How To Make an American Flag in Wood using Amana Tool® CNC Router Bits, Saw Blades and Vectric VCarve Pro
Hi, I am Andy Glass of WorkshopAddict.com. Today we're going to be making an American flag out of Walnut, Maple and Paduk using Amana Tool CNC bits and saw blades.
We start the entire process at the computer in Vectric VCarve Pro. It is a CAD/CAM package that allows you to create geometry and then generate tool paths that are tied to those geometries.
We downloaded a dot SVG flag file and imported it into VCarve Pro. We modified the flag to fit it on our CNC machine and our capabilities, all while keeping the ratios of the various lengths, widths of the stars, stripes and different sections of the flags.
This design can be purchased in the link in the description if you'd like to make a flag yourself.
We first jointed one end of our five-quarter hardwood at the joiner. This ensures a nice flat edge and a 90-degree corner. Using Amana tool MD260-800 and our miter saw, we cut all our boards to rough length. The blade provides an extremely smooth cutting surface, and with the high tooth count, the cut is nearly tear-out free.
At the table saw, we use Amana tool number MD10-301 to rip all our boards into the strips we need. With all the stripes ready for glue up, we used our cordless biscuit joiner to put biscuit slots in the boards to help keep the boards flush during the glue up. It adds a bit of work but we felt it was absolutely worth it to keep the flag as thick as possible.
We glued up the flag in five different glue ups. First, we needed to glue up the lower stripe section together. Then the upper stripe section together and then the flag background section together.
We then used Amana tool number 610801C to cross cut the panels.
Before we can glue up the star section to the upper stripe section, the joint needs to be nice and square for a perfect clean joint. We need to make these cuts at the table saw with a crosscut sled that is dialed in to 90 degrees.
The cut quality was glass smooth and was ready for glue up.
We again used biscuits and glue with a custom clamping setup that uses a wedge to apply clamping force to the joint. We didn't have any clamps long enough for the length of the flag.
We glued the flag in so many separate glue ups so we could fit them in our 15-inch planer. Once we planed them nice and smooth, we used biscuits and glue to glue the top half to the bottom half together.
With the entire flag glued up, we head back to the table saw with our crosscut blade installed, and using our crosscutting sliding table and fence, we cut the flag to the correct length starting with the left side and then the right.
In preparation for some CNC action, we used Amana tool number RC-225 to flatten an old piece of MDF at the CNC.
A flat and true spoilboard ensures your material is sitting parallel to your CNC. This is incredibly important for engraving, sign work, and inlay work like we're going to do today.
As you can see in the beginning of the spoilboard process, it was taking much more material than at the end. This tells me the table is not sitting in the same plane as the X and Y axes. After the Spoilboard is surfaced, it will be perfect.
We install Amana tool number RC-1108 into the CNC spindle in preparation for the VCarve inlay process.
The VCarve process is a relatively simple process to understand but can be tricky to execute. For both the female and male parts of the inlay, you’ll need to use the same V bit. In this case we're using a 60-degree bit that has a carbide insert.
We first make the female inlay operations into the star section of the actual flag itself.
The VCarve technique is unique and extremely valuable as you keep nice sharp and crisp corners instead of leaving the radius of your CNC bit in the corner of your design. So instead of a rounded star point, we have nice crisp sharp points. This is achieved by a combination of all the axes of your CNC working together. As the bit approaches a corner or the point of the star in this case, the Z axis raises to bring it to a nice point.
We will use Amana tool number 46245 to clear most of the material in the male inlay. With the VCarve inlay only being 0.2 inches deep, we should've used a stubbier tool so we can push our speeds and feeds a bit more aggressively and cut down on the machine time.
You always want to use the shortest tool possible to avoid chatter and vibration; and as we mentioned earlier, this also allows you to be more aggressive with your speeds and feeds.
With the majority of the material removed by the quarter inch end mill, we can switch back to the same 60-degree insert bit we use for the female inlay and give the male inlay the same taper to match it perfectly.
Using Amana tool number 46248, we mill out the majority of the two keyhole slots we put in the back of the American flag so we can hang it on the wall nice and flush.
Next we install Amana tool number 45650. It's a keyhole bit to make the actual keyhole slots. It is important that the piece is perfectly in line with the CNC or your key holes will not be parallel to the edge of the flag. This will cause it to hang crooked when using the keyhole slot.
We can finally glue and paste the male inlays into the star section of the flag.
My CNC isn't stiff or rigid enough to glue in the stars all at once. I cut them into individual stars with the bandsaw so I could handle them one at a time. I apply glue to the female pocket and spread it around with a small acid brush. I find the correct orientation of the male star inlay and press it in place. Each star gets its own clamp.
With the surface bit installed back in the CNC, we can take the excess inlay material down to the flag with a little bit left to sand away.
A quick sanding with 80, 150 and 220 grit paper brings the stars flush to the flag and the entire flag nice and smooth and ready for finish.
I spray on four coats of semi-gloss lacquer with an HVLP gun hooked up to my air compressor. I make sure to get the edges on each pass.
We really like how this American flag turned out. The stars are a bit tricky to nail down, but once we came up with a good recipe to do them, the results were fantastic.
If you'd like to make one for your house or your lake cabin, or maybe as a gift, we have link in the description for plans available.