Success V-Carving Word Art Vectors
Not so long ago, owning or having access to a CNC router, was not common. Economically priced CNC routers are now available in a wide variety of sizes and with varying capabilities. Many projects can be made with these hobby size CNC routers, but V-carving word art still seems to be a favorite. With this technique you can create beautiful wood crafts.
As with any project, the first step is to choose a design that is either a vector or can be converted into a vector. This is the point where your design can start to go wrong, as there are several things to consider when v-carving.
Understanding the relation between angle and width of cut
Before picking out a vector to V-carve, it is important to understand how the angle of the bit and the width of cut are related. Common bit sizes that are used include 45°, 60° and 90°. The degree of the bit refers to the angle at the tip. Narrow lines or fine details are more defined with a 45°, whereas a 90° bit would be best when the areas are wide. As you can see in the picture below, the 45° bit almost cuts through the wood. In this case the 90° would make a shallower cut while still giving the nice V-shaped groove.
Picking the right design for your V-carving projects
Once you understand how the width of the design and the degree of the bit can affect your carve, you can start looking at vectors that might provide good results. When considering word art designs, large lettering may need to be carved with a 90° bit and smaller lettering could be carved in a separate toolpath with a 60° bit.
In this example above, the larger, thick letters were carved with a 90° bit and the flower and remaining letters were carved with a 60° bit. The results gave a similar carving depth and kept the details in the finer areas.
Node editing to improve the end result
The most challenging situation occurs when a vector cannot be split into separate toolpaths like the previous example was. Vectors will carve best when there are not extreme differences in the line width.
Example #1 would require a bit with a wider angle for the thick parts but the really fine portions would have minimal depth. Example #2 would give a more uniform carve. Depending on your software, you may be able to do node editing to adjust the widths within your design. Node editing will allow you to change a vector quite a bit, but depending on the file you choose, it may be a lengthy process to improve the carve.
Speaking of node editing, it is important to double check your vector before creating the toolpath. Look at the outline of the vector to see if there are irregularities, overlaps or even jagged edges. Some nodes may need to be deleted, moved or edited. Nodes like these can cause a v-carve to fail or have a rough appearance.
Node editing can take some time but is well worth the effort. The toolpath generated by your software uses every little node to adjust the travel of the bit accordingly. Rough vectors generate rough results.
Example of a carved vector with irregular or rough nodes.
V-carving can produce amazing results that are very pleasing. It really is not hard when you understand the bit angle and have a quality vector to work with. Have fun and be safe. Always wear hearing and eye protection when using your CNC!