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Relief Letters in 0.1" MDF

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  • Relief Letters in 0.1" MDF

    Some call them raised letters or cutouts. I'm not sure what the "Official" term is but, I have a question about creating some.
    I have some 0.1" wood that I'd like to cut names into where, once cut, the letters can be just pushed up and will then be raised and looking pretty (hopefully)
    I'm wondering if there is a chart where I can find the angle of the blade I should have for different thicknesses of materials?
    I have used 3/4" wood with a 4.5 degree angle and seemed to work just fine.
    So, would really appreciate thoughts on what angle I should use for the 0.1" or if that's even possible : )
    Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    I know of no chart that lists the correct angle. The angle depends on the thickness of the wood and the blade used. I test cut until I find the correct angle.

    By the way, welcome to the forum from TN
    ArtCrafters in Dayton, TN


    • #3
      Thanks Sandy.
      I'll give it a few test cuts and see if I can nail it.


      • #4
        In issue 20 of SSW there is a good article on relief cuts. I cut the pattern at the time I was doing lots of lettering and it was a great help.

        Here is the sample that he provided. I only did the side that protruded out at the time.

        PS: I was doing this for names on ribbon holders and it was too time consuming for letters like "O" that I just cut in BB and glued on.
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        This gallery has 1 photos.
        Don McFarland ​Member - Durham Woodworking Club


        • #5
          I haven't had a chance to check out your dilemma, but with wood that's less than 1/8" thick (1/8" = .125) there's very little wood that can protrude and still be anchored within the opening. I'm assuming that you'd be gluing the cutout area into place within the recess. I think Don's suggestion, to cut out the letters from a separate piece and glue them to the background, is a simpler and more secure option.

          But if you want to try, I'd suggest using a very small blade, like 2/0, to minimize the width of the kerf, and using a wire size drill bit to drill the blade entry hole. (The sample chart, which looks like John Nelson's, just shows cutting in from an edge. It does not show how to make the cuts inside the workpiece, which requires a tiny blade entry hole which will be a bear to to hide with such thin wood.

          However, if you're determined, you can try cutting a small circle, starting with 5˚, and see what happens. If it pushes up too much, increase the angle by half a degree. If it doesn't push up enough, then decrease the cutting angle. Remember that to cut a letter that you can push forward so it sits proud, you need to cut in a counterclockwise direction (workpiece to the right of the blade). And be sure to design your letters so you don't have any pieces that will drop out--that would require yet another cut.

          Good luck! Let us know how it works out.


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          • #6
            I did these beveled inlays in my normal ornament stock 1.5mm(.059") it is a Sheila Landry design. I attached a Chart that I created for my inlay calculations. Based on your thickness I would say 4.5 to 5 degrees.

            Doing sample cuts like Don and Carole suggested is important. I have a sample block for thicker woods like what Don showed.
            As Carole said use a 2/0 blade with a High tooth per inch count Like the Olson 2/0 R 28 TPI or I like the Pegas Skip tooth 28 TPI no reverse teeth. I find the Gap between the reverse and down cut teeth annoying in thin wood. Inset tree.jpg Inlay Angle guide.pdf
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            • #7
              This is similar to doing inlay. When inlaying lettering I always use cursive rather than printed or block lettering. It is MUCH more forgiving.
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