Richlite elephant

Hey folks,

I recently stumbled upon cutting boards made from a peculiar material, they were described as being made from recycled paper and resin. This turned out to be Richlite, and I discovered that Carbide3D already carried it in the store, and that @KevBarn14 had actually done a cool video about it:

I originally discarded it as glorified MDF, but oh boy was I very wrong. This material piqued my interest so I started reading, only to discover that it’s been around for 70 years, has lots of applications, can be used outdoors, etc…

Interesting video on how it’s made:

Anyhow, I needed a break from the lamp project (which starts to feel more like an Ultra-Trail than a walk in the park), so I figured I would get some of C3D’s Richlite sheets, and use that 15° 1/4" vbit I got recently (in my endless quest for the perfect small angle vbit). Cheap as it may be, this one did not disappoint (don’t ask for a link, I can’t find it again…sigh)

I got a nice mandala elephan SVG from Etsy, imported it in VCarve (no reason why it would not work in Carbide Create, but I like my v-carve in VCarve)), then guesstimated feeds and speeds, and those values ended up working great:

Richlite comes with a kinda-leathery surface look, so while I usually run a surfacing pass on my stock before any v-carve job, this time I left it alone, I just surfaced the underlying area of the wasteboard to maximize my chances of having a flat surface to work with. Then mounted the Richlite sheet on the (extra) wasteboard using good old tape and glue:

4hours later, I had a big smile on my face. And that feeling of zeroing off stock bottom and not cutting through the tape during the final profile cut…priceless.

I used a small blade to clean up a few tiny pieces that had gotten stuck in nook and crannies, a few minutes later I got this:

Which I thought deserved a shot in the lightbox:

I’m hooked!


Bit looks like this one, but that one is 10 degrees.

EDIT: Changed the mobile link to regular link.

This link has a similar bit in these dimensions, and they are all about $5/ea for 'muricans (plus shipping, blah, blah, blah)…



Great job with the elephant. I too am a fan of the material. I recently did a topographic cribbage board out of it. The machinability is another huge plus.


Curious about this. I am pretty new so still learning…

What is the benefit of zeroing from the bottom of the stock? I know that means we are basically using the wasteboard as zero, which in theory shouldn’t ever change, so that is a plus if you are using the same bit for everything. but is there more than this? just curious why one would use it over the top? Also love the design looks super clean, definitely gonna have to try that material.

I prefer to use the top of the wasteboard (aka stock bottom) because measuring the thickness of material (wood) is surprisingly hard. Because no matter how good the wood is, it’s just not going to be the exact same thickness everywhere.

It also lets me design things in Carbide Create using the thickness that I want the material to be. What I mean is that I tell Carbide Create the material is 0.75" thick and all the toolpaths go off that measurement. So if the material is actually 0.77 to 0.80 thick because its either not flat or whatever. My first toolpath is set to surface the material from 0.0000 to 0.0001 which basically removes everything above 0.7499. Note: 0.0001 in wood acceptable to me, someday if I get into cutting aluminum this practice might need some revision.


What @ColdCoffee said.

Of course zeroing on top of the stock still has its use, for example when v-carving the top surface (which requires to precisely zero on that surface), and more generally for any job where stock thickness does not matter since you are not cutting through it or do not need it to be a specific thickness after milling.

One handy use is for epoxy jobs where you mill pockets, pour epoxy overflowing the pocket slightly, and then use the machine to surface the epoxy down to original stock surface level. You can zero off stock bottom, run a pre-epoxy surfacing pass at a chosen height, carve pockets and pour epoxy, and then basically just re-run the initial surfacing pass to remove the extra epoxy.

I’ll note that due to my workholding strategy (tape & glue) I don’t actually zero off the wasteboard itself, I put two layers of blue tape on the wasteboard somewhere near the stock, and zero off that. This accounts for the two layers of tape that exist between the wasteboard and the bottom of the stock. I could add some CA glue in-between the two layers of reference-blue-tape to be fully representative of what is under the stock, but that would be splitting hairs.


Hi Julien: A couple or three of questions if I might ask.
When you’re zeroing off of that tape are you still using the old paper method - between the bit and tape?
What is the stiffness/hardness of the Richlite product? Similar to the same thickness of MDF?
What clearance bit did you use, 1/8" or 1/4"? It’s hard to tell how large the piece is at the start and how large those designs are.
Lastly, will your file eventually be made available in the depository?

Your elephant looks fantastic! Very nice job! Thanks for displaying it.


Yes. It is surprisingly accurate.

It’s “much” harder and stiffer (and denser/heavier) than MDF of similar thickness (I don’t know how to characterize this with actual numbers, not my thing, I’m sure someone here can comment). Before I got some, I expected it to be “dense,weather-proof MDF”, but the looks are misleading and this is really not what it is/feels like. It’s quite hard, and therefore also brittle on the thinnest edges (the 90° edges in that elephant project are rock solid, but in my lamp project I have some very acute chamfers, and they don’t like being dropped on the floor…instant chipping).

To give you a sense of scale, the sheet I used here is 13.5" x 11.75"
With that specific elephant vector, a 1/4" would not fit anywhere, and while I did simulate a clearance pass with a 1/8" endmill, many of the individual pockets were too small anyway, so the added value of that clearance pass was very low, I preferred to mill it all with the 15° vbit, since I did not really care about cutting time.

I usually share the files for any project I do, but that vector is from Etsy so I cannot share it (copyrights etc). There is really nothing special to the CAD/CAM in this project, I literally just went to Etsy, searched for cool mandala-style vectors, purchased that one for a $5, imported it in VCarve, select all, create v-carving toolpath, fill in the feeds and speeds, done. 10min CAD, 4hour carve. Very different feeling from my lamp project where I’m on revision 89 in Fusion with no end in sight :slight_smile:

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I fully expected a complete project with a thorough write-up with pictures of preparation, setup and then execution of the hair splitting… :rofl: :rofl: :innocent:


Thank you very much for the replies Julian!
I will try and find the elephant on Etsy! I have some friends from India that I think would like that design.

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FYI that’s the one


I have been going crazy on Etsy. I see all these amazing designs and think, “duh… why should I re-create the wheel”.
But I’m curious, a lot of them have 'unlimited personal or commercial use" on them. It’s this really true?

I don’t sell anything, so I’ve never been in a position to worry about that, I couldn’t say.
50% of Etsy vectors are probably of dubious origin anyway :slight_smile:
I just know that I feel ok paying someone $5 for a great vector and the piece of mind of being able to use it for my personal use with some level of confidence that I don’t infringe on anyone’s copyrights

You just said you don’t sell anything so you’re probably not the person to answer this question…

I go to craft fairs and farmers markets (because I might like to get into that market) and see people selling clearly copyrighted/ trademarked stuff, (Disney, Harley, various alcohols, sports teams, college and professional, etc).

I ask “how can you do this without getting into trouble?” I get answers of, “they aren’t selling them, it is donation based”. Or they have some trinket, a keychain for example, and they say, “you aren’t buying that Disney piece, you are buying this keychain and the Disney piece is a gift.”
Is this truly legal?
Maybe this is the wrong place for this question, maybe it should be in the general forum so more people would see it. Feel free to move it if you think so…

No, it’s not legal.

The relevant legal concepts are trade dress and trademark and copyright, with fair use applying to personal non-commercial use.

(I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, merely a layman’s statement of his understanding of the legal concepts/terminology)

The community has some links to sites which should be legitimate for offering images:


Thanks Julien!! I went directly to that design and grabbed a copy, paid of course.

To answer some of the questions about USE of this particular item - it came with a long list of Do’s & Dont’s about personal and commercial use - A LICENSE - detailing what you can & cannot sell. And to whom the credits go to and when.

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Richlite seems a tad expensive. I was looking at some Richlite fingerboard blanks and found that they were priced at or above the price of ebony.


Yes, ahem. I don’t want to come off as sounding negative, but the whole Etsy business is actually ethically dubious.

Several years ago I designed and built a laser-cut plywood dollhouse for my daughter (Dollhouse built from laser-cut plywood). Several people E-mailed me asking for plans, and I provided them, happy to help other makers. Then I started finding those same plans for sale on Etsy, additionally using my (very clearly copyrighted) photos of the completed dollhouse.

That’s when I learned that Etsy makes it really difficult to report copyright violations. Trying to report it to them took me through a questionnaire which ended nowhere, basically telling me to contact the seller and work it out with them. They don’t want anything to do with it. Since this whole thing made me rather angry, I did try to “work it out” with several sellers. Some complied, some ignored me, and I gave up eventually, because the design would pop up again after several months.

The problem with Etsy is that they are making a profit on sales of copyrighted material, but refusing to participate in the costs of enforcing rules and hunting thieves.

Sorry for the negativity — this is a side note, because I think more people should be aware of the problem. On a more positive note, I’ve been finding good and inexpensive designs on — though these days I’m careful to check the sellers and see if they seem to be artists that post multiple designs with a consistent theme, rather than resellers of other people’s work.


Have you tried contacting a lawyer who specializes in copyright?

I suspect spending a couple of hundred (might be as much as a grand or more in some markets) should result in a letter which Etsy will be forced to respond to.

At a minimum you could demand contact information and sue the folks in question in small claims court and get a judgement.

Hmmm… that’s a fairly broad stroke. Some of it isn’t ethically dubious.

You should proceed with your issues and fully follow the course of action here: Intellectual Property Policy - Our House Rules | Etsy

which incidentally is much more hands-on and helpful sounding than here: