Weekend Build: Wood Slice Centerpiece using the Inventables X-Carve
Learn how to use Easel Pro and the Inventables X-Carve 1000mm CNC machine to make a custom wedding gift.
After using some wood slices at my wedding as centerpieces and risers, I thought it would have been a great idea if I had time to carve out something custom on them. As is typical for wedding planning, there just wasn’t that sort of time, however, it was still something I wanted to keep in my back pocket for the future. My cousin is getting married early next year and I think this is the perfect opportunity to make a special wedding gift for the newlyweds. With that plan in mind, I set out to use the Inventables X-Carve to carve something out for them.
Materials and Tools
The materials necessary to create this was surprisingly simple and easy to get: the wood slice I found online for cheap (although if you want bonus points, find something from a local lumberyard for that hometown touch), the X-Carve we have in a carving space we set up in the lab, we had a ton of bits already on hand but this project will exclusively use a 90° V-carving bit, some spray shellac to seal the wood, 220 grit sandpaper a paintbrush, and some acrylic paint.
To start off, I’m going to use Inventables Easel Pro to set up the workpiece and the design that I want. Rather than have someone on our Creative Team create the design, I wanted to see what Easel had to offer. I was surprised at the extent of available options within Easel; there was enough there to create a design that I was actually very happy with. I could use different fonts, different designs, and iconography from the library, and adjust them as necessary to get the right spacing.
Since I want to carve a round wood slice rather than a plank, it makes more sense to move the design to be centered around the origin, rather than the origin at the corner of the design. Then all I have to do is mark the center on the circular piece of wood and follow the setup wizard to make sure everything is homed and probed properly.
Using a ruler, I roughly estimated the workable area of the wood slice and created a circle in Easel Pro to act as the stock workpiece, and set the depth to -0.1 inch just so I could see it rendered in the preview. Then I can select the different parts of the design and set their depth. With Easel Pro, I can set a roughing pass and a detailing pass to cut down on carving time, but since I’m going to be using a V carving bit, one pass works just fine.
In Easel Pro, I was guided through the machine setup, like making sure the right tool is selected, the origin is correct, and the material thickness is properly identified. Then using the included clamps and blocks, I could position them on the edge away from where the wood will be cut and sufficient clamping force. The final step is to make sure the dust shoe is attached, the vacuum is on, the router is on, and click start.
The carve only took about 10 minutes to finish and it looked great! I gave the slice a good dusting to make sure there wouldn’t be any dust trapped in the shellac I was going to spray to seal it. I lightly misted three coats of shellac, 5 minutes apart from each other and after an hour of dry time, the last coat was hardened but it raised the wood grain. A quick sanding with 220 grit sandpaper helped remove that and really smoothed out the surface, with one more coat of shellac to bring back the shine.
I wanted to make the carved areas pop and give some contrast to the finished wood slice, and by coating it in shellac first, meant that paint wouldn’t seep into the grain as easily. I used a brush from the craft store and some burgundy acrylic paint to force into the channels. I made sure to work with one feature at a time to make sure that the paint wouldn’t start soaking in, and used a damp paper towel to wipe up the excess, leaving paint in the details. Be careful if you use paper towels, because I found that it would start to fray and leave lint if I pressed too hard; a lint free cloth would work much better.
Once everything was painted and wiped up, I gave everything another 200 grit sanding and sprayed one final coat to protect the paint and give the wood slice a nice shine.
Once that dried, this project was finished! I’m really happy with how this turned out and I’m sure my family is going to love incorporating this into their holiday decorations. Have you made a project like this before, or followed along and replicated this for yourself? I’d love to see it, so be sure to send it my way on social media! Even if you don’t follow along exactly, I’d love to see what you can come up with using the Inventables X-Carve and Easel Pro.