Switchplate Covers?

I’m in the final decision self-argument about getting a X-Carve but I’d like some clarity on whether or not it will “etch” switchplate covers. The majority would be plastic (typically polycarbonate) and a few of them would be painted aluminum. The plan would be to etch the text and then fill with an epoxy / enamel for contrast.

Anybody have experience doing this? Would give me a lot more comfort pulling the trigger on getting one.

As an electrician I’ve installed tins of covers and all I can say is the buggers are fragile! I feel like putting pressure on it will brake them. It would be possible though I think if you made some sort of jig to hold the covers on a flat surface. Good luck!

Long time before I got the X-Carve, but I did once buy Switchplates carved out of Corian that matched my countertop. Seems like a do at home job now.

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I can’t vouch for plastic but a 1/16 bit does pretty good on oak pallet wood

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Man my OCD just kicked in hard! Did you purposely align the fan text there?

Haha nope, I hosed up my alignment in Easle and didn’t catch it until after the job was done. It’s for my wife’s bathroom so I don’t have to look at it very much or I’d have to redo it.

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It should work perfectly. I have done polycaronate, acrylic, aluminum and brass. You will need etching bits like these super cheap ones from Amazon:

Then, etch at around .002" depth of cut. The larger the text, the deeper you want to go to get it to fill easily with paint or epoxy. For that switch plate shown in this thread, I would probably etch to .003 or .004" I get better results when I make at least two passes to get to final depth. You will also need a way to LEVEL your work piece. Which means you should mill out a pocket in some MDF so the pocket is perfectly true to your machine. Then, you need a way to precisely set your z height - a z probe, which I think comes with the new machine but is easily added.

Etch, fill with paint, and then a business card works great to squeegee extra paint off the surface. THEN - one trick I found online is to take a phone book, open it up, pour a little paint thinner on a page, let it soak through a couple pages. Place your work piece upside down on the page press, and pull down. Turn page, do again. Only make one pass on each page. Leaves a perfectly clean surface, provided your surface is pretty smooth.

Awesome - thanks for the reassurance that it can be done. - sure it may take some work but at least it can! Thanks!

I don’t know if you’re Vcarve user. I was working on this covers while ago. I touched-up a little.
Check to see if you can use this.

Switch Cover back-1-final.crv (1.1 MB)
Switch CoverFace-final.crv (1.6 MB)

It should work just fine. Carving on existing switch plate should be no more challenging than etching a circuit board.
I think if you make a jig that would hold and support the switch plate it would go a lot faster. You could even use the existing switch plate mount holes for hold down screws.

@AlanDavis - I don’t use v-carve yet, however customer support said that I would need it to use the correct bit to make this happen. I’m wondering if Fusion360 would accomplish that as well?

@AaronMatthews - Good point about the circuit board, I didn’t even think about that. I would definately make a jig to hold them nice and happy and love the idea of using the existing screws - thanks for that tip.

Well - that makes me feel a little better about the possibilities of being able to accomplish it and it makes be feel a little worse about customer support!

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Random thought. If you are carving on a fragile switch cover and need additional support, you might be able to rig something with a box and some expanding foam. Use a larger than needed box so the form can be squared up to the CNC.