The Library CarveWright Built

We’ve been working on a library project for almost 6 years, and it is nearly finished. Earlier this summer at the CarveWright Conference we gave tours and shared some photos in our post-conference blog.  Now, we’ve gathered up photos outlining the progress of this great build to show you some of the steps taken along the way.

The Before Photo

Sorry for the small photo. It’s all we could find.


The Floor

The library started as a 1000 sq ft carpeted “multi-purpose” room.  It had textured and painted walls pretty typical of contemporary homes.  It had a strange column in the middle of the room housing the air return for the HVAC system, so the first steps were to move that and pull up the carpet to lay in an oak floor.  The floor is actually reclaimed from an old haunted 17th century mansion. Well, maybe its not, we found it on craigslist, so who knows.

You can find anything on Craigslist

The Ceiling

The ceiling was a major project.  We were creating panels at various depths with lots of trim and lighting.  In order for this to work, the ceiling had to be level and smooth.  Shimming and leveling the panel structure took a significant amount of time, but we got there, eventually.


This is where the CarveWright 3D Carving System debuted in this project. We carved out some details to finish the ceiling. Some corner finials, air-conditioning vents, and even some curved pieces of trim for the large panels.


The Cabinets

Building the cabinets was exciting. Mostly, because we got to finally start covering up the textured walls, and really start to see what this room was going to look like. We cheated here a little.  We went to the cabinet shop next door and had them rip all the pieces to size and drill all the peg holes for the the shelves on their huge CNC machine.  It’s all their machine does, so why not?  Plus, it wasn’t working, and they needed our techs to fix it, so it was a pretty good trade.


The Paneled Walls

Once the cabinets were installed and leveled, we marched ahead on covering those walls.  The paneling went pretty fast, until we got to the trim.  We’ve tried to estimate how much trim went into this room. Our best guess is around 2000 linear feet or more.  It was weeks at the chop saw.


The Carved Friezes

Above every cabinet and every panel circling the room are carved friezes.  Each one is different, depicting a subject matter fitting for a library, including famous figures, general subject matter, historical periods, and more.  They were all designed using patterns from the Pattern Depot, patterns we made from 3D models found on the internet, and many we created from scratch using the Pattern Modeling Suite tools.  There are 56 total panels in this room, so showing them all would take up the entire article, but here are a few.


We even carved grills for the new air return vent.


The Fireplace

The fireplace was a huge project.  We had a grand vision for what we wanted, worked out over a night of sketching and beer, but getting there wasn’t clear, at first. Never start by designing something within known limitations.  Design what you want it to be, and then work out the practicalities afterward.

You know what be awesome? Angels with swords!
You know what be awesome? Angels with swords!

It took some time for the technology to catch up to what we wanted to do.  What ended up making this possible was the rise of 3D printers.  Along with these machines came several websites that distribute 3D STL files for free.  One site in particular is  and their Scan the World collection.  They have people all over the world 3D scanning famous sculptures that are free to download.  It’s pretty amazing.  Another thing that came up during this period, was a piece of free software called Meshmixer by Autodesk.  Meshmixer allows you to take 3D models and, fairly easily, “mash” them together to create something new.  That’s exactly what we did.

Take a wing from here, a couple arms from there, and of course, swords.

From here, we could take the model into the CarveWright STL Importer and slice it up to carve and assemble.

It’s really amazing what can be accomplished when you dedicate yourself to it, and if you have a CarveWright, of course.

The fireplace needed a firebox, so we searched around for some tile or stone that would be appropriate. We weren’t quite finding what we wanted, until one stop at a stone yard, where we showed them pictures.  They sent us home with a product called ArcusStone. This is, basically, a limestone plaster that can be molded into any shape you want.

We didn’t make the ventless gas log set.

Then, the rest of the fireplace wall had to be built and the mantle installed in place.


The Family Crest

To complete the fireplace wall, we wanted a large family crest in the center panel above the mantle.  Again, using patterns from the Pattern Depot in Project Designer PRO, we came up with a large crest.  Since it is so wide, almost 24″, we needed to do it in sections.  It also needed to be deep, so we were able to work out a way to carve it in layered pieces that hid the seams and gave us the depth we wanted. It was done as an applique, so it could just attach to the panel.


The Details

With the fireplace finished, we were feeling pretty motivated.  The biggest hurdle of this entire project was done, and there was light at the end of the tunnel.  There were still several details that needed to be done to finish off the cabinets. Each cabinet needed columns attached to their ends, so we designed some vine wrapped fluted columns with little geckos randomly placed in the vines.  We needed 33 of these and each one was different.

Each column was carved on an 8 ft oak 1×4
Can you find the gecko?

At the top of most of these columns we needed some sort of corbel to transition into the crown moulding.  We thought about carving gargoyles, but couldn’t find 25 different gargoyles.  What we could find was a whole lot of famous busts on Scan The World.  We picked a selection and set them up to carve on the Rotary Jig.

Do you recognize any of them?
How about now?

At this point, we couldn’t resist the urge to clean the place thoroughly and get some books on the shelf in time for the conference.

Before I get to those photos though, I want to show one more addition that has been completed, since then.

The Stained Glass Window

At some point during this process, we decided this room needed a victorian stained glass window above the balcony door. It took 3 weeks to complete, but here it is.


The Library

Like I said in the beginning, this is still not finished.  The floors need to be sanded and finished, chandeliers need to be sourced, furniture needs to purchased or built, but as it is right now, it’s pretty spectacular.


I’ll update with more photos, as we get more completed, but I hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve done, so far.

We didn’t even show you the elevator hidden behind one of the book cases (not making that up), or the many other secret panels and doors.

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  • Thanks Joe,I’ll tell you the project was a show stopper I’m sure you know. It’s what got me to look at the project. Thank you for quick no sales pitch about the Rockler. As like any thing there are copy cats. My son is purchasing a full size 8′ Cnc machine for his business but as a wood worker / hobbiest I am very curious about one of these for home. I’m not a big furniture maker but would like to be as any wood worker would . I think the enhancements you can add to any project with a carve wright would really make your work stand out and to a higher level . You said you replaced parts. That doesn’t shock me . It’s awesome you would admit that . How hard were the parts to identify , obtain, and replace? How is the customer support you in this? Several very important notes I feel and your honesty I think goes further than any sales pitch could . Any tool you use to the magnitude of that room would need something .Bit replacement isn’t even on my radar . I’d think one knots could break a bit for sure . I enjoyed your comments and would appreciate any emails on you up coming videos and project s . It could push me into purchasing one . Thank you Jim Siniawski Pittsburgh pa.

    • CarveWright has more of a support system than anyone else. We have online searchable troubleshooting and maintenance documents/videos, a dedicated call center, many tutorials and other training materials, and more. Diagnosing and identifying parts isn’t difficult and many times can be done through the website resources and our web store without ever calling in. Another thing that may be interesting to you, starting next month, we will be in Rockler stores as part of their new technology centers. They will be carrying the entire line of our products.

  • I have so many questions I’ll try a few for your response how much of a toll was this on the carve weight. It almost seems you would have wore it out with half of this project. Is this a typical hobbiest carvewrght? My two sons are shop teachers and I bug them saying I would like a Cnc or an epilogue to make projects . The rocker version of the carvewrght is tempting .im just so curious about these machines with no back ground using any of the fore mentioned machines . Ivebeen a carpenter for 40 years now retired and have a long awaited wood shop. But would love to up my game with some thing like a carvewrght or Cnc ideas comments? I’m thinking of something that would not take up a lot of floor space in the four foot range
    Can you show the machine you used and is there more pictures of the process some where. I stumbled upon this article

    • Hi Jim, Thanks for the questions.
      This was all done using 2 CarveWright machines. One Version C and the other the newer CX model. Both of them are still operating just fine. These machines are workhorses. You wear out parts, but you replace them and keep going. We had some bearing changes, a couple flexshafts replaced, some cut motor brushes replaced, one of them required a new cut motor, plus we went through several bits. It probably took around 1200+ hours of carving between the 2 machines, while they were making other things the entire time as well.

      This project would literally be impossible with one of the Rockler CNC machines. That’s not a sales exaggeration either. They simply don’t have the capability to do it from either the hardware or software side. The CarveWright System was designed specifically to have a small footprint but with large output, be simpler and easier to use than everything else, and be affordable enough for a hobbiest audience but capable enough for pro-level work.

      I plan to do some more detailed articles on some specific elements of the library in the future, but wanted to get a bite sized article out to show it’s progress for now. Most of what was done is the same techniques described in our tutorials though, just scaled up.

  • Congratulations on an amazing project ! Where is the address? How would I wrangle an invitation to an Open House? Besides the Carve Wright – this project shows an incredible synergy of design, style, brains, skills, stamina, etc. and etc.

  • Beautiful, amazing work. I sure I\’ll be rereading this blog several times, it\’s really an inspiration showing what can be done with the CarveWright.

  • WOW! Your work is absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your accomplishments. You have inspired me to do more with my CarveWright. Thank you so much!

  • Oh, I have asked about a pattern for the fluted columns with the vines… you are taunting me with this blog and pictures.. 🙂
    To be serious…great blog and great project. The library turned out perfectly

  • That is one of the most spectacular projects ever . Is there any chance that some of the individual parts will be offered as projects? The frieze and the ivy columns are fantastic.

    • We’ve added the individual patterns we made for this project to the Pattern Depot, but we don’t have the files anywhere. They are all different sizes and everything is so specific to where it fits into this space. Template for the friezes is the same I used for the Chess Table build. This is the room that chess table will live. You can download that file over on that blog page here.


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