Carvey

Make beautiful, durable, and functional objects from wood and plastic with our Carvey desktop CNC machine.

The Carvey uses a variety of bits to precisely carve, cut, and engrave material up to 0.9″ thick. Create your design in Easel, a free, cloud-based program, then make an appointment to carve it with staff assistance. You can also book an appointment with us to learn how to use Easel or explore on your own by visiting easel.inventables.com, creating an account, and diving in.

Need inspiration? Check out a sampling of projects from Inventables, makers of the Carvey.

Once you have a finished project prepared in Easel, book an appointment with the Makery Reservation Form for a one-hour, staff-supervised carving session. You will need to sign or bring a signed copy of our Carvey User Agreement before we begin.

How it works

The Carvey is a fully enclosed, desktop CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. As a subtractive manufacturing tool, the Carvey takes solid blocks and carves away material to make an object. A set of motors move the cutting tool and work surface in three directions—side-to-side (the x axis), back-and-forth (the y axis), and up-and-down (the z axis)—to physically duplicate a digital design.

The Carvey uses a metal bit to carve, cut, and engrave material. This bit is similar to one found in a drill, but it is designed to cut while moving laterally, carving a path along the material, instead of plunging down to make holes. By making multiple passes, the bit can carve to varied depths, allowing the machine to do everything from very shallow engraving to complete cuts through a thick board.

Easel is a free, cloud-based program used to operate the Carvey. It allows you to create projects and interact with the machine. Designs can be drawn directly in Easel, imported as SVG files from other programs, or traced from raster images (JPGs, PNGs, or GIFs).

Easel also allows you to set the material and bit to be used for each design. The needs of your project—type of material, level of detail, and depth of cut—will determine which bits are most suited to the job. A fuller explanation of bit selection can be found below, and staff can also assist in making this determination.

Materials & Bits

What size material can the Carvey cut?

  • The Carvey can accommodate material up to 12″ long x 8″ wide x 0.9″ thick.
  • Very thin materials may not be carvable. We recommend materials no thinner than 1/16″ (0.0625″).

Where can I get material to use with the Carvey?

  • Materials which we can carve include: acrylic, expanded PVC, HDPE, linoleum, hardwood, plywood, and MDF. We recommend purchasing these materials directly from Inventables, as these are pre-cut to a suitable size and have been tested with the Carvey. We do not currently allow the use of metals, stone, wax, or other materials. All materials to be cut must be flat and of even thickness.

What bits do you have available?

  • The choice of cutting bit depends on material, level of detail, level of finish needed, and depth of cut. A good primer on bits can be found at the Inventables website.
  • It’s helpful to keep in mind the capabilities of each bit when designing your project, but we can help you select a bit if you are not sure which to use.
  • The bits we currently have available are:
    Bit diameter Type Maximum depth of cut Good for
    1/8″ 2 flute straight 0.866″ Wood, plastics, linoleum, MDF, plywood; cuts without fine detail; thick to very thin materials*
    1/8″ 1 flute spiral upcut 0.866″ Plastics, linoleum, hardwood**; cuts without fine detail
    1/8″ 2 flute fishtail upcut 0.394″ Plastics, linoleum, hardwood**; cuts without fine detail
    1/16″ 2 flute fishtail upcut 0.315″ Plastics, linoleum, hardwood**; cuts with detail
    0.01″ 30° engraving bit 0.01″ Wood, plastics, linoleum; very shallow cuts with very fine detail

    *Straight bits, downcut, or compression bits are better than upcut bits for very thin material, because upcut bits pull the material up and away from the cutting surface.

    **Upcut bits pull up on the material, creating a rougher top edge/surface on plywood, MDF, and hardwood. This is less noticeable with hardwood, but plywood and MDF are very likely to tear, and we do not recommend using upcut bits with these latter two materials.

Examples