The sign above is not only a two stage carve but also a relief-cut. That is: it’s removing stock to reveal the design, and not just carving out the letters. Let’s get started on getting something like this carved out. Note: Some links my contain affiliate links.

If you’re looking for detailed instructions for two-stage carving in Easel,  jump over here.

1. Mill up your lumber.

The success of any project starts with good planning and square stock. I go over milling lumber over here.

2. Pre-sanding prior to two stage carving

The best workflow tip I have is to sand and/or paint prior to any work on the x-carve. Most of my projects are made from solid wood; mostly cherry or walnut.

When I sand I like to use pencil marks to track my progress. Once the pencil marks are gone, that grit is finished. Then I’ll repeat through to 220. The reason behind pre-sanding is to prevent the sander from destroying my design if there are smaller sections of material left that can easily break off.

I don’t know how many times I’ve frustrated myself with trying to sand away swirl marks after the board is cut…I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it!

Reference Points and the X-Carve

I made an mdf bracket that I attached to the lower left of my waste board so that I always have the same reference spot on any of my carves. So if I mistakenly move the gantry by hand, I just re-home and am at the same starting point.

Z-Probe Locations

When determining where to place your z-probe you’ll want to make a note if it’s different than your homing position and use that same location after your bit change. This will ensure the same depth of cut on your detail bit.

Specific Location

Sometimes during a relief cut you have to plan ahead for your bit change and where to place your z-probe. In the picture below, you’ll see that I’ll have to place the z-probe on the state of WV for the 2nd bit as anywhere the first bit cut won’t produce the proper depth and the detail bit will cut too far into the material.

So I’ll measure out in Easel where the WV design will be and place the z-probe in that location for both bits. Here, I would choose right 13″, and up 3″. This will ensure both bits are adjust for the same depth.

Finishing Your Project

Now on to the final sanding, painting and any type of finish you prefer to apply for your project!

As you can see in the picture below planning ahead and consistent z-probe placement is essential to a great end result. Hopefully, you learned something here and take your projects to the next level!

Examples of Two Stage Carving

You can download and play around with the file for the McCarty sign above. The best way to get into two stage carving is to get your feet wet and your hands dirty! Play around and try it on some scrap wood, first.

If you’re looking into getting a CNC, check out Inventables.

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