Introduction: Layered Wood Plaque

This Instructable describes how to make a layered wood plaque using a CNC. I use a Carvewright CNC and Carvewright Designer software, but the technique can be used with other machines and software.

This type of plaque is currently popular with newly married couples to commemorate their wedding day. Often you will see these made from a single board, with the lettering painted in contrasting colors. I'm a terrible detail painter, so I used this technique to avoid painting yet yield an attractive result.

Supplies that you'll need are:

  • A board for the base/background - I used 3/4" oak.
  • Veneer - I used 1/8" thick black walnut and hickory
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Clear finish - I used satin lacquer

If not available locally, veneer is readily available from many online sources.

Of course you'll need a CNC machine and software.

Step 1: Layout

Begin by laying out your project using your CNC design software.

I drew an oval for the outline of the board, and a smaller one inside to create a "fame". I set the depth of this background carve region to .275" deep. Next, add the text. For the last name and date, I set the depth of the surface of the lettering to .140". For the first names, I set the surface of the letters to 0 depth.

There's a bit of artistry that is helpful when choosing the type, size, and placement of letters. You want to be sure that the upper layer first names do not block the last name below, so that the last name letters are not concealed and readily readable.

The depths chosen depend upon the thickness of the veneer - in my case the veneer is .125". The depths are set to slightly more than the thickness of one and two layers of veneer. More on this later.

Notice that I defined carve regions (dotted lines) around the text that completely contain the text. These will be used in the next step.

Save your design, and also save a copy.

Step 2: Veneer Area

With the copy, delete the text and background carve region. Select the regions around the text and assign a carve region that is .25" deep, or double the thickness of your veneer. This is the area where the veneer will be placed. Save your design.

Step 3: Prepare the Board for Veneer

Machine the board using the veneer area design.

Step 4: 1st Layer Veneer

Cut the first layer of veneer to fit inside the carve region. It doesn't have to be an exact fit, so you may cut by hand or use your CNC. Coat the prep region and veneer with wood glue., and then clamp. I used scrap wood to cover the veneer and several wood clamps. Let that set.

Step 5: 2nd Layer Veneer

Cut and glue the second layer of veneer on top of the first.

Step 6: Finish Machining

With the prep work done, run the second project to complete machining.

If you got the depths right, you should have a nice layered look.

Step 7: Sand and Clear Coat

Sand as needed and apply a clear finish. I like laquer because it dries fast and does not require sanding between coats. I like to apply several coats by brush, then I do sand or use steel wool on the last brushed coat. Finally I apply the last coat with a spray can for a nice smooth finish.

CNC Contest 2020

Participated in the
CNC Contest 2020