I have been wanting to make a mobile for Jones since before he was born. In my mind, I had it all figured out, of course. One early September afternoon, Harlow and I sat outside and painted wooden shapes that I thought just maybe would become a mobile, but they just weren’t quite right.
So I threw in the towel and kept creating this mobile in my head…until now.
One of the great things about having a baby is that you’re up in the middle of the night. Haha, I’m serious. It’s kind of awesome. I love rocking Jones around 2am, because it’s always when my ideas come to me — and since I am already awake, I don’t miss them. ;)
I love cutting wood veneer with my Brother ScanNCut, but it is also one of the materials I am most frequently asked about.
How do you cut the wood veneer?
How thick is the wood veneer?
What mat and settings do you use?
Well I’m going to get to all of those questions today! I have four tips and tricks that I want to share with you. My hope is that you come away from this a bit more confident about cutting wood veneer with your ScanNCut machine. I also have the download for the mobile shapes below if you’d like to use this project to practice.
TIPS & TRICKS
1 | Use Painter’s Tape or Masking Tape to hold your wood veneer in place.
As the mat goes through you ScanNCut machine, there is some give and drop that occurs due to gravity as it goes through the machine. The wood veneer lacks flexibility in this way, so the painter’s tape keeps the wood in place for cutting even the most intricate of cuts. I always use my standard mat, so that as my wood is cutting, it is tacky enough to hold the cut pieces in place.
I have tried using the Fabric Support sheet under the wood veneer, but it almost holds the wood too well. It becomes very difficult to remove from the mat, causing breaking and cracking to occur.
2 | Be sure that the grain of the wood is parallel with the blade.
In the image above, you can see that the grains or lines in the wood are in line with the direction the mat is fed into your ScanNCut machine. Because the blade is a one directional blade, the wood will cut more smoothly if placed this direction. When you cut cross-grain it is much more difficult and tends to crack and chip.
In addition to the grain of the wood, you want to rotate your design so that the direction of the majority of its cut lines are going in the same direction as the grain as well.
3 | Use multiple cuts with minimal pressure.
My “go-to” settings are as follows:
- Blade depth: 10-11
- Blade pressure: 0
- Cut speed: 1
I find that if you increase the pressure, the tip of the blade holder will catch on the veneer as it cuts. When this happens, it can pull the wood out of place or crack it. When you run the cut file the first time, you will see a cut that looks similar to the above photo. As you run it a second time, you should see and even hear the remainder of the design cut through.
Because wood is a material with variance — some has more grain and some areas are a little tougher to cut — be careful when removing your design. I keep a small, sharp scissor near for when I catch any of those spots.
4 | Use a backing material to strengthen the wood veneer.
Depending on the use of your wood veneer, you might want to strengthen it using an iron-on transfer material (vinyl) or paper. Paper can be adhered using a spray adhesive or glue. Be cautious of the glue gumming up your blade, especially if you haven’t allowed it to dry completely.
I love using a thin iron-on material to strengthen my wood veneer. Simply iron it on to your wood as you would any other material and then cut. You will find that some wood is more brittle than others. Maple is the wood I have found to be the most pliable and best for cutting intricate designs.
WOOD VENEER MOBILE SUPPLIES
- Brother ScanNCut Machine
- Standard Blade and Cartridge
- Wood Veneer (I get mine locally, but this is similar)
- Standard Mat
- Painter’s Tape or Masking Tape
- Iron-On Transfer Material in Film
- Heavy duty metal wire
- Fishing line
Begin the mobile creation by ironing the iron on transfer material to one side of your wood veneer sheets. You can leave some without if you’d like as well.
When your wood veneer is prepped, download the .FCM file available here.
Using the tips and settings above, cut out pieces for your mobile. It is up to you how many of each size and shape you’d like to use for your mobile.
Begin putting the shapes together and then using a sharp needle, make a small hole to thread the needle and tie fishing line in a small knot.
Create a shape with the wire and begin tying the shapes to it, varying the length and placement as you go.
When you are happy with the placement of each shape, cut the excess fishing line, take a step back and admire your work!
I love that as this mobile spins, sometimes you see all wood color and other times you see all bring color. I really wanted to make sure that when it hangs, Jones can see the colors — as so many mobiles only show the color when viewed from the side, not the baby’s perspective.
Overall: I absolutely love it!