MDF or Birch Plywood?

I’m working on a butterfly project for a grandaughter - I’m on try #2 and the issue I’m fighting is the thin lines between the cutouts. After try #1 I thickened the lines of the ones that didn’t survive but now I’m wondering if MDF might be better than the birch plywood I’ve been using. Which would be better for this design?



Forgot to clarify that I’m carving out the white space to do an epoxy fill for backlighting. Then I’ll carve an outer “frame” and backing to mount LED lights in.

So are you carving out a pocket where the white areas are?
If so you can use a strait end mill for the large areas then use a v-bit for the corners.

What Robert said, solid wood… don’t use ply or mdf for that.

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Here’s version 2 try.

Hard wood it is - have track some down tomorrow.
Thanks Phil for the path tip - hadn’t even thought about “on path” causing it to thin out. Best plan to cut it all on inside path?


I would be tempted not to mill all the way through the material, leave a couple of mm, fill with epoxy and then either mill the back off or just sand it away. This will help support the thinner pieces and give support for the epoxy infill. 2 Birds, 1 Stone :slight_smile:


Not a bad idea, one thing to watch out for/ avoid is air bubbles trapped within the pocket. (usually happen between the pocket wall/floor)

Will def switch to a down cut spiral to help control lift…
If I can come up with hardwood for it leaving a layer at the back to sand off would be way easier.
Thanks for the tips.

Ran out of time to find some hardwood so I tried 1/4" MDF and thanks to Phil’s reminder about paths I changed it to “inside” and it gave me the clearance I needed. I then used 1/2" MDF to carve a “border” to give me the depth I needed for the LED lights and an outline shape for the back.

Filled it with table top epoxy and gave it to my granddaughter for her 4th birthday. As an added bonus she can control it using her Amazon Alexa - she walks into the room and says “Alexa, turn on my butterfly”. Way cool - thanks for the help.


Thanks Phil, it took me a little time to get paths down and that’s kinda important!
Robert - it’s way easy just search Amazon for Epoxy Pigment - here’s one that I used - FYI it only takes a very small amout of color, the first one I bought I got the 4oz size thinking I would need a lot of it to color but I’ve learned that I now have about a 4 year supply of yellow!