Well here’s some of my first work, mostly carving signs is what I have experimented with. Its been 6 months of learning my machine and I have some things that ( feel free to comment) I have learned that has delivered pretty good work. My goal is to sell signs on Etsy or at Local Craft Fairs. So here goes a list of things I have learned, changed, think are best solutions.
- Feed Speeds - Learned that you have to let the machine start, then try moving rates faster. I have worked with lots of wood(s)… like maples best, Birch Plywood is okay, better with a MDF core, pine is great for trying something out, but switch to another wood for better quality. Back to feed speeds, I don’t want anything to take over 2 hours, and have moved almost consistently to two stage (Roughing using biggest bit diameter I can - usually 1/8 inch and (Detail) using a 60 deg or 90 deg bit with 3 flutes. Three are better than one… bigger the roughing bit, faster you can go.
- When engraving for signage found that .035 inch is a good depth unless you are going to overpaint a color on the finished carving board… then .045 inch is the least I would go… especially if you are overpainting a carved out with a roller! Many of the signs here have blackened carve outs, sanded down then a good no best quality foam roller with acrylic paint over the board leaves good clean lettering or carvings. Also I like staining the board, then carving, then coloring in the carving, then sanding out, leaving that distressed look… DONT CARVE TOO DEEP, AS IT TAKES MANY PASSES TO GET A FINAL CARVE… LOTS OF TIME…
- Buy good bits, I use SPEKTRA bits usually from Amana Tools. wide variety, and haven’t broke one yet , even using the first 1/8" diameter upcut bit I bought 4 months ago. ( and they stay sharp ) Same for the 60 deg or 90 deg carving bits for detail, bought 4 and paid a lot but still getting good results from the first!
- My carved round signs are stock birch plywood and they are also carving great at about .035 -.040. Trick is to find the exact depth that another layer of plywood is your bottom to get smooth carved bottoms of your carve. With the plywood with MDF core, …no problem… carve out that thin birch or aspen of maple veneer and you get something to stain, or pain, but good smooth carve outs. I use ochoohardwoods.com.
Now my questions:
- When do I need to replace brushes on my dewlat router?
- Cold winters in my garage shop … is that why my program stops sometimes in the middle of a carve and goes back to park? I usually start over, and fast speed carve through the parts already carved, then slow it down when I am coming up on the unfinished part. But it sure is frustrating when you’re 50 minutes in and it does that.
- I have had to adjust the tightening of the z axis wheels twice now, as they were showing movement on carves, especially detailing. (What I mean to say is that the stress of moving x,y was rocking the z plate.) I have never detail carved over 35 inches per minute. I know this is not an industrial machine, but it this maintenance normal?
- I use a silicone treated gun cloth to wipe down my rails/belts after good vacuuming. Any better ways to clean/ light ever so light lubrication to rails and bets?
Enough for my first real post.