Community challenge #30: Gifts

Made for a customer who will use it as a gift.

Original request

It went through several design iterations…

Based on the original request


So I removed the names, and added a tractor


Final design approved.

19" x 36", so it’s going to require tiling. I did use the tiling feature, and set it at 20" so the overlap was between the tractor & the union.

I did a couple test cuts with the scrap to see how it cut, and decide what to do with the edges

On the machine

I did the first cut with the 1/4" endmill, then the 2nd with a 90° downcut V-bit.
On the 2nd tile, I left the V-bit in & cut that path first, then did the clearing path last.
I did get a slightly better result cutting with the V-bit first.
A good hard brushing with a stiff nylon scrub brush got rid of the ‘fuzzies’.

Finished product is 1/2" Walnut plywood with several coats of lacquer.

Chance_Wackerlin_Flag.c2d (484 KB)


Earlier this year my wife and I made a simple cutting board for ourselves and when my Mom saw it on a call she said she wanted one. We stepped it up a notch and made this one for her Christmas gift this year…I hope she doesn’t see this post before Christmas but suspect she doesn’t look at this site too often.

We started with a cutting board kit from Woodcraft and glued it up, planed it, joined the edges on the router table with a wide cutter and a shim behind one fence plate, then squared it up and had it all ready for the Shapeoko. The wood is Angelique (an African mahogany or relative of mahogany), Wenge, and Hard Maple.

We have a Shapeoko Pro XXL and I programmed up the cuts using carbide create and Shapeoko tooling with standard speeds and feeds for hardwood. I drew up the juice groove and minion-looking character with the cleaver in each corner. I happened into some luck programming by putting the little guy in one corner, programming it, then going back and patterning, then rotating the other three. The software updated the cuts to handle all four with no extra programming…thanks Shapeoko for that cutpath link checkbox! I made the juice groove by a slotting with the 1/4” cutter, then using the profiles for the inner and outer edges to run contour cuts on each one with a 1/4” ball nose. It came out great with excellent z repeatability between those cuts.

After it was all done I ran the vertical corners through the router table with a 1/4” round over bit, then put a 1/4” bevel on the bottom to give my Mom something to get her fingers under for picking it up. I sanded it up and applied some mineral oil. Here it is…


Our Shapeoko Pro and JTech laser attachment have been very busy this last month…as is standard when getting new toys! Saw some posts on laser forums about coloring kits that the kids can paint individual layers then glue together to make a scene, so I figured we’d give it a go. Made these for a friend’s 3 boys to paint over the break and it sounds like they’re going to be a hit!


As I said…our Shapeoko and laser have been busy! Wasn’t sure if I was supposed to put these as the same entry or multiple, so I went with multiple posts. I volunteer in our nursery at church and we wanted something special for them to do for the Christmas Eve service. We opted for ornaments they can paint and take home with them! Pretty simple design (necessary when talking about toddlers) made with AI - first design I’ve tried AI with and I’m pretty happy with the result! I used Carbide Create to edit all of the nodes then exported it into lightburn for the actual cutting. 1/8” wood, so nothing too thick or difficult to get through.


Last one, I promise! Designed and made this one for my son as a Christmas present. This one, specifically, ended up going to a friend who helped me add to / improve upon the design. 1/8” plywood with 3 different layers. Used a Borax solution to try and get the engraving a little darker, but the air assist blew around so much soot that I had to clean the engravings - still trying to figure out how to prevent that, so if you have any tricks, I’d love to hear it!


scolba Entry 1 - Ravenclaw Sorting Plaque

The Process
My wife’s side of the family does a Secret Santa style gift exchange amongst the siblings and siblings-in-law. So rather than getting something for all, we end up getting something for just one individual. Most of the time, this ends up being a better, more meaningful gift, because we spend more time on it rather than just hitting the Amazon wish list.

So this year I drew my wife’s sister. As described in a post here asking for help, she is a nerd much like the rest of us, but her and her family’s nerddoom lies with the Harry Potter universe. She had been "sorted’ recently, so I thought it would be fun to create a house plaque for Ravenclaw.

As I started to research it, I landed on other details like the Ravenclaw Traits, the year of sorting, etc. After several iterations of design, scouring the web for free fonts and vector birds, and with help from several forum members and the C3D folks, I landed on what you see in the images here. Don’t blame them for the poor finishing, though. Thats all on me. :slight_smile:

Mistakes and Lessons Learned
Oh boy. So this could be a long post. So having purchased my S3XXL on December 8th, I really jumped in doing too much, too fast. Though, the vids from @KevBarn14 really inspired me to just get cutting, and I sure did. This was the first real design or project that I have done, and the learning process took me into late nights after the kids were in bed, which no doubt compounded some of my issues.

Really these are the big take aways from this project, though there is some overlap with some subsequent entries as well.

  • 7.1875 != 7.375
  • If you are really close to the edges on your stock, make sure its positioned correctly in the file, or you are going to run off the stock.
  • V bits don’t need to be that deep to be effective for small details
  • V bits can’t do it all
  • I need more (bigger variety of) bits!
  • Correct measurements of depth of stock is critical
  • Spray lacquer isn’t a miracle worker
  • The videos from are great and will save you a lot of time if you start there rather than just jumping right in
  • My planer is terrible
  • Plan on using more stock than you think…something is going to go wrong.
  • Plan Ahead - Big box stores, and even some specialty woodworker’s shops don’t have smaller bits available or in stock.
  • I have a lot to learn

Ravenclaw Sign_ConvertedText_Texture.c2d (1.1 MB)


scolba Entry 2 - Family Ornaments

The Process
This one was inspired by an early google search after I decided I can make a bunch of presents this year. I saw one (though I’m still not entirely sure how they did it) that was laser curt, and multiple layers with balls ornaments and names like these. I thought to myself, self, that shouldn’t be too hard to whip out in an afternoon. Ha.

I started with the design. I learned a lot about text from my other project, so had a bit of help with this one, converting to curves, then trimming the vectors.

I ended up going through several iterations in MDF, before trying other materials. I tried plywood first, but I don’t have any down cut bits yet, so that quickly became apparent it wasn’t going to work. Oak didn’t work, because oak. All my cherry and walnut is 4/4 and 5/4 and I couldn’t find any locally that was thinner. Ultimately I ended up resawing and planing the cherry down to about 3/8.

Mistakes and Lessons Learned
I really didn’t realize how small these letters and numbers had gotten. That combined with trying to jam them together, so they fit on a ball makes some of them nearly unreadable. At one point I was curing my family for giving everybody such long names. :smiley: My niece, Charlotte, is barely readable, and my nephew Callahan…is just Cal. So I guess I mean to say that my mistake and lesson on this one is…I shouldn’t get so locked into a form factor and make sacrifices because of it. If had done an oval ornament, or a tree instead of ornament as the decoration, it would have been more interesting visually. An added bonus is then I wouldn’t have to worry about if my niece is upset because her name isn’t very readable.

  • Be flexible in design. There are lots of great ways to accomplish similar goals.
  • Thin, raised letters are hard. I feel like this is a level 200 type skill that I’ll get eventually.
  • V bits can’t do it all, as in they have a lower limit to detail
  • I need more (bigger variety of) bits!
  • UNIFORM depth of stock is critical
  • Spray lacquer isn’t a miracle worker
  • Plan on using more stock than you think…something is going to go wrong.
  • Plan Ahead - Big box stores, and even some specialty woodworker’s shops don’t have smaller bits available or in stock.
  • New bandsaw resaw blades cut like a hot knife through butter. Stop using your old one because “it still has some life left”. Ask me how I know. lol
  • I have a lot to learn

2023 Ornaments - VCarve.c2d (980 KB)
*Pardon the angled ornament - I was trying to avoid a bark inclusion


scolba Entry 3 - Family Puzzle

The Process
This one is for my Mother in Law (all of these entries are for my Wife’s side because we are celebrating tomorrow 12/23. My side doesn’t celebrate until new years, so I have some more time for theirs! :D). I wanted to make her something that means something to her, and to me as well. This one sort of hit me in the middle of another conversation. Kind of a eureka moment.

She really enjoys puzzles. She isn’t the type to sit in one place for more than a couple of minutes. So she almost always has a puzzle out on their big island in the kitchen. And as she walks by from doing one thing to another, she will always stop and find a few pieces, and then move on. Well…turns out, I like puzzles too! I just didn’t know until recently, when she started bringing her puzzles back out after a kitchen reno there. So my enjoyment is directly from her, so you can see the tie in there.

So the rest is fairly formulaic, and seems like is an Etsy staple. Each family is a piece, the pieces fit together, etc. Originally it was going to set into a round base with a 1/2" pocket, that would have a keyhole for haning on the wall. Then I was planning on setting neodymium magnets in the base and into each piece so you could remove them. However after making the base, and cutting the pocket, it turned out to be scaled incorrectly. So it got scraped in favor of time.

I didn’t want to just buy and Etsy file and go nuts…though in retrospect I would have saved myself a lot of headaches if I had - but I also wouldn’t have learned as much as I did. I googled, found a suitable file, converted it in Inkscape, imported into CC, and then went through probably 4 different versions, and after a series of CC crashes, me not saving correctly, learning how to actually manipulate nodes, I finally had my files for my pieces and base.

Mistakes and Lessons Learned
This is probably my most frustrating experience so far. For design I made some stupid mistakes and didn’t save when I should have. For the cutting part…my machine kept disconnecting several times during the cut, and so I would have to start over. I had to start over 3 separate times. Additionally, the router was revving up and down like it was running super rich…and eventually would almost completely shut off before spinning back up. The TL:DR version of this story is…its not static (though I do plan on adding grounding wires), its not the brushes, it was what I thought was a good heavy duty power strip from Stanly. So the lessons learned for me on this one are:

  • Save Often
  • Use directly connected outlets
  • If cutting parts that are meant to nest together, print out paper versions of the plan first to make sure you scaled things correctly.
  • Don’t just add a chamfer without double-checking the text. (Facepalm)

Howie Puzzle Pieces Heart.c2d (644 KB)
Howie Puzzle Base.c2d (716 KB)

scolba Entry 4 - Love Multiplies

The Process
Ok last one for me, until at least next week! :smiley:

This one is for my wife. So we had our first kiddo 2.5 years ago. The little dude is just the best. As we found out we were going to have another one (surprise!) we had talked candidly with our families about how we were a little worried about another…we love our first kid so much, how could we possible love another one that much?! My wife’s grandmother had been asked that same question before and her response was, love doesn’t get divided. It multiplies. She is gone now, but the family choses to remember her with that quote. I don’t plan to point out many others have been attributed with it. :slight_smile:

So that’s the scope here…this is a representation of our little family, with that saying in a partial banner across the top.

So for this one, I don’t remember what inspired me to do it, but I was thinking about how cool it could be if you could undercut with like a t-slot bit for some different effects. I don’t even know if that is possible, but instead of going that way, I spit it into two parts. A textured pocket behind, and a contoured top.

I was hoping to use light wood, as maple is my wife’s favorite, but availability and time became an issue. My maple isn’t wide enough for the base I made first, and my thin birch plywood version just didn’t work - don’t have a down cut bit. So more resawn cherry it is!

Mistakes and Lessons Learned
I learned a lot with this one trying to get the different pockets to work. Even now as I look back at it after doing the puzzle project, I see how sloppy it is, and how much better it could be. The biggest challenge I had was trying to get the hearts to stay together for support, but still give them definition. I ended up using a vcarve bit on a contour pass, and then cut the negative space out afterward. It left something to be desired.

I actually screwed up quite a bit on this one, and it’s got a lot of blemishes (that are hidden in the photo!)

So here are my takeaways on this one.

  • My 1/8 single flute doesn’t go all the way through 7/8 stock.
  • A dull flush trim bit will cause tear out
  • BitZero is awesome, but it does not set the angle of the stock along the Y (for some reason I had it in my head that if my stock isn’t parallel to the beam, when I probe with BitZero it gets the measurement, sees the angle and adjusts accordingly. No idea why I assumed that, but there’s not enough data gathered there to even tell, and that assumption, and careless angle with slim margins cased me to go off the stock)
  • I need to get better at creating pockets along common pieces.
  • Adding some sort of locating pin or slot feature to the top and bottom pieces would go a long way to gluing them together.

sign font family.c2d (316 KB)
sign back textured.c2d (132 KB)

Btw - in case you are wondering, it does indeed multiply. Our daughter is 8 months now and is also, just the best. :smiley:


This piece is done on Shapeoko 3XXL with basic Carbide Create. Base is 3/4" MDF, and the layers are 1/4" MDF. After the barbed wire was cut, i used a pointed roundover bit on the edges to give it some detail. The perimeter side edge was hit in random pattern with angle grider to give it a distressed look. After it was all painted it was flooded with clear epoxy.

Cougar Ink / Brad’s Custom Signs


Nicely done, @brahau65, both the project and the video!


Made using my Shapeoko 3 XXL (with it’s OG belt drive Z axis and dewalt router)

The Process:
Poem was written by a friend who wanted to customize a project for her mom for Christmas. We came up with the idea of a small serving board that can be used for both display and using food-grade finishes (just in case) featuring her poem.

I designed the file originally using her own handwriting. After importing into Carbide Create and sharing the design, she was too critical of her own handwriting - so we opted for a handwritten font instead. And of course, the font she chose: Every single letter needed clean up (deleting and/or smoothing nodes) so that was a bit of work.

It was a 2 hour cut with a 60 degree vbit. Material used is maple. Then a simple #201 end mill for cutout.

Lessons learned:

I cut the board, and sealed with mineral oil - and as soon as I poured in the epoxy, I knew it was not enough to hold back the pigment and I had a ton of bleed into the surrounding wood almost immediately after pouring the epoxy. We originally had chosen black for the lettering but it was much too stark and harsh for the design.

Second attempt: using epoxy resin with mica powder only. I went with a bronze brown color to align with the warmth of the maple and it was a wonderful choice.

Very happy with how this turned out!


[Full Tutorial Video ](2023 Gatton CNC Christmas Challenge

Linked above is the tutorial video for this 3 stage epoxy light up Christmas tree I designed and build for my mom. This was also a submission to a different holiday contest I found for cnc users. Wish I knew about carbides before! Just found this post today haha

The file was made from canva then edited in carbide create. I designed and carved the back to fit the lights custom.

First step was to Carve and pour epoxy 3 times on the front side before surfacing. Then flip it over and pocket out the areas for lights and custom fired back cover. Tons of time in carbide create making all the vectors and toolpaths.

No major mistakes, but I don’t like how dim the lights are or how they are fitted. I would get stronger lights for sure next time.


A serving tray on which to present some treats for my father this Xmas. I’ll happily post the files, though design was done in Carveco Maker, so the designs are in .art and not an accepted attachment type. The toolpaths are in .nc (Shapeoko post-processor, mm), which will be attached at the end. Carving and shape cutting performed on my new-last-month Shapeoko 4 XXL.

My dad had a Brittany Spaniel when I was a kid and that dog went with him everywhere. His favorite dog, even 30 plus years later. He’s not very mobile and has some issues with his grip now, so a lap tray with easily grasped handles should also be useful for him.

The tray started out as an IKEA cutting board. The handles are from some scrap hard maple stock I milled down to 3/4" for this. I intentionally used the piece with a little extra spalting because I thought it could use the contrast.

  1. Trimmed the beveled edges and of course the IKEA logo off.
  2. Ran the v-carve using a 90 degree, 1/4" v-bit, 1/8" up-cut bit for roughing.
  3. Sanded back the original oil to clean bamboo, especially since these cutting boards are not very well-smoothed or flattened.
  4. Ran some maple over the jointer and cut to length, then surfaced the other side on the Shapeoko, using a 3-wing, 1" surfacing bit.
  5. Ran the profile cuts for the handles with a #201 (1/4" up-cut).
  6. Drilled 3/8" dowel holes into the handles and top of cutting board so no fastening was visible.
  7. Eased all edges of both the board and the handles on the router table using an 1/8" roundover bit.
  8. Sanded all surfaces to 180 grit.
  9. Glued handles to board with dowels and let glue set.
  10. Coated with food-safe mineral oil and let set for a couple hours, then wiped it down.

The main thing I learned on this one is that I have zero luck with Oramask. I intended to color-fill the v-carve, but my roughing pass shredded the masking beyond use. That’s both my main mistake and something I learned I need to find a better method for. No matter how clean thy surfaces I apply it to are, unless I am using only a v-bit, the stuff either pulls up or shreds on me.

I just realized I could reverse the tooling order on these. Well, I’ll give that a try for my next attempt using OraMask on a carve! (71.6 KB) (412.4 KB)


my 3rd carving,


Made using my Shapeoko 3 XXL

The Process:
I found original idea I believe on this site many years ago and decided to give it a shot. They look nice and are perfect not just for newlyweds but also I am making some more of these for all my dear friends who have been married for a long time.

The longest time-consuming part is making re-creating the many long sweeping vectors in the big “illuminated” letter. Converting from a raster image into vectors, then painstakingly cleaning up extra vertices for the many curves in all the flourishes. Once its done it can be reused of course …one letter down, 25 more to go for other names!

Everything was cut using a 60 degree v-bit. Except for the final cut out. However its Ieft in place for the next and final CNC step , to flatten and remove epoxy. Same .25 endmill for cut out was used for final epoxy surface removal. More to come on that….

Lessons learned:

Making sure your environment is safe and stable. I tried to run another quick layer removal after a power failure due to overloading my circuit panel. I though I could get away with it since absolute zero didn’t matter for simple surface g-code boy was I wrong….TBH I think it was because I didn’t tighten the collet enough.

Second attempt: I was not watching when the next incident occurred, and I almost cried when I realized I lost one of my most cherished accessory mods for my Shapeoko….Not sure what happened but my suck-it dust boot became the next victim for this gift idea. So sad :frowning:

In the end it looks great and I cant wait to give this as a gift and see their expression on their face. Of course I cant tell them the pain it caused ! LOL




Facebook was spamming me with ads for something similar, so I drew it up in Affinity Designer and cut it on my S03.

bear (3.8 MB)


Colorful Rooster Wall Art/Catch All Tray with Epoxy inlay made from Hard Maple wood.

For Christmas my Mother asked me to make a rooster on my CNC machine. She gave me vague instructions, but this is what I came up with.

I found an image that I brought into Carbide Create to trace. In Carbide Create I created an outline of the image. I used this outline for the pocket tool path. Next I did another outline set for .4inches for the lip. I used this outline for the cutout tool pass with tabs. I used an advanced v-carve tool path to create the rooster inlay. Here are a few pictures of the process.

I found a nice piece of hard maple wood. I ripped two piece on a table saw to the dimensions I needed and glued them together. I let the glue cure for 1 day and then started on the project with my Shapeoko 5pro.

Before I started on the rooster project, I surfaced both sides of the board with a surfacing bit to ensure it was flat to the machine.

The first tool path was carving out the pocket.

Pocket tool path done, now doing the advanced v-carve tool path to create the rooster inlay. Started with a 1/8 end mill, then used a 60 degree v-bit.

Rooster inlay finished. Up next is pouring the different colors of the rooster in epoxy.

I used mica powder in the Epoxy to create different colors. To get the epoxy into the feathers and small areas, I used syringes with needles.

I let the epoxy cure for a day. I used the pocket tool path with a 1/4 end mill to surface the epoxy and create a nice flat surface with the bottom of the pocket and the inlay.

Epoxy surfaced and ready for it to be cut out

Cut out tool path done.

After cutting the tabs off, I went through several grits of sandpaper to get the wood smooth to the touch. I put several coats of oil to finish the project off. I am happy with the way the rooster turned out, and my mom loved it.

What I learned/would do differently:
I only used two clamps when gluing the 2 boards together, I should have used 3 if not 4 would have been better. When I surfaced the epoxy, I only surfaced the outline of the rooster and not the entire area of the pocket. It created an uneven surface, so I had to create a new tool path to surface the entire area of the bottom of the pocket. It worked out perfectly. I should have taken the time to move some of the nodes to create softer lines on the outline. There are some sharp edges and points. Perhaps I should have used a bowl bit on the pocket tool path to create a rounded edge on the inside.


Harry Potter Hogwarts Crest

For Christmas I made the Hogwarts Crest for my daughter to display with her wand collection. She is a Harry Potter fanatic, so this crest will make a great addition to her growing wand collection. I found an image of the crest and used carbide create to trace the image.

I used birch plywood with an advanced v-carve tool path. Used 1/4in end mill then switched to a 60 degree v-bit to finish up. Then used 1/4 end mill for the contour cut out path.

I cut of the tabs, gave it a quick sanding and cleaned up some of the fuzzies left behind. I used white acrylic paint for the first coat. Then used the appropriate colors for each house and also painted the back yellow.

Things I learned: I am not very good at painting. Trying to do the feathers on the eagle was hard for me with my severely limited painting skills. I liked the way the crest turned out, and my daughter is thrilled with it.