Community challenge #23: The Special One (closed)

Fellow chipmakers,

We have a VERY special community challenge for you this month!
The theme for challenge #23 will be: “ Make a sign ”.
Here is the special part: the 3 winners will get to participate in one of the upcoming coveted Betas for a [gizmo] from C3D!


Each winner will have to sign a NDA to get their [gizmo with an approx value of $500], which will be shipped out shortly after. Once you have your Gizmo the team wants you to put it to the test and tell us what you like, what you don’t and hopefully make more wonderful projects which we’d love to showcase on socials.

If you’re game, here are the rules :

  • submit your entry in this thread (you can post multiple entries if you want)
  • you must use your Shapeoko or Nomad - (the thing can be used on a Nomad but it’s more geared up for larger projects)
  • post pictures of the project and tell us about the process, the mistakes,


  • Deadline is set to Aug 22nd 2021, midnight PST
  • there will then be 7 days for voting.
    • voting will be open to legit community members only, and the jury reserves the right to remove votes from “outsiders”, and will also break any tie.

Are you excited yet ? I can’t wait to see your projects and stories.


One of the big things for signage is multi-layer V carves. For folks who don’t have a BitSetter, here’s how to do them:

and Fenrus did some instructions on this as well:

and for folks who are fully up-to-date:

A further consideration is text and the setting of text.

There are a couple of characters which have subtle differences in how they are typed vs. how they should actually be typeset. Some notes/links on this at:

I wrote a bit on typography at: which folks may find of interest.

  • " '* (uni-directional stick quotes — ignore the extra asterisk, it had to be added to keep the forum software from changing these to curly quotes automatically) These should be replaced by the correct characters: “ ” ‘ ’ curly quotes
  • ’ an apostrophe — ′ ″ or double and single prime marks (used when indicating feet, inches, or degrees; minutes and seconds)
  • X or x (to indicate multiplication or orthogonal dimension) Please use the symbol: ×
  • hyphen (-) often used to indicate not just hyphenation but also duration (en dash), a break in thought (em dash), or subtraction (minus symbol), additional code points are available for non-breaking and discretionary hyphens
    • – en dash
    • — em dash
    • − minus sign

If you’re using any special characters, I’d recommend looking them up at least in a dictionary to determine what they are and how they should be represented.


some really cool things can be done by adding subtle 3D features to a sign, like a volcano for “Lava Coffee”… If you have a Carbide Create Pro license, a tutorial to do this is at Cutting STL models with Carbide Create Pro (nearly-2021 edition) (that only shows how to do a 3D STL file into a rectangle, but you can place that rectangle anywhere on your design and do normal 2 1/2 D for the rest of the sign)



Can the sign be made previously on the Shapeoko? I have an old sign I made that I would like to submit, or must it be done from now until the deadline?

The spirit of the challenges is more about making things within the challenge timeframe, but if you have a previously made project AND you still have the work-in-progress pictures for a good writeup, by all means submit it. I have no way to verify anyway :slight_smile:

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I made a sign on my new Shapeoko Pro (upgraded from a V1 Engineering LowRider CNC) for my in-laws. They set up a “Corona Lounge” in their garage where they can have socially distanced cocktails with friends. First, the finished product:

One of their friends designed a t-shirt for the lounge that I thought was pretty cool, so I asked for the source file so I could make them a sign.

After wrestling with the PDF to get it into a SVG simplified enough that Fusion 360 could handle it, I extruded the letters, tree, and statue. Then I used those bodies to cut a shallow pocket into the background body to help line everything up when I glued it together.


First, I cut the background out of baltic birch, to make sure the scale and overall look matched what I was going for. I used a small negative “radial stock to leave” to make sure everything would fit — any small gap at the base is basically invisible.

Then I printed the letters, tree, and statue out on my 3d printer. I like using the printer for this kind of thing, because you avoid the CNC’s radius limitations on small interior corners.

The next step was to paint the letters, tree, and statue. The big letters were simple enough. I put a first coat on, let that dry, then slowly added lines of the opposite color to create a gradient effect.

I had issues painting the small pieces because they are so light that spray paint will move or flip them over. I drilled small holes in the back of each piece and used toothpicks to stick them into foam board, which worked great.

With the painting done, I was ready for a test fit on the background. Everything was looking good:

I had hoped to use real bamboo for the border, but the pieces I got weren’t straight enough to work well. I switched to pine 1x2’s to get the exact shapes I wanted:

I cut a recess for the leaves of the palm tree, as well as lap joints for the corners:


I used my blowtorch to char the border a little bit and then added colonial maple stain:

At that point I glued the border down, added a couple of coats of polycrylic to protect the wood, glued the letters/tree/statue on with CA glue, and added mounting hardware to the back. Overall, I’m really happy with how this project went — I was able to stay very close to the original design, and they really liked it :grinning:



Knocked it out of the park, amazing job! Congratulations!


Thank you Sam, it was quite interesting to read about all individual steps involved, and the sign is awesome, way to get some in-law points !
Also, kudos for daring to import a somewhat-complex SVG into Fusion, on my (aging) computer it feels like playing Russian Roulette :slight_smile:


Thanks! At first Fusion would crash every time I imported the file. The only thing that worked was using Inkscape’s “simplify path” function to remove a lot of vertices, and then importing each part as its own sketch. Even then, I had trouble with the leaves — I had to simplify so much they weren’t really usable. I went back later and manually redrew the paths for the final version.



Now this is going to be fun. There are some ideas kicking around already…I need to order material!

One of these days I’ll need to get my hands on a shapeoko to compete with the big dogs. (Heh, pun…shapeoko, big…it’s funny I promise)

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Wow, just killer in all aspects. Great documentation, too! That is so sick. Loved your “pin board” for painting misc parts that are hard to hold some other way. I will probably steal that :slight_smile:


Finally, good timing on a challenge as I just completed a sign! This is a pretty simple sign that is based off of a National Parks sign. There are several versions of it that I’ve seen on Etsy, but I did a mashup of several different designs. I used 3 different fonts and added the sasquatch in place of a tree.

The size is 15" x 22" which is just about the max for my SO3 XL.

My first attempt failed miserably. The end mill came loose and dove down which ruined a lot of expensive walnut. (Sorry, no process pics.)

So, I started over with three new pieces of walnut that were jointed and glued together.

I then masked the bottom and painted it. The top was then masked with 3" blue tape and the whole sign was carved. The bottom was masked so I could spray paint the rest of the carving. It was unmasked and finished using a spray spar poly. It was made for my in-law’s cabin on Lake Huron and I hung it while on vacation there last week.

I used a 1/4" 60 degree v-bit for the letters and a 1/4" downcut end mill for the “Welcome” rough cut, the Sasquatch pocket, and the profile.


That looks great! The finish on the bottom section is really impressive — I’ve had trouble pre-painting because I always end up needing to sand down burrs/fuzzies. Did you need to do any cleanup, or was that straight off of the machine?

Thanks! This is just straight off the machine. Since I knew this would be hung outside and viewed from a distance, I didn’t work very hard to make it totally smooth. :grin:

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catherine sign

I’ll start by saying that I’ve had my Shapeoko Pro XXL for not quite a full month. With work and kids I haven’t had nearly as much time to play with it as I would like. These are signs for my daughters for their bedrooms. I told them to draw me whatever they wanted to be on them. Catherine was pretty simple with the hearts and her name. Bridget had dogs that looked like our dogs and softballs and food and a lot of other things that I was quite sure I couldn’t do… yet, so I asked her to simplify it a bit. She said just her name was fine. This is literally the 4th thing I’ve cut with it and I was pretty pleased with the results, with the exception of the bottom left corner of Catherine’s border.

I had a 3D Finish tool-path in there thinking it would make things more sharp and instead it started digging deeper into the MDF. I stopped the job, removed the tool-paths that were already complete and the 3D finish and started it again to pick up where it left off. Trying to patch the little hole will be a bit of a challenge but I’m going to let my daughters paint them whatever colors they like so I’m hoping it isn’t as noticeable when we’re done.


bridget sign


Carved out all the bits .25 Inch thick, painted them, then inlayed them .1 inch in the pockets I carved them out, carved a loon with a 15 degree vcarve bit. Cut the sign out, then glued it all up. Sprayed with exterior high gloss urethane.


Incredible work! Very inspiring!

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Island Park Idaho scout camp coasters.

Shapeoko Pro XXL
I planned on these being useful display pieces. I.E. Mini Sign :slight_smile:

Designed in Adobe Illustrator

Using Carbide Create for toolpaths
1/8 EM
60 degree V

Cut out of Vinyl flooring tile.

No cleanup required except for dusting the tops off.

Used a brown stain for darkening the letters

These are donation pieces for the new scout leaders as a memento for participating in events at the scout camp


New to CNC
I built my Shapeoko 3XXL Pro in March 2021. Since then I have been doing reading and watching a lot to gain information. I wanted to make a sign for my archery shop (my other hobby!) After many hours of deciding and designing, I finally made the choice to give it a try. I must say, I was very pleased with how it turned out. Both sides turned out great. I still have a lot to learn, but this sign did alot for my confidence. I have been making some other signs but this is the biggest at 30" x 24". Very happy with my Shapeoko and having fun.