistaken. The real work comes in the prep. The type of machine controller determines the process to take to get the CNC machine running. Typically, a customer sends me a graphic they want carved. I then upload the picture or file into a drawing software (CAD) and convert to vectors. Often times I have to redraw all or part of the graphic in order for it to be vectorized. It’s now time to select the proper cutting tool that will yield the desired result and develop the toolpath for the machine to follow. After selecting the toolpath, the newly created vector file is uploaded into a specialized software to convert the vectors into G-code (the language understood by the CNC router); G-code is a series of graph coordinates for X (length), Y (width), and Z (depth). Once the material to be carved and the machine are set up, the G-code is sent to the router controller and the carving process begins.
At this point, I cross my fingers and wait. If all of the prep and design work was properly done, I end up with another beautiful custom-carved flag or coaster!