Question before getting into all this...Possible?

So my wife does string art and I’m looking for a way to help semi-automate some of the manual processes she has me doing, which is pilot holes and nailing. I figured this machine might help.

Just for some context, I’ll layout this process.
First is a pattern (font, picture, design) she puts down on the wood, then she nails a nail every .5 inches (about 1/2 of nail sticking out) -------|----------|-----------|-------- something to this effect. Then she wraps thread around the nails and fills in the pattern/Font. What I want to do, at the very least, is to put a board on the machine, pick a design and have it drill a hole in specific spots. Basically “outline” the pattern in pilot holes. The next part, which I don’t know if its do-able, is to push a nail in to the wood (with or without pilot holes). Obviously this will be difficult because there is no way to load the nails which are 3/4" 18 Ga.
Any advice or ideas would be appreciated.

Certainly the drilling of the pilot holes is quite doable. The placing of the pins is also likely doable, but would require the talents and know-how from some of the more mechanically inclined denizens of the forums. I don’t think it would be impossible, but it would require a certain amount of either tinkering or out of the box thinking to get something working for nail placement. If nothing else, getting all those holes drilled would be a huge help…

Hello, welcome to the fun/mad house! Cool that you are together on this. If the holes are drilling with a suitable width, they wouldn’t need much force to be inserted. I think it’ll improve the workflow considerably even without the automated nailing!

Thanks for the welcoming. The drill bit I use today is 1/32 (I think) so its pretty small, but I agree about the workflow process being improved for sure!

Thanks for the reply.

Well hopefully someone has some good ideas :slight_smile:

I’m guessing the nails won’t have much load on them when the thread is wrapped around them? If the nails are always a set distance apart or multiples of it, would you be better off just drilling a grid on an entire board and inserting the nails when/where required for different patterns?

We did a bit of that at our house. Depending on how many you want to make, it may not be worth the hassle to use a machine to place the nails. We drilled out the boards on the cnc, then placed the nails by hand (snug but no need to hammer) then turned it over on the concrete, slid some spacers under the edges, put a heavy board on top that completely covered the nail board, then stood on it to drive the nails in.
Bonus points if you tell the wife she can’t do it because you need something heavy.

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How about just strapping a nail gun to the gantry? Only problem may be finding something that shoots 18ga that short… most pins that short are 22ga. Also a mailer would not have large heads, just finish heads if that works.

The only load is the tension of the thread. I like the grid idea but you would be able to see the holes in between the font/pattern, If I’m understanding what you mean.

You would, I misunderstood, I pictured the string being removed after being shaped around the nails. Been a long day.

Interesting! She has her work in several boutiques so I would like a way to create several designs over and over. I’ll definitely test out this process though!

All good!

I have a Ryobi nail gun so I’ll have to do some testing. She prefers nails with the head as it makes stringing a bit easier.

Only other suggestion along these lines would be a roofing nailer, but then the heads are probably too big.

I have this picture in my head of a pick and place machine that picks up a nail and places it with a pneumatic hammer. I’ll bet that a machine that takes nails from a bin and always puts one in the same spot to be picked up wouldn’t be too hard to build. Then you need a head on the CNC that can pick up the nail, and give it a thunk when it gets to the right X/Y coordinate. You might (Or might not) need to do a finish pass with a real hammer, to account for variations n the hardness of the wood.

The machine ends up a little specialized… but that’s ok.

The nail gun would be awesome. You would have to circumvent the safety mechanism though. I would be interested in testing what would happen if a nailer was shooting 1/2" nails 1/4" above the surface. I wonder how consistent it would be. And the heads are not the same as regular nails.

Just predrilling the holes would be easy, but you would need a pattern. It wouldn’t be too hard to make manually, but I don’t know anything that would take a line and make holes every 1/2". If you are doing 100, or even 20, then doing it manually makes sense. But if you wanted to take custom orders and do names or sports teams or corporate logos or something, then you would probably be better off doing it by hand.

I haven’t played with it but I think you can work up a pattern by using the ‘Tile’ function in Estlcam.

That just makes a grid. This is a different style.

DOH!, it dawns on me since we’re talking fonts, we’re talking about spacing holes along curved lines?

For most of the patterns we did even spacing wasn’t even desirable, much less necessary. It was more important to get holes into features like corners, midpoints, centers, etc.