Written By: Bill Griggs - Oct• 31•12

V Carved the Cow head

Finished V Carved Cow Head


Part 10

This is the home stretch for this project. I have done my research and artwork and now it just comes down to making the final cut. In the last segment I did the shadowing for the V-Carve and setup all the tool paths to take into account the actual thickness of the paint masking film.  All that was left was to run the final tool paths and spray the final finishes.

Cutting the VCarve

Cutting the VCarve

I used the V-Carve tool path I created earlier and machined in the depth details of the cow head. This process was fairly quick and only took about 20 minutes to run. It is very easy to have your paint masking detach from the workpiece during this process so it is a great idea to make sure you burnish the parts down prior to cutting (see section blank for details). Since the sign also had some text which was carved with the same bit as the cow head, I created the tool paths as a single file. If the tool paths had been different colors I would have done them separately.


Spray Shellac over raw carving.

Once I had carved the image, text and made the final cut into the workpiece, I sprayed shellac into the raw edges of the wood. The shellac prevents the stencil link from being absorbed into the wood outside of the edges that are cut. Having the stencil ink bleed through at this point in the game would be tragic.

I really like to use shellac quite a bit for my projects. Shellac can serve as a sanding sealer, it also prevents stencil ink from bleeding through the wood pores onto the sign. In addition to being used as a sanding sealer, shellac can also be used to spray before using polyurethane or after. It also doesn’t attack most paints that I’ve used. For this project I used Zinsser’s Bull’s-eye shellac.  It dries in a few minutes, it’s clear and can be used everywhere.  If I were using this for an outdoor sign I might choose a different shellac with a UV inhibitor.

Spray Box

I used a cardboard box to block over spray.

Once the shellac was dry I sprayed two coats of black stencil ink over the carved areas. I used a cardboard box to surround the plaque to prevent overspray. Stencil ink dries almost immediately and can be re-coated in a manner of minutes. I find stencil ink much easier to use than paint for this type of sign. The faster drying time alone makes it worth your consideration. So far, I’ve tried to types of stencil ink, one is Marsh’s stencil ink and the other brand is SprayOn stencil ink. Both do a good job of covering and both seem to stay put when  sprayed.


Black Stencil Ink

Spray two coats of Black Stencil Ink.


Spray Text

Spray the text with two coats.

When the sign dried, I sprayed a coat of Shellac over the painted areas. When that dried I ran the final profile toolpath and cut the sign free from the board. I used a 1/4″ Downspiral bit for the profile and followed up with a 3/16″ round over bit along the edges of the sign to give a smooth finish.

Sign cut free from backer board.



Sanding the edge smooth.










I applied painters tape as a mask for the back side of the plaque. I could have substituted Masking film but painters tape was the first thing I grabbed. Then I used the roundover bit on the back of the sign right through the painters tape.  This gave me a nice clean edge around the sign. I placed the sign on top of the Bench cookies and sprayed the edge of the sign with shellac then stencil ink.

Spray The edge

Spray the edge.


Now that the entire sign was painted and dry I removed the masking film from the sign. At first the sign didn’t look so good. So I began removing the film around the face.

Remove mask

Removing the mask. At first the sign doesn’t look so good.


As more of the film came off the sign began to take shape. But there are still a lot of tiny pieces of masking film to peel away.

Starting to take shape

The sign is starting to take shape as I remove more masking film.

I got most of the film removed from the face of the cow.


Underneath all that masking was Margarita Cow. YEAH!


Once I removed all the masking from both sides of the sign I lightly sanded the sign with a Scotchbrite pad and wiped off the dust with a damp towel and let the sign dry. I brushed on a coat of Minwax Polycrylic  waterbased Poly over the entire sign. I used painter’s pyramids so I could do both sides at once.




 I was very happy with the way the sign turned out. I think I really captured the 3D look of the cow without using a 3D carving. The light shadowing of the sign before Deep V Carving really adds depth to the sign. I was satisfied but would Ashlee be?


I had Ashlee come over and view the sign and she was delighted. She asked if  we could take a picture of the sign with Margarita Cow. So off to the pasture we went. Margareta could sense something was up and headed for the hills. We must have chased that cow for 15 minutes before we gave up. Oh well. Maybe some other time.

“Never work with animals or children.” – W.C. Fields

Margarita senses somethings up

“You wanna do what?”

I don't think so
“I Don’t Think So.”


AY Holsteins

Ashlee proudly displays here new sign.


This tutorial series was mentioned on the Internet Business Mastery Podcast Episode #172.
















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  1. […] This Post! I just posted another installment of the tutorial. Please leave a comment. CNC SIGN PROJECTS – FINAL CUT – Bill __________________ Making the world a better place, one project at a time. CNC Router, […]

  2. Michael Davidson says:

    Very cool Bill!

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