July 2, 2021

How to Build a Wood Carving Duplicator

Wondering How to build a wood carving duplicator? I have been wood carving for a few years now, and I have done quite a few projects, but I have always been puzzled by the process of duplication. I have seen many videos and read many articles, but I never felt like the information I was reading would help me duplicate my wood-carved projects.

Constructing the duplicator

Choose a design of your choice before you gather your material. As you choose the wood design, you will be looking at the z-axis, the type of work bed you want, and the locking lever you wish to use to adjust the cutting depth. Collect your thrust bearings. 

CNC 4th Axis Attachment

The thrust bearing is a type of rotary bearing that allows rotational parts to support an axial load. Cylindrical thrust roller bearings have cylindrical rollers arranged flat with axes pointing to the axis of the thrust bearing. They come in multiple variations and consist of bearing balls supported in a ring. 

Calculate the length of the roller, width, and angle for the correct taper. They should accommodate radial and axial loads and misalignment of the shafts. Use a hand drill or a drill press. 

The materials needed include a screwdriver, plywood, stainless steel pipe, pipe clamp, and wood screws. The tools include safety wear, hand drill, miter saw drill press, pipe cutter, drill bits, tape measure, ruler, and router bits. 

Purchase a duplicator

Wood carving duplicators come at different models and prices that you have to consider. There is a need to evaluate what your projects require to go for the perfect duplicator, and the designs you want determine the type of duplicator you need. 

High-quality duplicators come with competitive prices, and that is why you have to make inquiries before you purchase one. Look for quality products and verify the suppliers if you are buying online. The type of processing that comes with the tool is of utmost importance.

Copy the wood carving

The wood carving duplicator re-creates any pattern of your choice. It involves the carving process with your router with a shop-built fixture. Using a compact router on a counterbalanced carriage assembly, the recreational process is detailed on your wood material. That is how a replica of the original wood carving comes. The router bit follows the path of a stylus that allows you to trace the original. 

Making the carving

There are four types of wood carving: whittling, relief carving, carving in the round, and chip carving. Choose the style you intend to work with based on the wood carving you want, and research the kind of style before you start working on it. 

Whittling involves the use of a whittling knife for sharp and angular strokes. Relief carving involves carving figures into a flat wooden panel. The carving in the round uses multiple tools to create a sculptor, and chip carving uses knives, chisels, and hammers. 

Purchase the appropriate carving knife. Choose wood from labeled and high-quality wood. You consider sharpness, ease of grip, and rigidity. Get multiple gouges and chisels. Practice the cuts on scrap wood as you learn how to hold the knife properly. 

Carve along the grain since cutting against the grain leads to splinters. Put on your safety wear and sketch designs using a pencil and clamp the wood onto the table. Cut the basic shape, use u-gouges to remove excess material, and switch to smaller tools for finer details. Protect the finished piece using wax or oil.

Engraving the wood

Step 1: Cut out wood shapes

You do not just start cutting wood shapes. Practice basic cuts before you start. Sketch the design using a pencil. You will be sketching the intended woodcuts and gouges before you start using your tools. 

The lines sketched give you guidelines and make the work accurate. If you are to make mistakes, they are on the tool slipping off, not a miscalculation. If you make mistakes, alter your original plan or start over with new wood. 

Secure the wood as you clamp it onto the table. That frees both hands and puts them to use in the cutting process. Cut the basic shape, removing more material as you stick to the design of the original carving. 

For small pieces, use knives and chisels to cut the shape, and for large wood, pieces use a band or chain saw. Do not cut past your sketched guidelines as you make yourself comfortable in your cutting position. 

Step 2: Connect wood shapes using dowels.

Doweling strengthens wood joints and comes as a round, cut wood stick inserted into matched holes. Glue the wood pieces in place as it becomes a durable working joint. 

You can use mechanical fasteners in substitute for dowels, and doweling remains a robust and straightforward process. The diameter of the dowel to be used is not more than 1/2 inch width of the board. 

There are holes to accommodate the dowels. You are allowed to purchase dowels or make your own. Drill your holes as you align the two boards, use a minimum of two dowels for each joint and use the rule of the thumb. 

Mark the desired locations on both boards using a pencil and separate the boards. Install the drill bit and drill your first hole. Align the holes and install the dowels.

Step 3: Attach rubber bands

Rubber bands are attached to clamp down the wood. That brings regular shapes to the wood, and you need a Y-shaped stick that supports the rubber bands. The rubber bands come from an inner tube or an old leather shoe, and the rubber bands have to be attached to the handle.

Step 4: Attach woodblocks to the base

Gather your wood pieces and cut them into squares. You are allowed to use offcuts from previous projects. Sand each side that will have glue and rough sanding works, and the sandpaper has to be coarse so that the pieces stick easily. 

The grain of the wood changes and spreads the glue on both surfaces. Get rid of dust particles before you apply glue. Work fast on the glue stage so that it does not dry before use. Attach the wood pieces and make sure each side is glued. Leave the wood for 24 hours. 

What type of wood to use

Choose softwood that is labeled and of high quality from a craft store or trusted wood supplier. You cannot just pick random wood from the forest and start carving. Basswood butternut and white pine are ideal for beginners. 

They are softwoods that are easy to cut and carve. Basswood has a finer grain that guides you when carving, and the white pine has a fine grain. Mahogany has medium grains and is a bit harder, and that means it is a bit difficult to carve but makes durable carvings. 

It requires professional use. Cherry, maple, and oak are hardwoods that are hard to carve. Cherry and maple have fine grains, and they produce perfect finishing pieces. 

Which grinders to use

A grinder has to be durable and compatible. Assess the applications certain tool grinders are good at and take the one that suits your interests. A tool grinder should finish your project by recognizing the demands of your current and subsequent projects. 

A grinder that focuses on your workpiece serves your needs. The Bosch grinder is lightweight and powerful, and that makes it ideal for hardwoods. 

Which type of drill bits to use

Drill bits come in multiple variations and shapes, which helps you lay out what each bit is good at. The needs of the object attract a type of bits. There are course bits for roughing, and that is at the beginning of the process. 

Bits for sanding come in different shapes and give you the final touches of your project. Saburr tooth bits are coarse bits roughing material, and fluted bits are less aggressive, and diamond bits finish the final smoothing out of your work. That leaves you with an even piece.

What types of files to use

A rifler comes with a grip on an area between the cutting edges, and it works in tight spaces and comes in oval, triangular, square, and round shapes. A rasp works on coarse shaping of wood, and it is a hand tool that comes with a rectangular case of hardened steel. 

They finish off roughly sanded wood and make your work easier. Mill files sharpen flat-bladed tools, and taper saw files sharpen wood saw teeth. Veneer knife files cut veneer, and the double-ended saw files sharpen saw blades. Cant saw files work on irregular teeth, and chain saw files sharpen blades. Flat files smooth out rough edges, and square edge joint files cut on edges only.

Which types of sandpaper to use

60-80 grit sandpaper is more versatile since it removes excess material, smoothens rough edges, and even out the surface. It also removes paint and polish. Rough sandpaper is not ideal for wood carving since it does not remove roughness. Pay attention to the grit labeled at the back of your sandpaper. Use a grit sandpaper chart if you are not sure.

Final Thoughts

Wood is a natural, renewable resource, and you can use it for various purposes such as furniture, cabinets, carvings, and other household objects. In addition to being used as a building material, wood is also used in the wardrobe industry for making clothes. 

Although wood is a great resource, it is not easy to work with. One of the least difficult ways to work with wood is by carving it. Carving wooden objects is difficult, but it is not impossible. To carve wooden objects, one must have the proper equipment. This is where the wood carving duplicator comes in handy. This machine is used to make sure that the objects being carved are done correctly. A computer runs the machine. You may also want to see our post on How to Date Wood Carvings.

David D. Hughes
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