Case Study: Commemorative Military Plaque


Jimmy Arnesen - Owner of CNC Sign Shop in Roanoke Rapids, NC and US Navy veteran wanted to do something special for the VA McGuire Medical Center in Richmond, to say thank you for the support he received from the hospital when his luck was down and also to honor his comrades.

Jimmy decided to put his CNC routing skills to good use and designed and carved a magnificent 4' diameter 3D plaque depicting the seal of the United States plus all of the US Military emblems.

After preparing and presenting his concept design to friends and fellow ShopBot forum members. Jimmy decided to expand the design to include engraved text for each of the armed forces emblems and to add a decorative 3D rope border.

The military emblems were all modeled by James Booth at Vector Art 3D and Jimmy used Aspire to place them into his design and add the required text and toolpaths.

Jimmy commented “Aspire’s 3D modeling and toolpath preview tools showed me exactly what the plaque would look like at all stages of the design and cutting processes.

This really helped give me the confidence that what I was seeing on the computer screen is what would be carved on my ShopBot CNC router”.

Jimmy enlisted the help of his friend Rick Boyce who very generously gave his time to paint and finish the plaque.

Giving a plaque to the VA sounds easy and straightforward, but being a government establishment meant Jimmy first had to get approval to do this.

So he wrote to the VA explaining what he would like to do and included photo’s of his proposed plaque. The VA decided this was an excellent idea and the project was quickly approved by the Chief of the Voluntary Service Janet S Longhorne.

Jimmy then set to work machining the plaque on his CNC router.

On 26th of May 2009 Jimmy, his wife and Rick the painter presented the plaque at the Medical Center and the ceremony was attended by many Veterans.

This truly amazing plaque will serve as a permanent reminder to all and can be seen in the reception hall at McGuire VAMC, Richmond,
VA 23249.

Jimmy wishes to thank everyone who helped with the project and he said "The most important tool was his friends and fellow forum members for their inspiration and design ideas that helped make the plaque such a great success".

The 3D plaque was routed on Jimmy's ShopBot CNC router from 48" x 48" x 1 1/2" thick foam board using the following tools.

1/4" end mill cutter with a 22 degree included angle V-bit to pocket out the top surface and engrave the details raised lettering, and this took around 4 hours to machine.

1/8" diameter rounded ball nose cutter to 3D machine the 3D POW MIA seal and military emblems that took 10 hours.

The recessed text inscriptions below each military emblem were engraved using a 60 degree included angle engraving cutter and this took around 30 minutes to machine.

Finally the raised 3D rope border was machined using a 1/4" ball nose cutter and took approximately 4 hours.

To see more of Jimmy's work visit his web site by clicking here >

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