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Thread: Engraving small letters for cribbage boards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Buckley, WA

    Engraving small letters for cribbage boards


    I'm making a few cribbage boards for Christmas gifts. Yes, I know... I'd better hurry up. It took longer to get my router mounted than I thought it would. I'm wondering if people here have had experience with routing small lettering in hardwood. The woods I'm using are birds-eye maple and lacewood at the moment. I have ordered some "V" shaped engraving bits (90 and 120 deg.) and collets from precise bits and have a porter cable router mounted to my industrial hobbies CNC mill. The lettering will be fairly shallow.

    I need to infill the letters with color too. The lettering will be about 1/8" high.

    Does anyone have experience doing this? I worry about ink bleed into the wood and the order of how to finish the wood that has ink in the letters.
    Not to mention, tear-out and feeds/speeds, etc. I have no idea what kind of ink/paint to use.

    I appreciate any advice.

  2. #2
    You might want to look at 60 or even 45 bits for doing very small letters.

    You might want to finish the wood before engraving. This will both help the color from bleeding, and help prevent tearout as well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Atlanta Ga
    I personally use an Onsrud or an Amana InGroove tool, but a lot of people have reported very good results from 60 Laser Point Bits from CMT.
    They report a good finish even with figured woods, and they are very available both online and bricks & mortar stores. A very sharp bit is important for any small lettering, I did waste some time and materials with a dull bit giving me mediocre results.

  4. #4
    Hi Randy

    The boards we make are finished then screen printed. But you
    are engraving so I think you would try to fill, let it dry and sand
    the top of the board. Then you finish over the top of the paint.

    I think just spray paint would work if you mask most of the board?

    As for lettering I use a spot drill 90 degree at most. 7k to 10k RPM
    if it burns your too slow, if it chips speed it up. I have done it in wood
    and aluminum.

    Hopes this helps

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Suwanee, GA
    Find someone with a laser and you'll be much happier with the results. Unless your board is absolutely flat, and the router is trammed perfectly, and the bed is absolutely parallel to the path of the router, you won't get great results with lettering, especially if the letters are small. None of that matters with a laser, not as much anyway. I don't know where you are in Washington compared to Eugene Oregon, but I could laser them for a pretty reasonable price.

    I have done so much with so little for so long, that I can do almost anything with practically nothing...

    Trotec Speedy 400 80 watt 8/2015
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 1/2016
    G. Weike LF-30, 30 watt galvo fiber - 3/2015
    DCS-1024DD - 10" x 24" UV Printer
    Fargo HDP5000 Card printer
    40HP Diesel, Rotary screw compressor - "The Beast"
    24" x 40" sandblasting cabinet

  6. #6



    I'm on Fox Island and have an Epilog 32 laser. I can help you if you need it.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Buckley, WA

    Thanks all

    Well, being blissfully ignorant, I'm going to dive in and give it a try with a router. Now I know to tram well and flatten the stock well. These are for family so they would probably be happy even if I used MDF so I don't need perfection.

    Tempting to get them lasered though. Fox Island is pretty close by. I like the crisp look it brings. I'm mainly a do it yourself-er / techno-geek. A few years ago, I bought a used 100W flowing CO2 laser that I have not put to work yet. Someday...maybe after the big CNC router project is tackled.

    I'll get back to you with the results of my build.

    Great group here. I hope I can contribute back at some point.

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