Multi-Piece High School Directors Bandstand Project – Tiling Technique

Directors Bandstand Project


I am sure that all of you CarveWright owners can understand that owning such a cool machine means that you are constantly bombarded with people who would like your help with this project or that.   I usually oblige eagerly because we constantly have new things to try or test on the machines here in the shop.  We always want multiple machines running.  Sometimes these projects are as small as a room sign…


…as fun as a 3-D Mustang head for our YMCA camping group…


….or as large as an eight foot tall neighborhood directory sign.


In the following blog I am going to chronicle one of these friend-generated projects; one that should be of interest to many of you because it is large enough to require multiple pieces.   The current challenge is to take this logo from a local school…


 and turn it into a functional and decorative version of this…


…which is a band directors podium.

The first step is to import the graphic into the software.  The most important thing to understand when importing any graphic is that to get a clean carving you MUST have a high resolution image at the start…you MUST-MUST-MUST!  Remember the old computer programing saying “Garbage in Garbage out?”  The same applies with the CarveWright Designer software.  To get clean carved edges you must have the resolution in the image, especially if you are going to enlarge the image once it is placed on the board.  If possible, try to get the image in its native vector format and then import it at a very large size.  One personal rule of thumb is that if the digital size of the image is less than 0.5 Mb then you will start seeing artifacts in the carving due to pixilation if it is much bigger than 6″ x 6″ carved.

In my case the image supplied was very small (76 Kb).   I had Joe run the image through Adobe Illustrator to remove the background red.  As you can barely see at this size, the edges are very jagged.


Next he ran the auto trace function on the image which transformed the edges into crisp and clean lines ready for importing into the software.


In my next installment I will show how I laid out this pattern over two 11″ wide planks.  Stay Tuned!



Now that we have the graphic cleaned up I will import it into the software, create a pattern from it, and place it on my 11″ x 32″ board(s).  Since the graphic will be spanning multiple boards it is important that I place it precisely.  I will do this by attaching  key nodes of the pattern relative to the edge that will be butt jointed.  On the top piece I used the top-center node to attach it to the board center-line.  I also used the center-right node to attach it to the board edge (the one that will be butt joined).


On the bottom piece  I used the bottom-center node to attach it to the board center-line and the same center-right node to attach it to the board edge (the one that will be butt joined).   If  your goal is to line up a pattern that spans multiple boards, make sure that the size is exactly the same.  It is very easy to tweak the size inadvertently.  Double check the size and attachment points before you proceed to the carving.


So in very short order I have my two separate projects to carve.  The next step is uploading the projects and walking the card to the machine!


My next step is to ready the materials.  I used two 1″ x 12″ Select Pine boards cut to 32″ long.  I definitely want to make sure that the board never leaves both rollers because of their length.  In my project, all of the carving is offset from the edge more than 3.5″ so the board will always be under the rollers.

On something this large, complex, and expensive, I always cut a test piece.  I used a piece of scrap plywood that I had in the shop.  The result was very good.  I verified that the pattern looked to be correctly positioned at the edge to be joined.


So now I can confidently carve my finished material.  Taking a quick look at my material shows that one of my boards exhibits a significant cup.  The machine will not be able to correct for this cup with the head pressure so I have to purchase another piece.


On something this long I recommend that you always use masking tape to maintain contact with the tracking roller.  If you ever are having board tracking issues with a particular board use the tape trick.  It fixes it most of the time.


Top side come out great!


As does the bottom!


Next time we will joint it together and talk about sanding and finishing.


We now have the two carve halves of our podium top surface.  Casually putting them together shows that the logo lines up perfectly.


Unfortunately, I also notice that there is an issue with the feather lining up at the joint.


This is an issue with how the software handles design data that extends beyond the edge of the board and it is one of those lesson that you have to learn a couple times before it sinks in (yes even after 8 years with the machine I still learn repeat hard lessons).   In our case, the design software throws away all information that resides outside the borders of the workpiece.  This usually doesn’t cause problems unless the carving is not symmetrical near the joint.  My project is not and it causes the feather to trace only the geometry it can “see” and causes a foreshortening of the feather on one side of the  joint.  Bad news but with most things wood it is fixable.  The best way to avoid this issue is to set your pattern back from the edge and then trim the board with a table saw after it is carved.  Lets forge ahead!

A band directors podium, by it very nature, will be trampled on, kicked, jumped off and generally abused.   So we are going to use biscuits to reinforce the joint between the two carved slabs.  I put biscuits every 4″.


A little glue and clamps….


And a  little handwork straightening up the feather misalignment at the joint….


We are now ready for finishing and assembly to the base!  At this point I turned it over to the student to finish.  The final result was amazing.

Building and painting the base…


 A little masking…


And paint…

New Podium 5

Makes a very happy student!

New Podium 2

As usual, another great project for a friend.  This is a great project to test your design skills and demonstrate the power of the CarveWright.

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