Resin-Ivory engraving

This is Resin-Ivory engraved on a Nomad Pro. The substrate is an epoxy resin slab designed as a substitute for ivory offering the distinct smell of fiberglass when sanded. It cuts well and engraves well enough although not hard enough for super detail. (That said, the photo is about 3.3 times actual size.)

The artwork, also my avatar on this site, was used for a jewelry box I made for my niece before I got the Nomad; I had to do all the inlay and engraving by hand. Wish I’d had the Nomad back in my days as a luthier.

This was done with a 30° (overall) carbide drag bit with 0.60 mm of compression.


Inspiring, something I want to try now, thanks for posting!

40 hours of design, 10 minutes of CNC!

If you use ink, apply it and sand smooth before cutting the contour to prevent lines near the edge from thinning out.

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If you’re interested in natural ivory alternatives that don’t smell like fiberglass when sanded, perhaps look into tagua nut, also called corozo. It’s sometimes termed “vegetable ivory” due to its similarity in texture and density to animal ivory. It’s fairly cheap to source from the likes of eBay in rough-cut slices and machines very well on a Nomad.

One of the traditional uses for tagua is to make apparel buttons. The only downside to it is that the nuts themselves only get so large, and there’s a natural void in the center of each one that one must work around. Still, you can get some quite good results from them.


May also be available from your local Woodcraft:

I still have about a pound of these nuts left over from 45 years ago. Size and color-wise, I’ve found them of limited use for inlay. I’ve used them for hops in a fretboard and some will appear as pinecones in a piece I’m currently finishing.

It’s true that they machine well and engrave about the same as the faux ivory. It’s good you recommend availability as slices, they’re scary to run through a bandsaw.

Did you make the buttons? They appear dyed , if so what kind of dye and how much penetration?

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I sure did! Made them on my Nomad 3. They were dyed using Procion MX dyes, which the tagua takes very well. Penetration does depend somewhat on how long they’ve been in the dye bath. Maybe half a millimeter or more after 2 days in the dye, but we take it slow as to not overshoot and possibly ruin the buttons. It’s fairly durable color, scratches and such that the buttons pick up don’t show any white.

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