Game of Thrones Doors

Game of thrones doors : The Story

Cutting Edge Designs was contracted by advertising agency Publicis London to machine 10 intricately designed wooden doors for Tourism Ireland, working in collaboration with HBO for the sixth season of their hit television series Game of Thrones. The Doors of Thrones where part of a global tourism campaign driving fans of the show to Northern Irelands shores.

When Storm Gertrude partially destroyed the Game of Thrones filming location known as in the Dark Hedges in January 2016, Publicis London set about using the wood from those downed trees to create 10 beautifully crafted bespoke doors. Each one based on the storyline from a new episode of Game of Thrones. A new door was unveiled each week as season six of the show unfolded. Iconic symbols and references from each episode were incorporated into the each of the doors, all designed by a handful of 2D and 3D illustrators from around the world. Once completed, each door was installed in a local pub or venue located in or near one of the many filming

locations used in Game of Thrones. The doors eventually formed a trail across the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.

Game of thrones door The Process

The first thing the organizers of the campaign had to do was design the 10 doors using rough plot outlines provided by HBO. Once designed and approved as 2D illustrations, these designs had to then be recreated in 3D, in order for the artwork to be converted for the machining process – undertaken by our engineers here at Cutting Edge Designs.

Next, the organizers had to find each of the 10 doors a home in a pub located in or near one of the popular Game of Thrones filming locations dotted around the country. Once HBO and Tourism Ireland were happy with each location, they were given the green light to proceed with the manufacture of the doors.

Each of the chosen pub doorframes were then measured and used by Stephen from Hazzles Hardwood to adapt the existing designs, and produce each of the initial blank door templates using the precious Dark Hedges wood.

game of thrones door number 4 made by cutting edge designs
door no4. after cnc machining by cutting edge designs
game of thrones door 3d model
game of thrones door in 3d before machinng
game of thrones 2d sketch
game of thrones 2d sketch











Game of thrones doors The Artwork

Before starting the carving process we routinely checked over the approved 3D model artwork, making alterations to ensure details would not be lost during both the conversion & 3d milling process. Once the final version of the 3D model was ready, we converted it into our CAD/CAM software so it was ready for tooling, we used a STL file format which is basically a triangular mesh that when rendered creates a high detailed 3D model. At Cutting Edge Designs we can use any type of 3D file, but we mainly use .RLF or .STL, as we find these work the best for these types of projects.

CNC Routering the Game of thrones doors

Once the file was double checked and imported into our CAM software we then set the job up for the intricate cutting process using our CNC Routers. This was one of the most important parts of the job, as any wrongly entered information like tool size, depth, speeds, feed rate, cutting position etc could potential destroy these specially made doors work plus you could damage the expensive CNC Machines, Luckily at Cutting Edge Designs we have over 20 years experience of doing this kind of work so we know what we are doing and in all fairness the doors where pretty easy to do


game of throne door blank set up
game of throne door blank set up


game of thrones door 3d model negative image view
game of thrones door 3d model negative image view
game of thrones door 3d model
game of thrones door 3d model in our cam software ready to get toolpaths
game of thrones door 3d toolpath closeup
game of thrones door 3d toolpath closeup , red shows what the machine will cut

Game of thrones doors : Machine time

Once we set up the blank doors on the CNC router we need to make sure its square to the x axis once square and in position we then clamped it down making sure none of the clamps are in the machines tool paths as its very easy to hit a clamp and destroy the tool , door or even the machine so close attention to this is critical , once the door was fully aligned and set up correctly we need to double check the tool parameters and run a cutting simulation , this helps show the final result plus indicate any potential problem areas within the tool paths .

cnc maching roughing pass closeup
cnc maching roughing pass closeup
final door finished
final door finished

We decided on using a 12mm ball nose for our initial rough cutting – this removed the excess material so it would be easier for the smaller tools to do the finer details. A 90 degree to wood cut angle was also implemented so as to not lift or split the wood along the grain. We then added the small 3mm ball nose to achieve all the important finer details.
The rough cut cycle took about 6 hours per door, but once finished, the finer detail work took an average of 50 hours per door to complete. Once the door was finished machining and any problem areas fixed it was sent to be sanded and professionally stained by one of Game of Thrones own set painters.


Signage Letters

Signage letter types , materials and how they are made

At cutting edge designs we make all sorts of signage letters from simple flat cut letters to beautiful hand craft channel & carved letters and , we use a vast range of materials some listed below , we can also apply specialist colours to any ral or pantone code if the customer requires along with a number of fixture types again most commonly used would be general sign locators but we have various options for various situations

Materials we typically use for signage letters

  • Aluminium composite
  • Acrylic
  • Polycarbonate
  • Wood
  • Mdf ( All grades )
  • Mdf ( tricoya brilliant for signage letters)
  • Plywood
  • Real hard woods like oak ,
  • Foamex
  • HPL
  • Aluminium

Here is a list of typically signage letters we make at Cutting Edge Designs

  • Flat cut letters ( all material as above )
  • Chamfered / radius letters
  • Carved letters ( pristmatic )
  • Engraved cut letters
  • Channel letter ( built up letter )
  • 3d letter ( machined carved )
  • Painted letters

Flat cut letters

We make flat cut letters all the time via our CNC routers we use the range of materials as shown above and below ( so read on to see the different materials) anyway flat cut letters is what it says just letters machined out of the sheet material these can be supplied with locators , studs or d/side tape as fixtures but can be left blank for the customer to choose themselves, we can also supply a printed layout so the customer or fitter knows the positioning of each letter so it looks right on the wall .

So how do I get flat cut letter from us and what is the process

Well that is simply just email us your CAD file of the letters you want cut if you can supply a CAD file then give us a ring and tell us what you want we will draw the letters up for and send it back for approval once design and size of letters is approved tell us what material you would like them in , we then select that material place it onto one of our CNC routers or CNC lasers and cut them out once cut we can added the fixings and supply a layout if you want these really pretty simple if all else fails just email or best yet give us a phone on 028 302 68623

Chamfered / radius letters

A chamfered letter has a beveled edge around the outside of the letters this adds a bit more style and helps smooth off the square edge that a typically flat cut letter would have there is 2-3 times as more cutting required to add a chamfer or radius ( radius is round edge chamfer is angled edge) to the lettering so it does cost a more to add this but it does upgrade the flat cut letter to the next level depending on budget its worth doing especially on larger thicker letters , another good feature of a chamfered edge is an old school touch of gold leafing the chamfer this really makes the letter stand out

Making a chamfered letter

Well it pretty easy all you are doing is adding another tool path to the cnc machine code, we normally do 3 cuts to make these the first cut is a clear out pass to remove material away for the area we intend to chamfer as this gives you a much cleaner bevel or radius as all it has to cut is the bevel itself , once the bevel is added we simply machine the rest of the letter out and that’s the letters cut not much to it just takes more machine time and set up that’s all

Cnc Carved letters

Carved letters are letters which are machined out of a thick material which normally go into a point in the centre of the letter as shown below , this typically carved letter we are talking about here is also known as prismatic letter. These letters are great for gold leafing as the machined angles of the letters makes the letters pop and really stand out especially in sun light as well as this and more importantly they give a real high quality look to any shop front this is why they are very popular but they are pretty expensive especially if you use gold leaf, you know the old saying you get what you pay for well its true in this case

How are they done

Well its simply you send us your cad file again we can sort this out if you don’t have a cad file once size & design of letters is agreed we take a block of normally 19 -25mm foamex pvc and place it onto the CNC machine then we set up the router to cut this type of lettering as it requires some special tool paths to create the machine code , once we have that already we send to the router and it carves the letters out ,after the letters are cut they are then hand sanded to get a really smooth surface we then apply the fixture either locators or suds once that is done they either go for spraying or gold leafing , they is a lot of work in these letters hence they do cost especially the gold leaf that very time consuming but the end result are stunning and will make you shop stand out that why they are popular

Engraved Cut Letters

An engraved cut letter can mean 2 things in this case we are talking about actual cut out flat letters with a engraving or designs actual machined into them and not a plaque where the letters are engraved out just to make that clear , these letters would not be very common we have made quite a few over the years with engraved designs in them but they are not as common as any of the other sign letter types we are talking about here you do see them more in peoples homes as personalised gifts ,

How are they done

Well again its pretty simple you take the letters you want as the outside shape then add the text or deigns into the letter in your CAD software once you are happy with how it looks you save the file ready to be machined , next you send the CAD file to get machined you set it up in the router software add the tools path for engraving the design you want once you machine the design you simply cut around the outside of the letter and you done as I said it pretty straight forward , they do look really good if you colour the letter face in one colour and highlight the design or engraving in a different colour just makes the engraving stand out

Channel Letter (built up )

Channel letters are letters that have returns on the side of the letter they are normally illuminated ( lit up ) with leds or neon as a light source there are 2 main kinds and 2 main materials used in their construction .

Acrylic Built up ( channel letter )

The first type is acrylic where the entire letter or just the face is lit up , these letters are made by taken acrylic flat cut letters and building up a return on the back side of the letter face, this return is then glued to the back of letter face to create the return around the letter , there is a lot of work in doing this as the whole process is hand done by skilled craftsman,the main problem with these is the time it takes in production as any curves in the letter requires the craftsman to heat ,form and cool that part of the return to that curve if not done right it makes a mess of the letter this is a very skilled and very time consuming part of their construction with many pitfalls and should only be done by skilled people who know what they are doing. Once the letters have their returns added you need a light source as I said leds are the choice now days so to keep things short you place your leds on the back plate the same size and shape of the inside of the letter return , this plate holds your leds and is mounted to the inside of the return so it not seen this will then illuminated the letter

Metal built up

Metal letters are typically made from aluminium and stainless steel pretty much the same thing as acrylic letters except for a couple of things with it being metal the letter itself does not illuminate unless it has an acrylic face which is known as a channel rim letter ( metal sides and rim with acrylic face ) metal letters  are normally used for halo lit letters which means the light source comes out the back of the letters and shines against the wall given a halo around the letter and does not actually lighting the letter , these are very popular especially the stainless steel as they look expensive and should last a long time if made correct and with the correct stainless steel ( marine grade) , they are much quicker to make than the acrylic as you do not need to heat and form any of the curves you simply bend and weld the curves as you make them so there is nowhere near as much work in them and does not take as much skill to produce them unlike the acrylic versions but still a time consuming process and really nice when done . Again light source is leds now days and is held on a clear polycarbonate plate which Is mounted to the return .

3D Letters

When we say 3d letters here we mean letters basically cnc carved from a block of material, this opens a whole host of possibilities we can take any 3d design and make letters from it or we can take a stock letter and add any type of 3d design to it like flowers , etc anything you can think of we basically take the 3d design or letter and make a 3d model of the letter once we create a 3d mould of the funky letters we then cnc carve them out

Painted letters

Well painted letters is exactly what it says we just offer a spraying service for the letters , some people use us for this and some people do the spraying themselves the only thing with doing this yourself is you really need to do it right especially with foamex as this requires a couple of coats to seal the letters right, best done by the experts if not done right the letter edge can go black after time and does look very unprofessional  so if unsure let us do this for you

Check our blog on this for more information

Ok lets talk about the materials we typically use and discuss the pros and cons of each type of signage letters

Aluminium Composite

Aluminium composite is a one of the most commonly used materials in the signage sector as it comes in a large range of pre finished colours and has a number of brushed finished as seen here this is the stainless steel effect composite, the material is made up with 2 different materials a polyethylene core which is then bonded with a thin layer of aluminium on both sides, there are 3 main grades of this material flat application, fabrication grade and transport grade.
Flat application has a very thin layer on the plastic core typically .1-.2mm thick and normally does not have any aluminium on the back to save cost but this is only used for the cheapest applications where cost is the most important factor and in fairness it does the job ,
Fabrication grade can be folded, rolled, cut etc basically fabricated into any shape you need just don’t over bend or stress the material and this will cause the material to facture as it work hardens very quick basically that means it will break when you bend it back and forwards a number of types, this material has a typical .3mm aluminium skin on both sides and normally has a gloss finish on one side and a matt finish on the other
Traffic grade is the same as the fabrication grade except it has .5mm skin and is normally a lot dear
The aluminium composite material is generally 3mm thick but it does come in other limited thickness like 2mm and 5mm but it does not have the same range as the 3mm thick does so In general its always 3mm used in the signage trade

With composite you can easily machine the material on the CNC Router here at cutting edge designs we have been machining this material for the last 22 years so we know it inside and out, there is a certain way to machine this material to achieve the best edge finish we also use a specific tool type for this material as well to achieve the high quality edge finish we are known for, here is a list of pros and cons of this material type


• Pretty cheap to buy
• Great range of standard colours and effects
• Good range of sheet size from 8×4” to 2x4m
• Easy to machine on the CNC Router
• Lightweight
• Easy to clean


• Can mark pretty easy
• The material can peel as its made up from 2 different materials
• It’s easy to dent ( which can’t be fixed)
• It’s easy to create burn marks from using the wrong glues
• I can look cheap has a black core visible from the side
• Can easily break if the material is over worked via bending back and fourth

Acrylic letters

Another main material with in the sign trade is the acrylic letter , acylic has been around for a long time it well known and comes in a variety of colours, thickness and effects .
Acrylic is also known as Perspex but Perspex is a brand name same as the vacuum cleaner hoover , Acrylic we use it typically 3mm , 5mm 10mm and 20mm for general use signage letters this material is really good but it does have its problems like most materials for example its not the easiest of material to cut you really do need a CNC router or scroll saw to cut or shape this material you can cut it with a jigsaw ok if you have a steady enough hand and a good outline lets looks at the pros and cons of this material


• Vast range of colours
• Large range of thickness
• Large range of sheets size
• Great light transmission ( highly transparent )
• Uv resistant
• Great for moulding ,bending and cutting with the right equipment
• Makes great displays
• Much lighter than glass and much stronger
• Quite Hard to mark


• Pretty expensive (Much dear than glass)
• Hard to machine ( without the right equipment)
• Can break easily if hit hard
• Can be very sharp on the edges
• Can stain if wrong chemicals are used to clean it


Polycarbonate is very similar to acrylic except its does not shatter like acrylic it design for taken impacts by that I mean you can hit a piece of polycarbonate with a harder and it will not break or shatter unlike acrylic and glass that’s why it’s used in a lot in protective screens and ant vandal signage and machine guards , Polycarbonate does not come in a lot of colours mainly just white and clear it does come in a range of thickness with good sheets sizes too , this material is not overlay used in simple letters like acyclic is but it is used in channel letter faces or signs that’s need to be vandal proof it is used a fair bit in light boxes as and projection signs to .
Polycarbonate is pretty hard to cut even with a CNC Router you need to use the correct tooling with good feeds and speed , tooling needs to be very sharp with the correct tool profile as polycarbonate has a much lower melting point than acrylic so this means it can and does stick to the tool and gums up around the cutter like chewing gum thus given a very bad cut and its very hard to recut or fix this initial first cut in the material as its normally welded to the cut path this can also happens when using jigsaws and table saws to cut polycarbonate in general when cutting this material the better your tool sharpness is the better the finish will be, if unsure always test a scrap section of the sheet to make sure you are getting a good cut result before doing your main components , if you need any more advice or need some polycarbonate cut give cutting edge designs a call when machine this material all the time


• Very strong does not shatter
• Comes in good range of thickness and sheet sizes
• Quite cost effective for what it does
• You can get in it various finished like mirror , bronze etc
• Brilliant for making machine and protection guards
• Great light transmission ( highly transparent )
• Uv resistant
• Good heat resistances – used a lot for neon signs backing


• Not many colours in it
• Hard to cut and fabricate
• Easy to mark / scratch the surface
• Not easy to clean wrong chemicals will make it go Smokey
• Not environmentally friendly due to its manufacture and disposal
• Can be expensive to buy


Natural wood is a lovely material to use for signage letters although this material is more suited for internal use, some people do use it outside but it needs to be looked after and treated with oil or vanish every year or so to stop it from rotting especially with our weather and quite frankly not many shop owners would be willing to be that so real wood for external use is not the best of an idea useless you seal and spray it heavily , on the other hand there is some lovely hardwoods out there so it does stand out from the crowd in terms of signage letters not many people would have real wood lettering .
Cut real wood is pretty simply on a cnc router just make sure you have the correct tooling and cut the wood in the right direction to achieve a good edge finish , a compression spiral tool is advisable as this stops or reduces the top and bottom surfaces of the material from splintering which is very common especially In long gain woods like Oak


• Lovely looking natural material
• Environmentally friendly
• Can be cheap
• Loads of different and unique woods to choose from
• Easy to machine and fabricate


• Needs to be looked after
• Can be expensive
• Material can break easy enough
• Requires expensive machinery to manufacture

Mdf (exterior Grade)

Mdf is a much over looked material when it comes to signage letters many sign makers don’t realize how good a material it actual is when used and treated the right way , the exterior grade Mdf is about half the price of the standard Foamex material which is one of the main material used for signage letters , the main thing about the MDF is it does not harder via heating like foamex does , typically example of this is if you were to create a set of 19mm Foamex letters for a shop front and the same set of letters in Exterior MDF spray both sets and leave for 6 months in the weather especially sunlight if you hit the Foamex it would shatter pretty easily as we have seen this a lot over the years where as the MDF will not break in fact you can hit pretty hard it and it will not break or bent which makes it a brilliant choice for signage letter , I am personally surprised a lot more sign people don’t use this material I think they are not educated enough in the material as normally MDF would not work outside as its not made with the correct material binder ( glue) but the exterior and tricoya grades are very good indeed as they use a completely different chemistry to produce the mdf basically they use water proof glues to bind the material together

Mdf exterior grade is easy to cut on a cnc router , jigsaw or table saw the only thing is it does eat up your tooling as the material is hard and dense so it does blunt your tooling quickly , on the cnc router we typically machine with a PCD diamond tool this gives a good edge finish and it prolongs the sharpness of the cnc tools there are draw backs with diamond tooling they are expensive can chip very easily do not drop them and they normally come in large diameters 10mm and above which does not suit really for cutting small letters but great for larger letters and panelling .


• Pretty cheap
• Good range of thickness
• Good range of sheet size
• Recyclable
• Easy to machine and fabricate
• Hard and durable
• Does not break
• Easy to paint
• Good smooth surfaces consistent layer structure
• Great outdoors if treated right


• Its MDF ( people think it’s a bad material for outside)
• No range of colours
• Needs sealed and sprayed for signage
• Its not environmentally friendly due to its manufacture
• Its quite heavy
• You need to use correct fixings

MDF (Tricoya)

Tricoya MDF is just a much better grade of Exterior mdf its basically water proof I mean you could make a bath tub out of this material and not have it swell, I remember when it came out a few years ago I was asked to test the material so we machine it in various ways and if different shapes I then took a few samples and left them in a bucket of water fully submerged to see if they would swell up as the supplier said they would not swell , I left them in a bucket of water for 3 months and after 3 months I measured their thickness with a set vernier calipers and it hadn’t move one bit not even .2mm of a millimetre which has to be said was very impressive considering normally mdf would swell up like a balloon in minutes under water ,this material is absolutely brilliant I have to say its that good the manufactures gives a 50 year outdoor warranty on the stuff nobody offers that ,the only problem is it’s hard to cut it will blunt your tools very easily plus you need to paint it as it only comes as Brown Mdf
Cutting this material a CNC router is a must however you can jigsaw cut the material as well just use the correct blade , when CNC cutting we recommend diamond tooling as it will last much longer than carbide tooling .


• Very durable
• Good range of thickness and sheet size
• 50 year warranty
• Easy to paint
• Will not break , crack , swell
• Uv resistance
• Very low maintenance


• Its quite dear to buy
• Not many suppliers sell it
• Hard to cut
• Not well known

Foamex ( pvc)

Foamex is made from PVC and is one of the most popular materials for lettering with in the sign industry , with a large of colours and sizes it is used a lot not just for letters but also for panels which can also be direct printed its good for that purpose but just for lettering personally I don’t think it’s a great material as it pretty soft, easy to mark and does not recycle well , so I am not sure why people like it so much maybe they have a bad education on their material selection or just a force of habit whatever the case its widely used by everyone ,Foamex is made from pvc foam
Foamex is very easy to machine especially with a cnc router , jigsaw, table saw & scroll saw basically anything sharp will cut this stuff with not much problem,
• Large range of colours
• Large range of sheet size and thickness
• Readily available
• Easy to cut , fabricate glue etc
• Large applications base
• Uv resistance
• Outdoor applications
• Great for direct printing
• Water proof
• Its very soft
• Very easy to mark or dent
• Pretty easy to break
• It will UV harden under direct sun light
• Quite expensive for what it is
• Not environmentally friendly ( does not recycle well )
• Real needs coating for outside ( will go black on edges after time )

HPL (High pressure laminate )

Not many people know or use HPL as it more used for engraving but this material is very durable and last a long time plus it comes in a large range of colours, Hpl stands for high pressure laminate which means it’s a sandwich type material i.e typically 3 layers of material sandwich together with the inside material being a different colour , as I said it is used a lot for engraving plaques where the face colour needs to be different from the letter colour this is the material main purpose but it also make great letters as it a very hard material and does not require any finish work simple cut and stick outside,
HPL is quite a hard material to cut you really need a cnc router to get the best quality cut you can use a jigsaw to cut this but you may find the material edge chipping due to vibration from the blade


• Very hard wearing
• Great range of colours and finishes
• Uv resistance
• Good applications base
• Can be applied to other materials


• Can be expensive
• Availability may be an issue
• Hard to cut and fabricate
• Not environmentally friendly


Aluminium is used a lot in the sign trade this is a good material as it will last for years just like stainless steel , typically aluminium is used more for panels than letters but it makes really strong letters only problem is the aluminium needs to be sprayed or powder coated to achieve a colour finish . Aluminium is also used a lot in channel letters as its strong and light plus it easy to powder coat
Aluminium is hard enough to cut the approach to machine this material is either with a cnc router or a high powered laser but you can also cut it pretty well with a jigsaw and a good metal blade just depends on the material thickness really, if cnc routering you suggest you use a single flute tool with coolant to keep the cutting temperature down as aluminium is soft and it likes to stick or weld to the tooling if not done right ,


• Strong fairly lightweight
• Very durable will last a long time outside
• Good range of sheet size and thickness
• Good application range
• Pretty easy to paint or powder coat
• Standard sheet sizes are normally quite cheap
• Easily sourced
• Easy to bend and fabricate


• Requires expensive machinery to cut right
• Needs sprayed or powder coated for finish
• Can be heavy when large panels are needed

CNC Letters and Totem sign

CNC letters and totem sign.

We were asked by a local sign company to help manufacture the totem sign plus a number of Aluminium composite letters .

The process for the external letters

Quite a simple one we were supplied A CAD File ( Computer Aided Design ) from the sign company we checked over the file to make sure it was ok for CNC machining once we checked the file we had to work out and organise the material for the letters this was done by nesting all the same colours of letters into separate 10×5 sheets to get the best yield once the nesting was done we saved the main CAD file and exported it to A.I so we could program the tool paths ( the code that tells the CNC Router what to do ) the letters here in this case we doubled up with a white background and a blue face both made from Aluminium composite material
Aluminium composite ( a material with a plastic core sandwiched with thin aluminium skin typical .3mm thick each side comes in various pre painted colours very common in the sign trade as it pretty cheap easy to machine and has various finishes )

CNC Time

Now that we have the CAD file ready for machining we import this file into our CAM software so we can start to programing the CNC machines, We use Artcam for our CNC routers as it’s a very good and a powerful software package ,

How do you Create tool paths for cutting these letters ( what’s the process )

First of you need to set the model size in the Artcam software this is typically the size of the material you are going to cutting or it can be the size of your CNC machine bed, for this it is just the material size we used 10×5 sheets which is 3 x 1.5m
Once you enter the material size you import your file after the file is uploaded make sure you maximize your material by nesting the letters nothing worse than wasting material , now your letters are organised for best yield from the material you need to set their position within the sheet and within cnc router bed his is done by setting your datum points ( a point where the cnc reads all the measurements from ) you normally have 2 datums one on the software and one on the CNC machine bed , with us we set the datums from the bottom right corner of the sheet and the same on the CNC router ,

Now we have the letters nested ,set in the correct position for machining the next stage is to apply the tool paths this is very simply , you simply select what you want to cut , click the profile tab within this drop down menu you have various commands like cut position – inside line or outside line , cut direction- clock wise anti clock wise , speed of cut , spindle Rpm, lead ins etc , you simply select what commands you need and then apply them to your selection , after you create this command this is known as your tool path .

You have your tool path created now so next thing to do is send that code to the CNC router for cutting this is a simply process all you do in our system is save the tool path into a specific folder in the machine spooler. once the tool path is saved you are finally ready to start cutting the sheet , go to the CNC router controls on the machine, load your material onto the machine bed secure the material via the vacuum system make sure the hold down is good so material does not move when being cut , select your program check the cutting tool is sharp and not chipped if all of this is fine hit start and let the CNC router cut away. After the CNC Router is finished turn of the vacuum hold down and dust extractor then remove the cut letters, clean down the machine bed if needed then repeat the process for the next sheet.
Thats the basic of CNC cut letters now with this job we needed to glue the 2 sets of letters together again a pretty simply process just sand down the back layer so the glue has something to stick to , glue and press the letters together allow to cure and they are ready,

Sign Fixtures

For the letters fixtures we simply used large sign locators again glued onto the back of the backing letter , the local sign company who these letters where for want to do their own layout so that saved us a bit of time not having the do the paper layouts .

The Totem and Light boxes

We also had to clad a large steel frame with white and blue folded composite panels the overall size was 10m in height with 4 sides and 2 inlayed light boxes .

Process for this

We were given the outside measurements of the existing steel frame all we had to do here was create a number of folded panel to go over the steel work pretty simply we made up the panel design in composer and transferred this to the CNC router for cutting and folding all the panels where the same size just in various colours white and blue , we machined each panel and fabricated it so it would fit onto the steel work the local sign company applied the final graphics and done the fitting , really quite a simply totem wrap

The light boxes

The light boxes where just not as straight forward the main problem was we had to add a halo light that would go around the perimeter of each light box , each light box was inlayed with white acrylic and covered in yellow trans vinyl so they would illuminate
We made the folded fascia box and inlayed them with 5mm opal acrylic we also made a back box to hold the electrics which fitted nice and neatly inside the front box after some discussion with the local sign firm we thought it best to make a frame to space these folded panels of the main totem this also gave us room to add leds onto the back of the back box this in turn gave us a really nice halo around the entire light box just a quick and simple way of creating this halo light any other way was just tricky anyway turned out great and it was a nice job to do

CNC Machined Acrylic clocks

Acrylic clocks

We designed a range of acrylic clocks for an online shop with the sole purpose of them being customized either with a printed image or engraved text , each clock was designed to specific measurements via composer ( a vector drawing program) once we created the basic outline of the clock we added in a circle for the clock mechanism which would be recessed out to house the mechanism, after each design was finished and approved it was saved to the customers folder and exported as an A.I file (Adobe Illustrator ) for the CNC work .

CNC Routering of the clock blanks

The next step was to start the CNC Router work, We use Artcam for our Cam program (Computer Aided Manufacture) basically this is the software that’s drives the CNC machines, in this program you tell the CNC Router what you want it to do this is called a tool path, once you create your tool paths you download this code to the CNC router it will then read your code and then go and cut what you have told it to do that is the basics of the CAM prograM

Set up

We took a block a of 20mm clear acrylic measured its size and entered this into the CAM software as our material size, we then placed this material stock on the cnc router and checked the work hold down ( how well it was held on the cnc machine ) this is majorly important in cnc routering as the better the hold down the better machine finish you can achieve, if the material is not held down enough it can move under machining destroying the material your tools and your customers components this is something a lot of other suppliers over look but this makes a massive different in component quality so double check hold down use screws or nails if vacuum pressure is not enough on the router to secure the material

Next step was to nest the correct amount of clock blanks ( nesting means moving and rotating components until we get the most amount or best yield out of that particular piece of material ) once all the blanks where nested it’s time to add your tool paths we started of by machining the recess ( pocket of material not cut right through) we cut it down 15mm from the surface leaving 5mm on the back we checked mechanism for fitting making sure it was a good push fit once we were happy with the fitment of the mechanism we machined all the other recesses in one operation after the mechanism recess was complete it was time to machine the outline of each clock , we do this with a profile cut command ( profile command cuts to the outside or inside of the vector line) as the material is 20mm thick and made from solid acrylic its best to cut it twice once for a roughing pass removing most of the material and then a final polishing cut which is a final skim around the component to give it a really nice smooth and super clean finish , we change tools for the polishing cut to get the highest quality of edge finish , the better the edge finish of the cnc router the less time will be need in the final polishing stage. How all the banks have been cut they are measured and inspected for quality control once we are happy with them they go onto the final polishing stage.

Polishing Acrylic

The polishing of the acrylic clocks can be done in 4 methods

  • Flame polishing
  • Vapour polishing
  • Buffing
  • Diamond polishing

We use the flame polishing method here for these clocks as the edge we achieve of the cnc router is absolutely excellent its about 75% optically clear so it takes very little to get them perfectly clear plus this method is cheap and works well for thick acrylic and odd shapes so flame polishing works very well in this situation

After the clocks have been polished they are checked again for quality once we are happy with everything we install the mechanism and wrap them up for delivery to the customer.

Birch Plywood Christmas Trees







Birch Plywood Christmas Trees : Job spec

We where asked to produce a number of birch plywood Christmas trees for a event company , the tress we made in 2 sizes one 8 ft high and one 4 ft high . All the trees we to be produced in high quality 18mm birch plywood which we sourced and supplied for the customer , the trees had to be a flat pack and very easy to assembly as they where sent straight to shops for the shop owners to assembly themselves so they need to be simple to instal

Birch Plywood Christmas Trees : Process / set up

The customer sent us the tree outline in an abode illustrator file via email we opened the file and checked the artwork to make sure it was all ok and to scale once we done this we could start to set it up for cnc machining



Birch Plywood Christmas Trees : CNC Routering

Once we had the file set up for the CNC Router we then need to set up the actual machine with the correct tooling and material , with this being birch plywood we need to use special tooling to stop it tearing the top and bottom surfaces while retaining a smooth edge  , you can use a compression spiral for this but we find they break pretty easily and are too expensive for what they are plus they do not give the best edge finish to the plywood due to the vibration with in the tooling profile so we don`t really use them on birch plywood we use a combination of different tools to get the absolute best finish possible on all the 3 edges top , core and bottom this takes longer to cut but leaves a super smooth finish on all the edges no need for sanding after machining this is where the quality of cut speaks for itself and years of experience cutting birch plywood really shows in the final component .


Birch Plywood Christmas Trees : CNC Routering test fitting

With the trees being a flat pack they needed to have some way of fitting together so we made some internal locking parts which would hold all the 4 sides of the tree , with these parts holding the tree together we had to make sure the fit was perfect not to loose or not to tight so we made some test pieces just to check fit we kept a close eye on this as the material thickness of the birch plywood can change from sheet to sheet and this can cause the fit to be either to tight or to loose so a close eye on this was essential


Once all the cnc work was done we simply put the trees on a pallet and the customer come down and collected them , a simply straight forward birch plywood job something we do all the time


3d letters – Spraying Signage letters















I thought i would write this blog to highlight the amount of work that goes into spraying typical 3d letters used for signage , we have found over the years that people simply do not understand the amount of time and labour that goes into making sprayed sign letters so i decided to make to a blog on the process for a set of typical letters

3d letters : Stage 1. file sent to us

As we our a trade supplier to the sign industry the sign company will send us the file they need machined typically this will be A.I of PDF file format, once we receive the file from the sign company we check it for quality and make sure its to scale once we are happy with the artwork we save the file and send it to one of our  CNC Routers for machining .

3d letters : Stage 2. CNC Routering the letters

we set the CNC router up with the correct material and correct tooling and machine out the letters paying very close attention to the edge finish of the letters especially with 19mm or 24mm ,we use special tools and a special cut path to get a super fine edge finish the better the edge finish on the letter the less work the sprayer has later on so this is very important and something a lot of other suppliers do not do. With this particular job some of the letters had to be 38mm thick so we had to stick two sets of letters together this might sound easy and a lot of people do over look now important this part is simply gluing the letters together is not good enough it really needs to be screwed , glued lined and stapled that is what we do it takes extra time and expense but it is the professional way for securing two letter faces this will stop the faces from separating and breaking the nice side wall paint job if you want a professionally finish on your 3d letters this is the only way to do it correctly



3d letters : Stage 3. set for spraying.

After the letters have been cnc machined and in this case pinned and glued together the next operation is to rough the surface and edge of the letters very lighly with 400 grade sandpaper or scotch pad this gives the primer something to stick to , once this has been done they are transferred to the spray booth and set up for first coat primer , we stick them to rails so they dont move when spraying, we then set up the spray gun with the correct jet nozzle and make sure everything is working correctly including the all the safety equipment we are then ready for spraying


3d letters : Stage 4. Primer coatings

The primer coatings are very important as its the base for the main colour coat it also helps seals the whole letter keeping out moisture, water and bacteria so its essential to get right and a must for a professional finish that will last year after year , we start with a good coat of primer we allow the primer to dry normally a couple of hours in the heated sprayed booth then the fun begins all the letters faces and sides need to be sanded down this removes any fur from the face and sides and leaves a nice smooth finish already keyed for the next coat we normally do 2-3 coats of primer sanded after each coat this is what gives you the real professional finish but its very time consuming and a labour intensive process,after the primer process is finished we are now ready for the colour top coat.



3d letters :stage 5 Colour coat

After the final primer coat is finished and sanded we mix up the correct colour of paint which the customer will supply a reference for , this is normally a Pantone or Ral colour code ,we match the codes make the paint up and then spray the 3d letters , normally 2 coats of the colour top coat  does the job well , once the top coat is dry we can add extra layers of lacquer this can add extra shine or we can add a matt finish if the customer requires this , once the letters are fully cured and dry we take them back into the workshop and install locators or other fittings the customer has requested we can supply templates either in paper or hard plastic strip templates this leaves it very easy for the sign installer to install the letters on site


3d letters : Stage 6  Inspection and delivery

Once the 3d letters are finished and fittings applied we check them  for any defects before we send them to packaging , once all letters are finished and inspected we box and ship the letters direct to the sign company ready for installation





Guinness Brewery Built up Letters















We were asked to manufacture the new signage letters for the Guinness brewery in central Dublin,  the letters where approx 2 meters high and the harp logo was about 3 meters in height,

The letter spec

All the letters and logo had to have face illumination as well as a halo back light with the letters being so big this meant we had to use two set of leds one for the face illumination and one set for the halo light , the face of the letters had to be 5mm opal acrylic , the side return was powder coated aluminium the central structural core plate was modified 10mm foam with a rear 3mm opal diffuser

The Build .

The building of the these letters took some time due to the spec and overall size we had to make sure they would be strong enough not to break or fall of the wall , with the letters being so big and heavy  we needed to add a lot of internal support to the letters


Once we received the final drawings from the sign company we checked the vector file to ensure they where to scale and the outlines where smooth and ready for machining , before we could start the machining process we need to design and mark the side returns , internal support areas and rear fixing points, as we needed to have a central core to illuminate the face and the rear halo we used this as the main weight bearing area of the sign and was essentially the main fixing point of the letters so it needed to be design right , once we had everything designed in  and checked we could start the machining process








We started with the faces we used 5mm opal and machined them on our large 3 x 2 meter CNC router once all the faces had been cut we move onto the side returns , the returns where cut from pre-powder coated sheet which the sign company  provided , we machined the returns to 250mm height we recessed areas in them for the central core and for internal weight bearing brackets, once we finished machining the side returns we started to build up the letters after we joined all the faces to the returns we added all the internal support brackets to hold the central core , we then machined the central core from 10mm foamex testing fitting them as we went along we needed a good tight fit as this would spread the weight around the letter and help take the pressure of the internal brackets , after the core was fitted and fully secured to the side return we added the main wall fixing which where m12 threaded bars, the last job we had to do was cut and fit the diffusers for the halo light this is just to stop any spotting of the leds we used 3mm opal for this which sat just inside the return, the sign company fitted there own leds for this job , just like to say thanks to Ascot signs for this job it was a nice project to work on

Cutting edge designs professional cnc routering and sign manufacture
Email [email protected]



Acrylic Fabrication for Ferrari

We were asked to produce a number of bespoke acrylic fabricated sections for the new Ferrari garage in Belfast in conjunction with a local sign firm , these acrylic components where to be housed in the display walls around the showroom to show of various components of the cars like alloy wheels steering wheels , colour swatches etc as well as general lighting , as it was for the new Ferrari garage in belfast quality of product was the single most important factor only the highest craftsmanship would be excepted








We had quite a few issues to solve which made this project very complex, first of all the components had to be evenly illuminated with no shadows on the acrylic ,they had to have no visual fixings like screws or glue lines , Most of the components need to be moulded to fit the actual curved walls , the panels needed to have access so they could replace any bunt out lights in the future.

The main straight acrylic sections we straight forward to manufacture we simple used a special 5mm white acrylic with a satin finish in total we made about 30 meters of straight section , the main problem with this was how do we mount the acrylic to the wall without screws and shadows lines but also leave it with access to the internal light source , so we made some polished acrylic mounting rails which we fusion glued the back of the acrylic this created very littler to no shadow line on the front of the acrylic,  we then embedded some small but power full magnets to these rails , this gave us the fixing we needed without any visible screw or any use of glue so they worked out perfect for the long straight sections in the showroom








The curved sections where quite complex in the fact that each one had to be manufactured to an exact template of the wall , we were given the templates via the construction company who was building the curved walls ,once we received these templates we had to make a master mould or a plug so we could mould the acrylic around to give the final shape and size , the process for this is complex and time consuming and you need to factor in a number of things in making the mould , once the moulds were ready it was time to heat and form the acrylic around them








this process is hot and dangerous and you need the right equipment and experience to do this correctly  to much heat the part could be ruined not enough heat a the part will not form to its final shape , it’s a bit of a black art to get this right and something that only comes with experience lucky at cutting edge designs we have 20 years in dealing with acrylic and making CNC and fabricated acrylic components, We used are large melamine heated press to heat the acrylic to the correct temperature once the acrylic is heated and ready it was then formed over the mould and clamped into position and left to set , after the component was cooled it was removed from the mould we then need to add a back to these components and an outer acrylic rim for fixing to the wall itself these components we very difficult to manufacture but worked out great once done, i would just like to thank ascot signs and the ferrari dealership for this complex but exciting work








Cutting Edge Designs manufacture a wide range of bespoke acrylic components and as well as a range of CNC acrylic components all made to your exact requirements, So if you require any acrylic fabrication or cnc routering please contact us details below

Cutting edge designs
Email [email protected]

Candy Cart Signs

We had to produce a number of these double sided signs for a local sign firm , the signs are fitted to a candy display which is placed into a number of shopping centers around the country .

The sign

The sign has a double face with a 70mm built up return , the sign is located onto a 3” oval stainless steel pole which is then fixed to the sweet display.
How to make this.

First of all we machined a front and a back face for the sign on one of our cnc routers the faces are machined in 6mm clear acrylic , we machined in a small recess around the inside of the both faces to help locate the signs build up , once the faces are cnc machined and the edges polished we then proceed to adding the graphics , as the graphics are on the inside of the panels so it cannot be vandalized we need to print them in reverse on clear vinyl so they stick to the acrylic once applied the print is back up in white vinyl ,

Once the print is adding to both faces we can start the building of the edge return , we use a pre coated white aluminium sheet which we cnc router to the correct size and width as to fit the perimeter exactly if this is out even ½ a millimeter it will not fit the machined recess so it very important ,we normally machine 12 strips per 8×4 sheet anyway once these are cut we start to build the edge , we cold form or hand form the edge around the profile and stick it into place as we go alone very important to keep the return 90 degrees to the bottom face if not it will not fit into the other recess on the opposite face, once we have the return built and glued into place we add the center block into the sign , the center block is just a basic holder for the stainless steel pole ,

we cnc machine a number of these blocks one for each sign , after we measure and make sure the block is in the correct position we secure it to the sign we normally use a very high quality double side tape as glue can wrinkle the printed image.

How the sign has the main return added to one face and the centre holding block in position it now time to close the sign in by adding the second face , this is the tricky bit you need to dry fit the sign first i.e don’t add any glue until it fits , we place the opposite side on top of the return a bend squeeze or alter the return until it fits into the recess on the other face once it is dry fitting ok we simple add a small amount of glue and then press the face onto the return let it sit for an hour a wipe of any over-spill leave the sign to cure overnight and that’s it job done

Top tips

When cnc routering acrylic use a good sharp upwards single flute spiral tool a good operator should be fit to get a near polished edge of a cnc router with just 2 machine passes , one for roughing one for polishing .Speed and direction are very important also pay attention to your hold down method the more pressure the work piece has holding it down the better a cnc router will machine it ,cnc machines don’t like vibration this can cause the tool to vibrate which in turn leads to a poor surface and edge finish, another thing don’t be afraid to speed up the tool to many people slow down their routers as they think they will get a better finish but what I have found from over 20 years of cnc machining this is the opposite of what normally happens.
Another tip when cold forming aluminium do not over stress or over bend the aluminium as it is very hard to get it back flat again you are better under bending it always easier to bend it a bit more than trying to bend it back , take your time and bend it slowly as you go along it will stop you getting kinks in the aluminium which are very hard to get out

Birch Plywood candle holders

We were asked to machine a series of candle handles for a product designer which were in the shape of letters , this project was quite tricky as we had to use a couple of different machining techniques to get the final product right , we started with a good quality birch plywood and machined a number of letters at the clients specifications we then glued together a couple of layers to give the correct thickness , once the letters where stuck we then had to machine the hole for the candle itself we had 3 different candle sizes , once we set up a jig for each size hole and its was in the correct position it was just a case of machining each one