Options for Carving on Cabinet Doors

A cabinetmaker looks for practical ways to make bas-relief carvings on wood cabinet door faces. September 23, 2006

We got a strange request for some custom kitchen cabinets that we're estimating. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Face frame with cherry or walnut raised panel doors - pretty standard stuff for us…. With the exception of the human face the client would like carved out (CNC?) and planted onto the raised panel of the doors (not all - just in key places). Anyone done anything like this, or have a source for the carvings? Maybe we could call this job a face frame/face door?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
Sounds like a job for the CarveWright machine. Stick the panel stock in there and let it rip. You could probably charge enough to pay for the machine on the first job. If you haven't seen it, watch their video online - pretty impressive, especially for the price. I have no affiliation with them and don't even own the machine. I'd buy one, though, if I had a job like you've got!

From contributor K:
I own a ShopBot CNC machine and I've seen the talk on the forum about face carving software. Artcam has some awesome software for this kind of work. You might put a post on the forum and see if you can sub it out to one of these guys with the right gear. I'm sure there's someone in your area. CNC and heavy detail carving is not something the typical person should try in a hurry. The site is shopbottools.com, then go to the forum page.

From contributor S:
Might check with client and see if they are willing to go for a laser engraved face instead of a carving.

From contributor F:
Contributor K is right on track. I would try the Shopbot user forum - there are some there that could do that for you. Whose face is going on the cabinet doors? There's an article in one of last month's trade magazines with a shop that owns a Shopbot that shows a door with an old world figure of a man (face included). I believe it was CWB. Could get expensive, besides getting weird.

From contributor I:
Contributor B, I've seen that before - do you own one or just know about them? It looks like a bench top planer, but the results are pretty impressive. It just looks kind of restrictive to sign making and carving on a smaller scale, and I'm somewhat skeptical of how it could be economical to rip and cross cut on it. But otherwise, it looks pretty nice, and for $2k you can't go wrong for the fine detail it can do.

From contributor B:
No, I don't own one, but know several guys that do. Their CarveWright is making them money every day. They're making corbels, rosettes, and signs with them. They swear by them. If I had an extra $2K sitting around, I'd buy one too. I think, from what I've read, that I could pay for it in less than 6 months - more like 2 months. I don't know anybody using it to rip or crosscut, but it looks like it could be a moneymaker!

From contributor I:
I hear ya. Yeah, the cross cut that the guy mentioned in the video sounded a little unnecessary, but being able to do carvings and corbels that most cabinet shops outsource in house is a major plus. While $2k is a lot of money, I can see how you can justify it with just one or two large projects, such as the raised panels that the thread starter mentioned. Thanks for the info.

From contributor U:
That CarveWright is great looking! I would love to have a CNC, but don't have the space normally. I like how the material is moved rather than requiring a huge fixed table. Is there anything else out there like this that anyone has seen before? Does anyone in the SF Bay Area own one that I can check out?

From contributor P:
Whoa, everybody. Is it totally out of the question to... God forbid ...hire a carver to do the work? I mean, wouldn't slightly different renditions be better than every door totally identical? Isn't it a little cold feeling when every one is exactly the same? What about soul and feeling? What about supporting a carver? Mind you, technophiles, that I am running two computers simultaneously, two monitors, use CAD and optimization software, and CNC. It's just that I use carvers because they do what no machine can... create slightly varied versions that are beautiful.

From contributor D:
I own a Carvewright, and love it.