Carving letters

I have a small project I’ve been asked to do and am wondering if any of you with some experience can share with me. So, let me give a little detail. I’ve been asked to carve a small plaque: 6 inches long, 1 inch high, and 1/2 inch thick. The letters will be a combination of upper and lower case. At this point I am not sure if this will be a V carve into the wood or and end mill removing wood from around the letters. Based on the size of the letters (under an inch) I am particularly concerned with the inside of the lower case letters like a, b, d, e, g, o, p, and q. Might they break off in the process? Would the type of wood being used have any impact of that, i.e. hard wood v. soft wood. I would also be interested in any bit, feed and speed suggestions. Thanks for any suggestions.

Yes, wood grain is a concern. A finer grain hardwood will work better for this sort of thing.

A more acute V endmill will cut details more finely. A #302 is a good first choice.

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Regarding feeds and speeds for V-bits, I use this guideline:

  • RPM in the 16k–20k range

  • Feedrate in the 30–60 ipm range (lower for hard wood, faster for soft wood)

  • Depth per pass in the 0.1–0.2’’ range

  • Plunge rate in the 10–20 ipm range


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