Engraving on birch plywood

Hi All,

Wondering if anyone has any pointers to stop it splintering on when engraving? Is there anyway that I can prepare it for this process?

Thanks in advance

Downcut endmill such as our #251 or a compression endmill w/ a suitable toolpath — you’ll still get a bit, but usually a quick pass w/ a file will clean it up.

For projects where I don’t have material to spare I’ll do a V carving to chamfer around the potentially critical areas first if the design allows for that.

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What type of bit are you using and how deep a cut?

Most of the time I’m not having issues, for the larger parts I am using the #251 or an Amana version. the text that I am trying to V carve is the issue, I am using the Amana RC-1145 45 v bit. Its sometimes pulling of the top layer around the smaller letters. I didn’t know if there was anything I can use before carving to prevent this?


So is it parts where the remaining surface area is small like the inner parts of a and e that the top ply is getting pulled out?

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Yeah you got it, sometimes the remaining parts between the letters too

That’s a serious looking bit, I’m using the cheap Trend TCT V bits, doubt there’s any sharpness problem.

If it’s the V carves causing the issue, I’ve had some success on the weaker parts where there’s less supporting grain distance by coming into the carve in a series of steps so that I’m only taking 0.5mm or so off each time, running at 20k+ RPM and a pretty slow feed rate (1000mm / min) that way the cutter is not generating much load on the wood as it’s taking tiny little shavings off each time. It’s slow but for the parts where the workpiece is weak it seems to work. I’ve not had any success sticking painters tape over the surface or anything like that, just made a horrid mess of the cutter and needed cleaning up.

Depending on how deep your carves are and whether an initial 1mm pass cuts cleanly it might we worth running a toolpath that cuts the two top edges of the V through the top veneers first before hogging out the bulk.



Thank you, it at least give me something to try! Appreciate the help!!

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Let us know if you find a fix, also listen carefully to the cut, I’ve noticed that as soon as I can hear vibration on the birch ply the surface finish becomes a real problem. I quite frequently pause the job and “review” my workholding.

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You could try masking the plywood with Easy Shelf Adhesive Shelf Paper. I buy it at Walmart and have seen it at Lowes. You put the adhesive shelf paper on top of your project and use a J roller to press it down. The shelf paper helps keep the grain in place. I like it when I am going to paint the project because you have a way to mask off the background. Now sometimes depending on how the piece is carved the mask gets torn up and has jagged edges. In those cases just pull the shelf paper off and seal with dewaxed shellac and then paint the carving.

The mask may not work every time but it works a lot of the time.


I have used Oramask masking film on pine and such, not plywood though. Research this and perhaps it may work. It is a great tool for V carve and painting.

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