Introduction: Plywood Mandala Carving Without CNC Machine

About: Maker guy with a lot of love for paper and cardboard. Recently also working with recycled plastics. other related interests are photography, youtube, recycling, etc :-)

Hello Hello! :-)

Spotted the plywood contest and really loved to think of a cool project that would use the many layers of this type of wood. I wanted to make something graphical where the layers will create extra detail. I don't have the ability to CNC something organic so I wanted to try and make something nice out of circles so I could use my milling machine. For this reason I came across Mandala shapes and planned to make one of these. I used a V-shaped milling bit so the layers will be easily exposed. The mandala can't be made very small because of restrictions on the minimum distance of the milling machine and the center pen so I made one that's roughly 52cm in diameter.

Hope you enjoy this tutorial! :-)


plywood panel at least 60 x 60 cm and 18mm thick
drilling machine + drills
milling machine with rotation tool
V-shape milling bit (16mm wide)
clamps for holding the wood in place
straight milling bit for removing the drawing out of the panel
sanding paper

Step 1: Use the Template to Mark All the Center Holes

Print out the template in A3 (Europe) sized paper or on Tabloid 11'x17' (US) sized paper.
Other option is to lasercut/engrave the laser cutting file.

Get your plywood panel (at least bigger than 60x60 cm) and mark the center. Use your template to mark all the holes that you need for making the mandala. Drill these holes so you can screw the center pen of your milling machine in there. You need to drill all the way because you will mill a lot of the wood away and won't be able to find the marked hole anymore.

Step 2: Start With Milling the 6 Circles of Fase 1

make sure the max depth of your circles are all equal by using your max depth adjuster on the milling machine. Also important is to rewind the milling machine a full circle after completing a circle of milling. This prevent that the thread on your center pen will lift the machine after a few rounds :-)

Step 3: Continue With 6 More Circles in Fase 2

Round and round we go for fase 2! :-)

Step 4: Screw the Center Rotation Pen in the Middle and Finish Last 2 Circles.

mount the center pen in the middle hole and first carve the small circle. Afterwards change milling bit into the straight one and think of a nice outline where to cut out your shape. Mill in several steps the outer contour. In the last step, skip on a few places the milling path so the shape will not drop out of the panel when completed. I cutted these final bridges with a sharp knife.

Step 5: Remove From the Plywood Panel and Sand Down Any Deviations

time to clean up the final details of your work. Use sandpaper to clean the grooves.

Step 6: Hang on Your Wall! :-)

ready to shine on your wall! :-) and time to enjoy these plywood layer details

Plywood Challenge

Runner Up in the
Plywood Challenge