Cutting out names in wood and acrylic

Just completed my x-carve build last month! I’m a calligrapher and I’m really interested in creating name cut out place cards (see photo attached). I’m looking for them to be about 2.5” tall. Does anyone have any experience cutting something like this out on wood or acrylic?

Sure, what specifically did you have in mind?

Hey Cheryl…

Welcome … you are definitely on the right track by asking for information on this forum.

But before you do a deeper dive with carving, I totally suggest you do some searching on the forum. Loads and loads of info are but a search away… just click on the magnifying glass on the top right…

Feel free to ask more questions when readied… oh, and try out Easel if you haven’t already. Its a great way to start out and get your feet wet…

Happy carvin’

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the xcarve is very suited for this, but a hi-wattage laser will do it faster. I’m only saying this bc the image you provided was cut on a laser.

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Good to know! Yes - my step dad owns a laser and he’s made some acrylic and wood cut outs for me. But I cannot afford a laser at this point (hopefully in the future). Was hoping to get some ideas as far as the best wood to use for this, best bit and feed rates, etc. I just didn’t want to waste a ton of wood or acrylic trying to figure it out on my own.

Hi, whether you’re milling wood, acrylic (always cast, my favorite) or any other material dust collection is the first thing I would recommend you sort out. Good dust collection is essential for most jobs and particularly acrylic to prevent spoil from accumulating and clogging up the mill end.

I don’t have much experience with hard wood but soft wood is easy to mill at almost any speed, though the finish is unlikely to be fine. For acrylic the trick is to move fast, with high RPMs and thin passes. I mill cast acrylic and speeds ranging from 2000 mm/m (78 ipm) to 2500 mm/m (98 ipm), with a depth of cut no greater than 0.25mm per pass (0.00984252 inches).

I have never had anything but good results, though I have tricked up my machine more than a little and always use good quality cast acrylic.

Another thing to consider is the mill end itself. I mostly rely on a 2 flute 3.175mm (1/8th inch) up-cut.

There’s quite a few more tips and tricks but I could be typing for a while, and the forums are packed with useful information. Nothing replaces experience though, so don’t be afraid to waste a few bits of material in learning the best methods for your setup. I threw loads of material in the bin and don’t regret any of it because with every failure I learned a valuable lesson.

This is very helpful! Thank you!

These are all 4 inches tall. @RobertCanning is correct though. Very fragile. I accidentally dropped one and it shattered.

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I’ll agree, baltic birch is the way to go. I mostly use the x-carve for things we sell, and 95%+ is stuff made from 1/8" or 1/4" baltic birch.

I’ve been doing a lot of this sort of thing lately using cedar 2x4’s. Since I am trying to keep the thickness of the 2x4, I use the CNC to start the carve the outline down to about .3 inches or whatever max depth is on my 1/16" bits. Then, I use the scroll saw to finish the cuts while I have the CNC start the next one. If I were to use thinner material, I would stack cut to save much time. I’ve stack cut four layers of 3/8" baltic birch using spiral blades and although the going is slow, it’s a great feeling to be done with four items at once! Also, the level of detail you can get with the super thin spiral blades in baltic birch is pretty amazing, even stack cutting.

Also, I do all the designing of these in Photoshop and just import the outlines into Easel.

My point is: don’t count out the tried and true scroll saw in combination with the CNC.

By the way, I started my scroll sawing on a cheap ($90) Harbor Freight variable speed and it worked great for a long time, but my investment ($450) in a fancy Dewalt has been well worth it.

Good luck.