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How to Put an Image on a Piece of Wood Using Your Longmill

Hey guys, check out our latest tutorial for your LongMill!

Taking images (JPEGs and other bitmap images) and carving them into wood and other materials is an awesome way to make signs and other projects. In this video, we’ll be walking through the steps on how to turn an image found on the web, making a v-carving, and carving it into a piece of material.

The description below covers some additional information that may not be covered in the video if you want to do some extra reading.

Links to software:

—Note: I personally use Inkscape and Carbide Create to do projects like these. There are many alternatives that you can use. Some programs that can also turn images into carvings include Easel and F-engrave. Your process and results may vary.

Tooling for v-carving:

A general purpose 60 degree or 90 degree v-bits for routering are quite easy to find, especially at your local woodworking or hardware store. If your project has a lot of wide lines, then typically a wider bit, like the 90 degree v-bit, would be preferred, as you don’t have to cut as deep to get a wide line. On the other hand, if your project has a lot of thin lines, using a narrower bit, like the 60 degree v-bit, can be a better option, as you can get a little more detail, and more contrast in the carving since it cuts deeper.

Speeds and feeds:

The general settings used in the video work well for most woods, but you should have a lot of headroom to play with on the LongMill if you choose to boost your speeds and feeds.

One other factor that can play a role in your cut time is your retract height. You may choose to lower your retract height to speed up your cut as well. 

Material prep and finishing:

You will get the best results with material that is flat. This is because the variance in your material’s thickness can also cause variance in the width of your lines for your v-carving. 

Having a contrast between the surface of the material and inside of the cut is important in ensuring that your carving is visible. For this particular project, I used melamine covered particle board, which has a reasonable contrast between the top white layer and the underlying brown particle board. Some methods of increasing contrast can be pre-painting the surface (paint outside of the cut), painting and sanding the surface (paint inside the cut), or choosing materials that have contrasting layers or surfaces (such as with color core HDPE)

Ideas and further learning:

You can use the first technique of turning images into vectors for a large number of other projects, such as with contour carving. If you have sketched artwork or hand-drawn pictures, you can also use photos of those items, as long as they have white backgrounds and are mono-colored.