My carving is starting to improve

After reading up a bit more about techniques for carving wood, and practicing with scraps of hardwood, I had another go at the technique of carving wood with a 30° V bit. I am happier with this result as the overall appearance is not quite so amateur looking as my previous efforts.

Tooling: Amana 30° V bit #45771-K on ¼" shank
Plunge: 500mm per minute (19.68 inches per minute)
Feed: 1500 mm per minute (59.05 inches per minute)
RPM: 18,000
Pass depth: 0.2mm (0.0078")
Passes: 1
Wood: Poplar
Finish: 2000 grit random orbital sander then a single coat of walnut oil with beeswax.

If any woodworker has any suggestions for picking out the illustration while keeping well defined lines, I would be happy to take any advices offered.


Wood is 2 pieces of 200 x 60 x 10mm of poplar which were glued together with Titebond III and then held by six clamps for 24 hours. Surface was sanded with a random orbital sander and up to 2000 grit before any carving.

This was the basic carve which occupied 7 minutes of machine time.

The completed carve and finish.


Sharp! Great job
My only tips (not required in this instance) would be

  • surfacing the stock using the machine, before vcarving, to ensure perfect even depth of the carve
  • running the vcarve op twice in a row
  • dark epoxy infill is a great way to increase contrast of the finished piece (but it’s a matter of taste)

Thanks Julien… that is appreciated. I see the beautiful work (the example piece you like to show) you produce and also want to do the work to the same high standard.

Yes, I did not do this because the stock was really flat and I glued and clamped along the join especially to keep the pieces flat. Surfacing was a process that should not have been missed (the issue can be seen in the slight variations in depth towards the bottom of the wolf illustration) and I will be sure to undertake it with the next piece.

Yes, I had not done that and at 7 minutes machine time, I could easily have taken the same pass twice. I just used the soft brass brush to clean up the fuzzies.

I had not considered an epoxy infill but I supposed that one day I am going to have to bite the bullet and try it. Where the lines are not very deep how do you keep the epoxy from staining the wood?

a thin brushed coat of clear epoxy and letting it fully cure before pouring the dark epoxy, prevents any bleeding. In the thinnest/shallowest parts of the vcarve, since the dark epoxy will never be perfectly opaque you will see through, but sometimes it provides an interesting visual effect


Thanks Julien… definitely something new to try, along with all of the other new techniques. I am about to start carving a new piece in aluminium for my drill press. The collar holding the depth guage broke so a new collar is in order. I am messing with the drawing as we speak. What is a relief though is the machine is now performing as I would expect it to so that simplifies everything.

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you can also use paint (airbrush or just art paint) on vcarves quite well… and then use a (orbital) sander to sand away the "overpaint. Works even better if you do a light coat of poly on the material before cutting it, that way any overpaint gets on the poly and sands off easily, while in the carved areas it’ll adhere to the wood well

other option (for inverse contrast) is to stain the wood first, and then carve it, that way the carved areas become lighter to a dark background


Thanks very much, Arjan. These are excellent ideas for me to try. I will try the stain next because I have some kicking around.

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Lookin’ good @jepho !

I did the very thing @fenrus mentioned in a recent project, turned out pretty well! I used Polycrylic for the clear coat, it’s very easy to use and apply. I painted/poly coated/carved/painted/finished with more poly and I think it turned out okay for a one-shot project (DIY Hive board game):

I used my airbrush to apply the paint, much more fun to use than a spray can!



What kind of compressor do you use with your airbrush?

This guy
I like the extra capacity, so the compressor only turns on every 20 mins or so when frequently airbrushing. And I like the (relative) quietness of it too.

This is one of the earliest trays of many I’ve made as gifts. To illustrate the use of paint, incorrectly haha!
I learned on the forum about precoat clear before color as mentioned above. Also, poly is great but it takes so long to dry. I like to use pre-cat lacquer. You can do multiple coats in a single day and it’s one of the toughest finishes available.


Do you run an oil/water filter in line too?

Yup! Here. The compressor I use is oil-free so no oil concerns, just water.

Looks nice @Griff ! The water-based Polycrylic I used has a nice quick dry time, easy to brush on quick, and has no odor. Butttt sounds like pre-cat laquer is far superior in toughness, so I’ll keep that in mind!

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Thanks Kyle. I am learning more with every project. I am going to have to obtain a range of wood finishes. The board game looks great. Really tactile looking. I don’t have an airbrush but do have a small paint sprayer. I know they are not the same but the finish is often better than that which can be obtained with a brush.

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Nice going, Griff. I have a whole heap of new techniques to try. It may be that I have to order in a bit more wood so I can stop using scraps. I have seen a tin of the Pre-cat laquer advertised locally and going for around £43. (around $60 per tin so not a cheap finish)

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for the undercoat to make it easy to sand off any “overpaint”… don’t go for the very expensive stuff… the point of that undercoat in part is to sand it off later :wink:
(and prevent the paint from bleeding into the wood outside of the cut area)


Following all of the good advice here, I had another shot. I followed @Julien’s advice and surfaced the wood to ensure flatness. I made one pass with a 24mm surfacing cutter on both sides of the wood. The pass was 0.01mm on either side and it was sufficient. When looking closely at the wood (poplar again) the centreline join is now quite good and one may miss it on first glance if you did not know where to find it.

I had also followed Julien’s advice to cut the pattern twice. I did this to a depth of 0.2mm (0.0078") and I was reasonably happy with the image. I suspect that I was too rough with the soft brass brush and took out more than just a few of the fuzzies.

The next image shows the pattern covered with paint. These are from a range of non-toxic paints and varnishes that have been tested and approved for children. The paint dries super quick as does the matt varnish which I had applied before the paint. The paint is a chalk based product and has no VOCs or any nasty chemicals. This paint covered pattern dried in less than 10 minutes.

For people who have an interest in non toxic paints for kids toys, furniture and rooms; below is a link to the Danish company and the relevant data sheets for all of their products. The colours are available in very bright primary colours and pastel shades. It covers wood in a single coat without the need for primer and I used their matt varnish as a protective overcoat. Highly recommended product but quite expensive.

Finally, the finished job which is a fair proof of concept but not quite as clean an image as I had wanted. I was aiming for a technical drawing like feel but did not quite achieve that look. My ‘very light’ sanding was uneven and I removed a little of illustration by being too heavy handed. On the other hand… this is the start of another skill set development pathway. A big “Thank you!” to all of the people in this thread, who had offered me some sound advice.

I have some pre-stained wood to try the method outlined by @fenrus so another carving and a different technique should be ready for display by tomorrow.

A technical aside is that I checked the belt tension on each rail and they are still not reading differently to the original 135Hz. I had tuned them following the installation of @neilferreri’s belt tension mechanism, ably printed for me by @LiamN. (Thanks guys. :+1: They are working really nicely)


look nice.
if you put a coat of poly on before the paint the sanding goes quicker and is less fragile in terms of going too deep in places by accident

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Thanks Arjan. No poly to hand so I used the matt varnish that came with the kid’s paint. I really want to produce a technical drawing (blueprint style) in wood so that is likely to occupy me for a while. I want to carve clean and very clearly defined lines. This may require a harder wood than poplar and a smaller angled cutter.

Wow nice.
That would also be cool as an advanced Vcarve with a little depth dimension.
Well Done!