This past weekend we started on a new project: building a baby / dog gate for the bottom of the stairs. When the kids come over they often bring their dogs which we don’t want upstairs and at some point our grand son, Sawyer will be wandering about and stairs are not an desirable early adventure.
After searching for a bit we came across a post at: http://woodgears.ca/home/baby_gate.html that was close to what I had in mind!. SO here was the jumping off point for the new design.
- Made of oak or ash ot match the existing wood work, yet not weigh a ton
- Pivot out of the way on the inside of the stairs
- Stain to match existing wood work as this is likely to be in place for 10 years or so.
- Use the CNC router (yes I still need to show pay back for the $$$ invested)
Stock is 1/2″ thick ash. This was to use up some planks I had that were a bit on the thin side and save weight compared to oak.
The spindle drawing was exported from Sketchup and imported into Vcarve Pro.
- Auto tab placement in this case is useless. You need to place the tabs yourself to make them line up with each other rather than air.
- Add more tabs than you think you will need. Sometimes the wood will spring as it is cut due to internal stresses. You don’t want to have the pieces ruined due to the tabs breaking due to stress.
- Make sure you have adequate material left for your clamps and consumable clamp ends if “cutting it close” to fit the available stock
So the with the first piece I got 3 spindles cut before the board warped and broke apart (hence the lots of tabs requirement). Plus I was seeing more chatter / roughness than I would like with 4 tabs per piece . Second plank was done with 6 tabs per piece. Much better cut quality and it held together. Here is a sample of the CNC router cutting the spindles – sped up after the first cuts.
I then moved the gantry to the far end to clear off the parts and place the blank for the new one. On removing the pieces, I see the waste board has the outline of part of the last spindle — oh oh – router bit slipping in the collet – I must tighten more next time. I then reset the bit, put in the new blank and then go to move the gantry and – nothing. System is in emergency stop and on further investigation I find one of the stepper drivers for the Y axis is malfunctioning.
Bummer. I had hoped to run a bunch of parts over the weekend and the stepper drivers are 1 week short of the 1 year warranty limit.
Even with the failure I had almost enough spindles cut to make the gate. One had to be cut by hand on the bandsaw and then cleaned up with hand plane, scraper and sander –what a pain. So we had the parts ready for staining and assembly the first day although with the CNC failure my mood was not great. We pre-stained the parts and added 2 coats of garnet shellac to better match the yellowing of the 20 year old wood.