As is the case with many of the projects on this site, I created the wooden star pattern to help out a friend. Some friends of his were making Christmas trees out of old pallets to sell in their vintage shop and needed stars to adorn the tops of the trees. Having already had some pretty good success cutting snowflakes out of 1/8" baltic birch plywood, this seemed like it should be pretty simple.
The star design really is pretty simple. But it still needed to be suitable for cutting on the CNC and have a pleasant shape. If you look at the dimensioned PDF drawings (yeah, I did go that far for a star), you'll see notes about radiusing the edges outward slightly. This bears a little bit of explanation.
The design really is just a basic star at its core. There are five outer points and five inner points all connected by straight lines. However, the straight lines and sharp corners were a little too stark and didn't allow for the router's round cutter.
To fix the straight lines I simply added a bit of a radius, arching outward from the center of the star. That gives it a slightly softer and more pleasant shape. As for the cutter radius, I added a mere sixteenth of an inch radius. I've been using a 1/16" diameter router bit for cutting snowflake shapes out of the same material so figured that would give a nice detail and provide plenty of clearance for the bit.
Other than that, the only other design consideration was size. The folks who were making the Christmas trees needed various sizes for their project so I sized them accordingly while keeping the same tight radius at all of the corners.
For your project the star pattern should be good for any material from paper to wood or even plastic. In fact, if you check out my Etsy shop you can get the STL files to run these on a 3D printer. For this project, however, I used 1/8" baltic birch plywood.
If you're not yet familiar with baltic (or Russian) birch plywood, I highly recommend you try it out. It typically comes in 5 foot square sheets. That sounds a little odd, but the size is optimized for european cabinet box sides. I have found it in 4x8 foot sheets as well, but the cost per square foot is much higher.
One of the great features of baltic birch plywood is that it has no voids so the edge can be sanded and finished nicely. The 1/8" seems very thin, but is plenty strong for even intricate details.
As mentioned earlier, these stars were cut on the CNC router using a 1/16" diameter router bit from Think & Tinker, LTD. That's a pretty small bit so I take four passes to make it all the way through the 1/8" plywood. I did figure out a little trick that helps create a super clean cut on the top and the bottom. For the first two passes I use a down spiral bit and for the final two passes I use an up spiral bit. I know that's not rocket science, but it has helped quite a bit.
Whether you make wood stars for pallet Christmas tree, or foil stars for an Independence Day craft on the 4th of July, I hope you enjoy this simple set of patterns. You can either grab the JPEG from above, or if you'd like a fully dimensioned set of drawings click here or the image to the left. As always, remember that you'll need the Adobe reader to view the file.
If you like the look of the stars and would like to purchase one or more already cut for you, then please have a look at what's available on my Etsy shop. The stars are great for Christmas ornaments and decorations, or even for the Fourth of July. They're available in all five sizes seen in the drawings, 3.5", 4.5", 5.5", 6.5", and 7.5".