Epoxy plaques with recesses for crests

I used a LowRider V2 to make these two plaques for colleagues leaving our institution.

I debated trying to carve something like the crests, but realized I really liked having the texture and vibrant colour of the woven crests. The LR made it easy to inset the crests in a shallow carve so they were recessed into the plaque.

Carvings were a mix of 60 degree and 20 degree end mills, with a 1/8" upcut for the flat regions for the crest insets. Inkscape and EstlCAM were used for the design and gcode generation.

Sequence was:

  1. Flatten the twist out of the boards with a 1" slab flattening bit, run on both sides. (I don’t have planer, but this works.)
  2. Carve the letters, border, and crest insets.
  3. Spray 2 quick coats of canned lacquer, focusing on the carved regions, to limit bleed-out when the epoxy was poured in.
  4. Pour in epoxy with black colouring. Overfill so all the epoxy regions are proud of the surface.
  5. Use the 1" flattening bit to remove the excess epoxy almost down to the wood surface.
  6. Sand, sand, sand. I went down to 320 with a random orbit sander.
  7. Apply Osmo Polyx Oil finish, two coats, using a piece of lint-free cloth.
  8. Once the finish dried, smooth out the finish with sanding by hand with a fine sanding cloth/pad; I used a Mirka 400 grit pad.

Things I’d like to improve next time:

  • The left plaque with the narrower font ended up with little wood ‘tags’ in the epoxy. I should have buff-wheeled the carving more, or just chosen a smoother/wider font to make the edges easier to clean up before the epoxy.
  • The border on the left plaque gave a nice framing, so I’d like to keep that design element for other plaques. The lines were so thin though that with wood variability the widths don’t quite look the same thickness everywhere. It’s not bad, but could be cleaner.
  • Still figuring out the mechanics for the sanding and finish application. I found I still saw swirls on the wood after the Osmo was applied, even though I had worked progressively through the grits and looked with a raking light before I applied the finish. For the finish, where I was doing both the front and back, there was inevitably one little bulb of finish that ran down from one surface to the back, and then hid when I ran I around the edges with a dry cloth to try to take up all the excess…

I really like these!

I like the woven crests both colour and texture wise, although I did start wondering what they would look like with a clear resin pour over the top too?

They might look like enamel, or they might look terrible - get back to me when you try! :rofl: :rofl:

There are fifty gazillion experts on the internet who will advise how to get rid of swirl marks.

I’m not one of them, so don’t listen to me, but … try moving your sander a little faster, and use good quality sandpaper.
Clean between grits, use a little water (or use alcohol) after each grit to raise the grain a little and you can check for swirl marks too.

Go down to 240 with the sander and hand sand the final grit in the direction of the grain.

My preference for something of this size would be to use a really sharp hand plane and no sandpaper.

I feel your pain! :smiley: I tend to finish the back entirely before doing any work at all on a face that will be exposed, then there’s only one side (and edges) to worry about although those drips still turn up. That may not be the way the pros do it, but it works for me!

Ah: good idea. I think I need to do more about the cleaning. I twigged a bit that there was noticeable wood dust when I handled the pieces during grit changes, but didn’t think too much about it.

I wish my planer-fu were good enough for that. I have a hand plane that would have been the right size for this project, but need to find a day to gather and use a sharpening system to make the blade useful again. In the blade’s current state, it leaves the piece worse off than when I started…

Thanks for the the advice!

Oooh: I really like that idea! If the epoxy could be poured clear and bubble free, that could really look sharp.