Wood Landscapes

I’ve been working on making landscapes out of wood for almost a year, and I just finished creating a Kickstarter project. The X-carve has been a great tool for me, and hopefully I’ll be able to upgrade it after project finishes. The video actually shows the X-Carve in action.

Project Link


I really like this idea. Very cool keeping the log as the base. In some of the pictures and video the contour detail gets lost / camouflaged because of the natural wood grains. Do you find that’s the case in person as well? Have you ever tried to highlight the contours more with “antiquing”? Leaving some stain or some other agent more in the recessed areas.

I have thought about doing some of these, for a local forest I work on. It would be great if you could post a video of how you created your g code.

In person, much more of the details are visible. I think the main issue is the lighting. The small details become very apparent when you look at it in person and can change your or the woods position so that the light hits it at different angles. I definitely agree about the wood grains, but getting the live edge unfortunately forces the grain to be what it is.

When I first started, I purchased several different types of wood from lumber supplier. The maple wood I got was light with darker growth rings and was cut flat grain. This ended up creating a really interesting look, because the lines in the wood created what looks like topographic elevation lines. I also tried walnut which looked nice, but some of the details were lost due to the darker and more homogeneous wood. The oak piece I tried had extremely coarse grain, and it looked awful.

I’m terrible at finishing wood, so I haven’t tried highlighting the contours yet. I imagine that would be a very cool look, but I’m not yet competent enough to want to try.

There are a few different ways to go from a location to G-Code, but the cheapest (and fastest for smaller areas) way is the following. Note, you must own Vectric or be able to import Sketchup files into another g-code generating program.

Use Google Sketchup. Press File-Geo Location-Add Location. It will bring up a window much like google earth where you can navigate to a specific location and press Select Region-Grab. You can resize the area as well. One thing to note, which is by far the major draw back with Sketchup, is that you can only capture a square mile at at time. This can be done over and over to get more area included. Not a big deal if you need just a couple of square miles, but gathering a hundred is awful. After that’s done, then press File-Geo Location-Show Terrain. Save it, then import it into Vectric or something else.

The other option is to use GIS programs (there are some free, but they are buggy to the point of not being usable) after you gather the elevation data, and then export it into a usable format into another cad/cam program. This was difficult to figure out, and my wife who is getting her PhD with a focus on GIS was necessary to figure out how to do it. I wouldn’t advise going through it unless you want to spend months to get to a working solution like I did.