CNCed companion cube

I’ve recently gotten my Shapeoko 3 up and running and I’ve been banging two rocks together trying to learn Fusion 360 and CAM.  I decided that the best way to do that was to just jump in and design something that I really would like to have and then cut it out.  After about 400 linear feet of mistakes made in pine, I finally feel like I have a working understanding of how to use my CNC.  My first ‘keeper’ project is a Companion Cube cut out of red oak.

The first challenge was making a model that I could cut and then assemble into a cube.  I used some pictures I found online to get the overall design together and then carved that up so I could cut the pieces out of flat stock without having to worry about things like the 3d bumper style corners on the cube.  I ended up with 3 different shapes to cut, a large side, a small side and a top.  The model is up on Thingiverse and Grabcad.

Learning CAM took a bit. I made a lot of mistakes early on assuming that it was like 3d printing and that you only needed one or maybe 2 types of cuts. Turns out you need lots of operations to get a smooth piece out of the machine. But, eventually I prevailed and made my first cuts into pine scrap. Sorry for the music, I hate CNC videos where you have to deal with the super annoying milling noise, so have some piano.

I made a lot of mistakes with pine and eventually took a big chunk out of my waste board (measure your stock!!) . So after a quick upgrade to the build plate, clamps, dust collection and putting it all onto a rolling cart (it ended up being a very expensive repair 😛 ) I was ready to cut oak.


The first two panels cut well, but I ran into an issue pretty quickly. It seems that as you remove material from the wood, internal stresses are released and the boards begin to bow. Not terribly, I’ve been able to compensate with clamps and glue so far, but enough that I’m considering epoxy on the inside. After around 24 hours of total cut time, the cube is fully glued up and ready to be sanded and finished.


As it turns out, I’m not very good at stain.  What I want is a light stain that shows the wood grain and leaves the piece looking worn and almost rustic.  What I got currently looks like paint.   I’m likely going to end up spray painting this one and starting over, but the milling worked out well.


I ended up continuing the staining but decided I was going to make it look post test chamber and weather/beat/burn the hell out of it. Here it sits finished in my game room.