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We’re Going to the Dogs!

November 11, 2014


Just a quick update that we’re working these days on the new Cookeville-Putnam County Animal Shelter development. The P.E.T. Care Campus is pretty amazing, considering what the old shelter is like. Personally, I can’t go to the old shelter because I’d bring home every animal in the place. My hope is that this amazing new facility will take the cause of rescuing pets to a whole new level, and allow folks like me to feel great about volunteering & visiting. The only problem is that it’s so nice that the lost pets may just want to stay!
Keep an eye out for us around the new campus as we put up custom wood grain signage, etched glass vinyl, a custom creation for the donor wall, and who knows what else!


Find out more about them here:


We’re Saving Trees Over Here!

October 6, 2014

Just a quick look at how we make faux wood grain on the CNC mill.  At Acme we are not big fans of putting wood outside for any extended length of time. Don’t get me wrong, we love wood. Wood just doesn’t last as long as we’d like it to, for say signage. Several of our clients have requested a ‘wood look’, so here’s what we delivered. The traditional way to achieve this look has always been sandblasting, but you know how we feel about traditional.

We think it looks pretty darn good, and we might have saved a few trees in the process, who knows?

Black sheet PVC milled with a wood grain background pattern

Black sheet PVC milled with a wood grain background pattern

We start with our custom faux wood grain CNC file.

We start with our custom faux wood grain CNC file,

Cut the wood grain on CNC, allowing for letter placement

then cut the wood grain on CNC, allowing for letter placement.


The final result is a long-lasting faux wood grain effect.

The final result is a long-lasting faux wood grain effect.

Outdoor Experience wood grain sign

Outdoor Experience wood grain sign

From ShopBot via Popular Mechanics: Can You CNC an Eames Chair?

August 21, 2014

Of course you can, but do you want to?    Hmmm.

Screen-shot-2014-08-21-at-11.10.05-AM Screen-shot-2014-08-21-at-3.14.03-PM-300x300

From Dwell: Metal screen room divider

June 30, 2014

I am loving this bathroom door in Dwell. What a great way to divide a room without adding the bulk of doors. Now that we have a new plasma CNC rig, maybe something like this can be our next project.


Now That’s Some Heavyweight Marketing

June 5, 2014

OK, so here’s this week’s Acme challenge, as presented to us by our dear friends at Huber Engineered Woods:

Make this:


  from this:Advantech-subflooring_HERO

So after some head-scratching, here’s how it went. Bob designed it and made the parts on the CNC mill & table saw.AdvanTech CNC mill parts

All ten turned out pretty awesome. Huber will be handing them out to their AdvanTech sales team as a marketing tool.    Heavy, right?


Huber AdvanTech dumb bells

Huber AdvanTech 10 marketing dumb bells

It’s All Fun & Games…

May 27, 2014

Acme Coliseum Gaming Pub mural

Before & After: The Coliseum Gaming Pub just opened in Cookeville, TN to rave reviews.  We love being involved with the creation of a new business’ image and space, from brand identity to logos to paint colors. We also gave the former roller rink building quite a facelift including a custom mural, steel awning, and some sweet signage!Wheeler's Roller Rink - before

awning.signSo we were contacted by a local fellow here in Cookeville that he was in the process of opening a restaurant / bar /arcade in town (cool concept, huh?)…and did we know anything about owning a restaurant? For those that don’t know us, we did indeed have a little place in Asheville for a bit, so yes, we know about restaurants. He had set his sights on a space that had once been the Wheeler’s Roller Rink, somewhat of an icon around here, I’m told. That said, it’s a BIG building.  A big, dark building at the time.  The interior just needed polishing, and we’re looking forward to creating some custom graphics for a series of light boxes that we’ll be installing (think amazing panels from vintage games & comics). Most of all, we wanted to do something to spruce up the outside of that big old building, and catch the eye of gamers, so we decided to paint it alien green, and adorn it with a custom mural to show off what they have to offer inside…video games, food, ping pong, you get the idea.  Would you believe that we stenciled the images onto the building using an old school overhead projector?  You should have seen us out in the parking lot in the middle of the night.  We met some interesting folks & had a great time!

Best of luck to the Coliseum crew…GAME ON!



Godzilla ping pong! eight ball.fighters

Veterans Barber Shop Sign

March 6, 2014
Veterans Barber Shop sign

Veterans Barber Shop sign

Just a quick post to crow about this cool sign we just hung. The Veterans Barbershop in Cookeville, TN is moving to a larger spot next door and they wanted to go all out in the new space. Coolest thing is they are taking over the old Greyhound Station, so there’s a lot of history there including a vintage phone booth. We wanted to make a sign that is in keeping with the vintage vibe.

So it goes a little something like this…

Veterans Barber Shop sign

Veterans Barber Shop sign

On the surface it seems pretty simple…white letters on a colored background, but putting something like this together takes a lot more planning than you’d think.  I won’t bore you with the details, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes here to make this magic happen. There are 3 background panels…silver, red, & blue, white PVC letters and a barber pole graphic.  All of those things have to be attached in specific order and be there for the long haul come hell or high water. It can be a tall order, but Bob’s formula works every time.  He basically has the whole sign put together in his head before he even turns the CNC mill on.  You have to with a dimensional piece like this.

I won’t say that we don’t learn something new each time we make a piece like this, whether it’s a sign or a piece of art or furniture. The trick is to make it look effortless, even when it’s not.

Veterans sign

Just hangin’ out at Veterans Barber Shop. Photo shoot anyone?

Engineered Organic Wall Art… A One Year Journey

February 13, 2014

So two years ago about Art Prowl time, we met up with some folks who decided that they wanted an original piece of art made for their dining room.   They’d seen Bob’s wall art that Sweet Sallie’s Cafe had commissioned, and loved its vibe. By last year’s Art Prowl we’d finally perfected a design that was ready to be made.  It only took a year.  Pretty good, right?

Engineered Organic CNC milled wall sculpture

Aluminum & brass CNC milled wall sculpture

So what do you make for a mechanical engineer & a teacher who loves the outdoors?  aluminum & brass sculptureTurns out, you make an “Engineered Organic” sculpture.  Like I said, the design process continued over the period of a year until we hit the right idea for this couple.   We tried bubbles, we tried leaves, we even pitched a 3D face. The key ended up being a combination of mechanical and effervescent qualities.  The effervescence speaks to natural design while the linear mechanics keep it grounded to the engineered aesthetic.We also wanted to make sure that  the art would accent the fixtures already in the space, so we created the pieces in aluminum and brass.

aluminum & brass sculptureThe whole installation consists of 20 pieces.  Bob painstakingly designed them in a CAD program and spent hours engineering the pieces to fit within and on top of each other.  He carefully created each element on the CNC mill complete with mounting holes and connection points on the back.  The clients decided that they wanted the pieces installed directly onto their wall, rather that onto a background, and we agreed wholeheartedly.  It made so much more impact that way. Bob created a template on the mill and we used it to drill hundreds of mounting holes into the drywall (scarey!).  Next, Bob put in wall anchors and installed standoffs one…hole…at…a…time.  The entire install took about 4 hours.  You can see the light changing in the photos below as it got later in the day.  I took a million shots…we could make a complete animation!

Here’s the blow by blow of the installation—-

install template

The installation template…like a piece of Swiss cheese.

1st piece

Piece number 1… of twenty!

Midway thru the install

Midway thru the install

More installing...

More installing…

...and VIOLA!

…and VIOLA!

The wall art sits opposite a huge bay window that brings in so much sunlight.  This thing virtually GLOWS, and it’s just sublime in the evening, if I do say so myself.  Imagine eating breakfast staring at this crazy amazing pattern…what a great way to start the day. So personally, I think the moral of this story is that good things come to those who wait!

Engineered Organic wall art

Engineered Organic wall art

Repurposed to Party

January 1, 2014

So technically this is a story about a collaborative piece that we did with Jason Moore, our studio mate…together we are 4D Studio (dum da da dum!). Anyway, it’s so cool that I just wanted to share.  Jason and Bob put this really great bar cart together for a local architect in town, and it came out so SWEET!  It just goes to show how much you can do with a little elbow grease and an old dirty salvaged pushcart.

vintage industrial bar cart

Vintage Industrial bar cart recycled from old factory bin

Jason had this piece around the shop.  I guess he’d gotten it at an auction at some old factory.  To me that makes it even better, to be local AND recycled.  Our client was interested in having us make a piece of furniture for his new bachelor pad.  He loved the lines of the old cart.  We knew that we could change it up to be a functional piece that really makes a statement.

factory cart

factory cart before

Here’s what it looked like before…nasty.  As you can see, it didn’t have doors or even an open side, and no top.  Man, it was dirty and had tons of old grease on the wheels. That cart must have had a good life in that old factory. Somebody kept those wheels seriously rolling.  It would be cool to know more about what was in the old boy back in the day. But I digress.

The boys used a wire wheel to clean the dirt out of the wood, and man was that a cloud of dust.  After several tries with degreasers, Bob finally just took the wheels off of the bottom of the cart and actually took them to the car wash.


cutting the doors

Next came the doors, so they took out the 3 pieces of wood from the front, cut them down the middle, and Jason made the metal X bracing & hinges. Jason also made a handle for the end of the cart, and a shelf for the inside.

barn wood

Barn wood saves the day

By the way, the floor of the cart gave way midway through the project, (of course it did) so that got replaced with some old barn wood that we had around the shop.  It was a good match, and still local. Bob milled the barn wood smooth for the shelf and the bottom replacement.

The top of the bar came from I think an old high school science lab…remember those tall desks?  When Jason brought it in, it had a super thick coating of amber colored finish on the top, so Bob put it on the CNC mill and completely planed the top off of it. It turned out really pretty and we used that same technique on a couple of other pieces on the 4D Vintage Industrial Furniture line…which you should really check out, so get outta here and go do that.

Vintage Industrial Bar Cart

Vintage Industrial Bar Cart

Follow the spinning coffee pot

May 14, 2012

ImageOUR MISSION: Nix the old outdated sandwich board!

Our friends Lora Lee & Kevin over there at the Corner Coffeebar & Arthouse asked us to create a one-of-a-kind sidewalk sign for their new shop.  They wanted something that matched their vintage industrial decor, and they didn’t need the usual chalkboard that everyone and their dog has.  One thing about these guys is that they sit at the corner of the main square here in Cookeville, so they wanted the sign to be visible from MORE than 2 angles. Final issue, this corner is like a wind tunnel!

OUR SOLUTION: Think outside the box

So we stepped into another dimension with a faux-aged, triangular sign topped by a spinning coffee pot!  Whew.  We started on the CNC mill and cut the basic shapes…seems simple enough.  Then came paint, crackle finish, paint, asphaltium, sanding, paint mask, airbrushing, metal edging, paint, more CNC cutting, more paint, two bushings, one metal rod, then we wrapped it up with a sturdy set of casters. And by the way, we filled that baby with 50 lbs. of sand so that it won’t tip over…EVER.

After we delivered it, I sat and rocked, and watched the heads turn as fast as that little red coffee pot did!