Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

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Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:24 pm

Hi Vectric Pros,

I'm a relatively new (hobby) user to Aspire (I've only been playing with a demo and the full product for a few months), but i've figured out how to make plenty of beautiful things already.

However, i'm having trouble in a couple areas I could use advice on. A current hobby project surfaced up the problems more acutely with two techniques i want to be proficient at, but am struggling with: VCarve Inlays, and V-Carve text engraving with smaller letters. Let me explain:

I want to carve a custom wedding tablet for a friend out of a board made of a suitable decorative hard(ish)wood (thinking Cherry, Walnut, Maple, etc. vs plain pine) for durability. I've made a test piece in cherry (see Back/Front pictures, poplar wood inlay of Hippos on the back). While the front is mostly beautiful and the 3D came out nice, I noticed some issues with the Vcarving of the english lettering (~0.18" high capital letters) on the front of the piece, and the inlay I wanted on the back was straight up ugly, so I need some practical advice in both areas.


Here's my approach:

- Setup front of the Job in Aspire, model the 3D components, arrange lettering, etc.
- Calculate 3D tool paths (no problems here)
- Calculate VCarve tool path with default settings with a 0.125" 30 degree bit.

Separately:

- Calc. the V-inlay paths (male and female) carefully following the youtube demo settings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4992bEoNYI (rewatched multiple times). The only deviation I can detect in my setup vs the video is using a 60 degree instead of 90 degree bit, but that should be OK?


Here's my problems:

- I have trouble with the english letters , but not the hebrew here. Particularly the a/e/g letters in the english font used in the PDF I took the vectors from seem to have portions chip out. Additionally, there's a notable degree of tear-out thats damn near impossible to sand out, and looks ugly.

- The inlay seems to "fit", roughly speaking, but when I clamp it and glue it, it seems to leave random large gaps, and in a couple cases, missing the hippo feet. I've done a successful inlay with maple into walnut before, but this poplar-into-cherry one isnt working, and i'm not sure why.


My questions are as follows:

- For the Vcarve text issues... do I need a better font for the english lettering? Suggestions as to what would reduce problems/what to look for (I'm not sure how to choose a "good" font?) ? Or should I use a 60 or 90 degree bit instead of 30? Will that lead to less or more chip out issues? I'm afraid the small lettering won't show up nicely with the shallow 90 degree bit.

- For the VInlay issues: I've previously got a Maple-into-Walnut example to work much better (my only other attempt), but that one had a few minor issues around a couple small /tight features. Is it advisable to sand the male/female parts lightly before fitting to prevent this sort of problem ? Other suggestions as to what could cause such large mis-fits, assuming i'm properly following the guide?

- Is my choice(s) of wood bad? Should I be using something other than Cherry ? Are there rules of thumb about not inlaying a soft furry-tear-out prone wood like poplar into harder wood like cherry that might cause fit issues? Should it be hard-into-hard, or hard into-soft?



Image
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An example that proves that I can get V-inlaying to work.. maple into walnut. There were some small issues here, particularly around the little dots, but it worked MUCH better than what I tried above, as you can see.

Image
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby TReischl » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:39 pm

An ambitious project which looks like it is coming along nicely for the most part.

Obviously the e and g type letters are a problem because there very little left to support those center pieces, so off they go! One solution is to try to cut somewhat shallower. You might even have to cut them very shallow and fill with a coloring of some sort. By the way, that would prevent them from breaking out later.

Not sure what is going with your inlay. Honestly, did not read all of your post. But that is because I rarely do any inlay work. I am sure one of our more knowledgeable inlay folks will be along shortly.
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby randyr » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:58 pm

I think you nailed it when you asked about poplar. Too soft...it looks like parts of the inlay have broken off. You shouldn't have to sand to get them to fit...I just use a soft wire brush to clean up the fuzzies. You might also want to watch grain orientation, such that the grain on both inlay and base are in the same direction. And also consider using a 30-degree V bit for the inlays.

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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby joeporter » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:39 pm

It's really a nice looking plaque as is, except maybe for the hippos. With that much carving on a wooden board, there is just about going to be some chip-out. I have always used a .5" 60 deg. CMT Laser Point bit and run it at .5"/sec. feed and .5"/sec. plunge. And then run it again at the same settings. But, as I said, it is a nice plaque and looks pretty good as is....joe
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:41 pm

randyr wrote:I think you nailed it when you asked about poplar. Too soft...it looks like parts of the inlay have broken off. You shouldn't have to sand to get them to fit...I just use a soft wire brush to clean up the fuzzies. You might also want to watch grain orientation, such that the grain on both inlay and base are in the same direction. And also consider using a 30-degree V bit for the inlays.

randy


Thanks Randy. SOME parts of the inlay clearly broke off, probably while carving it, but were hard to detect somehow. However, the gap around the border of some of the inlay but not other parts leads me to wonder if something else is wrong...

I'm curious why the recommendation on the 30 degree bit? You think a narrower-angle bit will work better for the inlay vs a wider 90 degree bit ? Is it that it's less likely to take off too much out of a soft wood? I would think the steeper angles it puts in would leave it more vulnerable to the inlay chipping out little bits...

Why would grain orientation matter (other than aesthetics) ?
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:55 pm

joeporter wrote:It's really a nice looking plaque as is, except maybe for the hippos. With that much carving on a wooden board, there is just about going to be some chip-out. I have always used a .5" 60 deg. CMT Laser Point bit and run it at .5"/sec. feed and .5"/sec. plunge. And then run it again at the same settings. But, as I said, it is a nice plaque and looks pretty good as is....joe


Yea, the hippos came out horrible on the back sadly. My wood choice in poplar may have been a mistake, and walnut might be better. For the text engraving, I'm using a single flute 30 degree bit like this: Image, whereas for the V-Carve, I'm using a 2-fluted 0.5" 60 degree bit of unknown make, but looks similar to the one on the right here:

Image
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ChiloquinRuss » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:58 pm

A giant "what if here", how about applying some sort of sealer or top coat and then doing the fine carving? If lightly done then allowed to dry it might just hold those 'chips' in place. Second suggestion what if you used a 1/16th tapered ball nose instead of a v bit? Just thinking out loud! :D I like the job so far. Russ
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:02 pm

TReischl wrote: One solution is to try to cut somewhat shallower.


I could effectively do this by using a 60 or 90 degree bit instead of a 30, and still maintain a full "v-carve" effect. Another approach would be to change the font to something more "engraving friendly", but i'm not sure what that would be....
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:06 pm

ChiloquinRuss wrote:A giant "what if here", how about applying some sort of sealer or top coat and then doing the fine carving? If lightly done then allowed to dry it might just hold those 'chips' in place. Second suggestion what if you used a 1/16th tapered ball nose instead of a v bit? Just thinking out loud! :D I like the job so far. Russ


Oh, I like that idea, although it might heat up the bit cutting through the topcoat. I guess I could use Shellac. Unfortunately I'd have to sand it off again, which might be worse than the bit itself, since I plan to stain.. so I think that approach might end up as folly for me. I've thought about using a straight and very tiny bit and not V-carving the letters at all... however, ultimately I think this will leave LESS supporting material around the parts that tend to fly off in the a/e/g and other letters, as the V-profile should give the little pieces more of a wide supporting base instead of just a vertical one.
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby randyr » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:47 am

ablesser wrote:
randyr wrote:I think you nailed it when you asked about poplar. Too soft...it looks like parts of the inlay have broken off. You shouldn't have to sand to get them to fit...I just use a soft wire brush to clean up the fuzzies. You might also want to watch grain orientation, such that the grain on both inlay and base are in the same direction. And also consider using a 30-degree V bit for the inlays.

randy


Thanks Randy. SOME parts of the inlay clearly broke off, probably while carving it, but were hard to detect somehow. However, the gap around the border of some of the inlay but not other parts leads me to wonder if something else is wrong...

I'm curious why the recommendation on the 30 degree bit? You think a narrower-angle bit will work better for the inlay vs a wider 90 degree bit ? Is it that it's less likely to take off too much out of a soft wood? I would think the steeper angles it puts in would leave it more vulnerable to the inlay chipping out little bits...

Why would grain orientation matter (other than aesthetics) ?



Yup...it does look like parts broke off the inlay, but on closer look, it also looks like the base cut is too wide in places. Hard to say why...your parameters should be ok since the walnut/maple one looks pretty good...nice and crisp...no gaps.

This.... http://www.ebay.com/itm/30-degree-angle ... 58eb25ac4c

...is the V-bit I use for inlays and even letter engraving. Once I started using it (from the 60-degree bit I was using), my inlays (and I've done hundreds) were consistently better, particularly those with a lot of fine detail. I was having far less tearout, much cleaner cuts. Maybe my 60-degree bit was dull.

As for grain orientation...well...I suppose it has been ingrained (pardon the pun) in me for so long to align grain, it's just something that stood out. Wood expands the same way along the grain, but these pieces are so small, expansion wouldn't be a problem...so...yeah...just looks better.

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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:12 am

randyr wrote:This.... http://www.ebay.com/itm/30-degree-angle ... 58eb25ac4c

...is the V-bit I use for inlays and even letter engraving. Once I started using it (from the 60-degree bit I was using), my inlays (and I've done hundreds) were consistently better, particularly those with a lot of fine detail. I was having far less tearout, much cleaner cuts. Maybe my 60-degree bit was dull.

As for grain orientation...well...I suppose it has been ingrained (pardon the pun) in me for so long to align grain, it's just something that stood out. Wood expands the same way along the grain, but these pieces are so small, expansion wouldn't be a problem...so...yeah...just looks better.

randy


I've bought stuff from that guy before on eBay too and have been pleased. I just actually ordered both a 60 deg and a 90 deg Whitesides bits via amazon because I know they make good stuff, and I'd like to have a reference point to see if my current bits are the problem. Maybe I'll try that 30 bit out too, but i've already bought so many bits I haven't even used yet :) !


Maybe I need to study this the "scientific" way: Make the same Hippo inlay in some scrap poplar with 3 different angles, and embed them all into the same piece of scrap pine, glue up, shave back, and post results ? For the 60/90 the bit brand would be the same, but not solid carbide, and perhaps of questionable quality (but sharp). For the 30 degree bit, which certainly does seem cleaner, it's a solid carbide bit of seemingly high quality.


Is it possible that my problems come from feeds and speeds ? I'm not exactly a pro at calculating these things and I tend to use Aspire defaults unless it's "too fast". Generally I tend to manually adjust the speed of my router live until the cut quality "looks good" with general guidelines of using near max speed on a small bit with only one cutting face like the 0.125" 30 degree bit mentioned above. For the 60 degree bit, I would cut the speed a good bit to the middle of the router's speed range.
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby martin54 » Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:19 am

I've not really done any inlays so can't help with personal experiences but if you have a spare week or so have a read through this thread on inlays :lol: :lol:
It's something like 23 pages now which is why you will need a week to read it lol

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=564&hilit=vinlay+pdf

The PDF has been used by lots of forum members, some just as it is written & some by making small changes which are mostly mentioned somewhere within that thread.

When it comes to carving small text then you need to slow things right down, experiment a bit with different speeds & feeds just cutting a row of the more problematic letters, how rigid your machine is & how you have it set up will make a big difference, with small text the machine is almost constantly making rapid changes of direction.
You could also try a shallower depth of cut which can help with tear out, it all means extra machining time unfortunately & it looks like you have a fair bit of small text to cut.
Sanding sealer will definitely help as well if there is one available that you can use with a stain, I am quite new to woodwork generally speaking & finishes are something I know little about :oops:

As for what angle bit to use your 30 deg bit should be fine as long as it's sharp, have you tried a different bit? Don't assume that because it is new it will be sharp, I have bought new bits only to find they were blunt, especially at the cheaper end of the market :lol: :lol: You could also try different angles which will either give you a deeper or shallower vcarve, I don't think there is a right or wrong depth for carving text, pretty much down to the look you like unless you are going to infill in which case you would really want a shallow carve to reduce the amount of material required to fill the letters in :lol: :lol:
There are fonts that will carve well & those that won't but looking at what you have posted your selection should be OK.
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby Bob Reda » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:30 am

I think the .5 60 or 90v bit you use for the lettering is too big for letters only .18" high a .25 60v would work better on the letters or even the engraving bit. It doesn't take much for a large bit in a small space to chip out some lettering. As far as the inlay, I never saw the u tube version, I would tell you to read the one in the v carve category that is pinned toward the top. You shouldn't have gaps except where they may be tear outs, but with the way they go together there should be a gap between the inlay and the female pocket that would be part of the engraving, and eliminate the tear out.

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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:34 pm

Bob Reda wrote:I think the .5 60 or 90v bit you use for the lettering is too big for letters only .18" high a .25 60v would work better on the letters or even the engraving bit. It doesn't take much for a large bit in a small space to chip out some lettering. As far as the inlay, I never saw the u tube version, I would tell you to read the one in the v carve category that is pinned toward the top. You shouldn't have gaps except where they may be tear outs, but with the way they go together there should be a gap between the inlay and the female pocket that would be part of the engraving, and eliminate the tear out.

Bob


Thanks Bob!

I actually used a tiny 0.125" 30 degree bit on the lettering, not a 60/90 bit. My impression is that the size of a V-bit at a given angle (say 30/60/90) shouldn't matter, because the angle is the same no matter what. A larger size bit just means a longer/bigger tool effectively, but the end of the tool is exactly the same size/shape where it contacts the wood ! (see illustration, below). Therefore, I would expect little difference between a 0.25" 60 degree bit vs a 0.5" 60 degree bit (assuming the same bit maker, level of quality, etc). Now, the fact that smaller bits tend to get made more in solid carbide (more rigid) with less total runout at the tip.. that may be a factor that you were referring to ?

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 8.30.20 AM.png


With regards to the inlay: I've actually read the whole PDF and understood it from the V-inlay thread, and, as you can see, i've made Inlays work before after failing my first couple trys from not reading carefully enough... so i've "learned the mistakes" (or so I thought). I apparently made some sort of new mistake here, but i'm baffled as to what I did wrong.
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Re: Novice VCarve Inlay and Lettering questions

Postby ablesser » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:44 pm

martin54 wrote:It's something like 23 pages now which is why you will need a week to read it lol
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=564&hilit=vinlay+pdf
The PDF has been used by lots of forum members, some just as it is written & some by making small changes which are mostly mentioned somewhere within that thread.


Yes, I've read that PDF and watched both the old and new videos which were based upon it from Vectric. They're generally excellent guides. Despite following those, i'm still coming up short here.


martin54 wrote:Sanding sealer will definitely help as well


Can you explain how coating with a sanding sealer or shellac, or whatever, will help ? Is it by basically gluing the little wood fibers together with an extra binder that it will help prevent quite as much fragmentation, in the same way that laminated safety glass can help prevent lots of little glass shards on breakage ? I know wood structure is different from glass, but I wonder if the analogy is apt ?

martin54 wrote:As for what angle bit to use your 30 deg bit should be fine as long as it's sharp, have you tried a different bit?


I actually just ordered a couple high-quality Whitesides bits to have a "point" of comparison for V-bits (pun intended).

martin54 wrote:There are fonts that will carve well & those that won't but looking at what you have posted your selection should be OK.

Any tips on what makes a "good font" for small lettering?
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