Simple stuff – but lots of Prep……. the life in a machine shop

We are working on a milling project for a balsa wood CO2 dragster for a high school student from Suncoast Poly Tech in Sarasota. He came very prepared with a Solid works 3d file and even MasterCam Milling toolpath.  Looks great…… We asked him  “how do you intend on holding it while you cut all 4 sides.  So we said we would think about it as it’s wood and it would require some interesting work holding.

At first we thought we could just sticky tape it down and flip it around but we are “precision” machinists we can just be crude but we want to do it in a timely accurate way and learn from it.  We decided to use the 4th Axis  in our VF-2 Haas with High speed machining option.


We had to make a fixture to rotate it but clamping was still an issue
Sticky 3 M double sided tape

We decided to use another students idea – wood Deck screws – so we made 2 holes and screwed it in from the bottom and after machined locating bosses. We also had to prep the plate with a pin for drive side and line up for support on the far end.

We had to add Operation #1 to mill the inside of wheel wells in a vice with long 6MM Ball mill.

Then we mounted on the fixture – We were using MasterCam X8 for Solidworks with Keegan at the helm of the ship doing all programming.  He has a great background in Solidworks and took to this very quickly after having done the Turners Cube Project.

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and we start cutting….. We also start to realize how much we can cut, how fast , how deep as we had no experience making splinters with Balsa wood.  Plus we were worried about it even staying on.

Here we go – start at 20 IPM 8000k but end up at 100 IPM.  Glad we have high speed option.

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Cycle time started at 5 hrs but went down to 1 hour and I am sure we can do better.


Finished project – now we can do any ones CO2 car – slight fee please !!!!

Good job By Keegan McDuffie assisted by Jeff Borelli.


About cncdude5x

Lead Instructor for Precision Machining & CNC Automation Educational Program at Suncoast Technical College -
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