Edge Options


(1) Straight Cut ;        (2) Edge Trimmed;      (3) Edge Extended (sharp points on surface corners);

Each font has variations in the way it can be carved, and depending on the options selected, the final product may end up looking a little different, (sometimes more bold), than what you expected based on the font you picked.

The software we use that generates the patterns for cutting out a letter or number has some complicated algorithms that give us a few options for how the final piece will end up looking.

Option 1: Square Cut

The most basic option (1) is to simply cut straight down along the perimeter of the font shape. In that case the final product matches the original font exactly.

Option 2: Edge Trimmed

The next option (2) is to use a V shaped bit to route/trace along the edge of what has been cut out, giving the products a beveled edge and a slightly skinnier appearance at the face.  This option has limitations however in the sense that the software can not calculate well how to cut inner corners;  generally speaking, all inner corner bevels end up having a radius (usually 1/4″), no points are made.

Option 3: Edge Extended

The third option (3) is a little more complicated, but it effectively uses a V bit in a 3D manner to pull those radial beveled corners to nicer looking points. Unfortunately, however this algorithm starts with the V bit trenching around the perimeter of the font, with the deepest part of the trench extending 1/4″ from the edge of the font. In this case, we first scale the font size down by 1/2″ to compensate for the extension around the edges. The straight bit then cuts around the V bit trench, but the overall effect is that the end product looks bolder than the original font.

So another way of putting it is that the silhouette of an 8″ letter or number from option 2 leaves you with something pretty close to the 8″ font you chose. The face of an 8″ letter or number created by method of option 3 matches more precisely the same letter or number of a font size of 7.5″.

It should be noted that option 3 takes longer than option 2 which takes longer than option 1 to make.

Option 4 (NEW): Sharp Edge Trimmed

We have recently purchased new software which allows us to easily create a fourth option, similar to the Edge Trimmed option, except that now, both inside and outside corners can be brought sharply to a point, similar to the inside corners of the Edge extended option.  This works nice for thicker fonts like “Ultra”. We have also decided to limit the diameter of the cutout endmill bit to 1/4″ to help maintain a faster cutout time and thus a price to match the Edge Trimmed option (except in some cases, especially with 6″ characters, where 1/8″ gaps are really necessary to define the overall shape).

(4) “Sharp” Edge Trimmed with sharp inside corners.

A fifth option would be to simply make straight cuts (like option one) then use traditional routing bits with a handheld router to make various beveled edge shapes around the perimeter, but this has serious limitations when it comes to inside corners, and we generally do not offer this as an option because of those limitations. A sixth option would be to spend a lot of time programming the machine to make some very specialized custom 3D cuts to clean up the inside corners after option 2, but frankly, that’s just not very practical…

The point of this article however is that translating a 2D font into a 3 Dimensional object is not as straight forward as you might think. If you want any sort of beveled edge on your numbers or letters, then you will have to decide which of these options you prefer.

Our recommendations are these:

For all stock ~1/4″ thick or less:

Straight cuts all the way through are practically mandatory (option 1). By special request, we may be able to add a bevel, but there would be an added cost, because the cnc machine would have to move really really slow…

For all stock around 1/2″ thick:

Straight cuts all the way through (option 1) look fine and are most economical. However, if you really want a bevel, then go with the edge extended option (option 3).

For stock 3/4″ thick or greater:
Skinny Fonts

Skinny fonts should either be made with straight cuts (option 1) which are cheaper and faster to make, or, if you want a bevel, then go with the edge extended option (option 3).

Bolder Fonts

Bolder fonts can either be straight (option 1) but really look much nicer with a bevel, and so a trimmed edge (option 2) or trimmed edge with sharp inside corners (option 4) would be recommended in that case.

If you still have questions, ask us in an email.