How would you approach this engrave?

Hello everyone! I am trying to do a going away present for one of the Air Force Officers in my office. He was instrumental in getting some big projects done and his subordinate crafted this patch. They want me to engrave it on a wooden plaque. It seems complicated due to the overlap. I figure I might be able to make a cut out of the pieces and do a 3D patch, but unsure. Any advice would be appreciated!


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Turn it black and white, and trace the U2 outline in white.
Like this but with the U2 having a white outline.

I’d consider a four color inlay for the interior. It might be the only way to allow both the birds and the plane to show. (Or you could do stacked layers, but the inlay might look better.)


@Jules beat me to it. :grinning: To me this is just begging for inlay.


ok, so for inlay, cut out the circle, cut out the plane, then inlay them into the wood, then engrave the Hap Arnold wings over it?

You could and that would certainly work…I was thinking you could cut each of the individually colored shapes out of different colored woods and just glue them all into place. (Example: Just look at the pinkish brown colored shapes - cut those out of one color wood. Cut the black out of another darker color. Cut the light green out of a third colored light wood, and the darker green out of a medium tone wood.)

Or you can cut individual shapes out of the same light colored wood, and then just dye them appropriately. When you glue them to the backing, the pattern will emerge like a puzzle. (I would also score the pattern onto the backing circle in order to make placement a little bit easier.)

You might have to make it fairly large in order to capture some of the tiny details for this pattern though…not sure how large this is going to be.

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Or…by far the easiest method if you are in a hurry…score the outlines on a light colored wood and get some Sharpie markers and start coloring. Once you finish, put a top coat on it and it’s going to look excellent.


You could do a multi colored trace in Inkscape and use each color to be a different depth of engrave setting the speed different in each case. This will give it the effect of layering without it being different layers, After cleaning it up you could then color each depth, or not.


Interestingly, the inlay approach would likely take less (Forge) time, though it will require more time upfront on the design and in the assembly.

One word of advice from a project I did: Don’t try to save wood by moving around different components to be close to each other on the cut with the intention of moving them later. The wood grain should be consisent with the placement in each color, and each color’s woodgrains should “work” with that of the other colors. This may mean they all go in the same direction, or that they contrast at right angles, other angles that match the overall theme of the piece, etc. For this one, I’d suggest making sure they all align in the same direction.

Just my 2 cents from a project I made a mistake on earlier (Office sign, wood on acryllic) and had to re-cut a piece to make it all work out properly.


If you want to do this as a single engrave, you could try using different crosshatch patterns for the different colors in the original. For example, score the wings at a 45-degree angle and the plane at a negative 45-degree angle.

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I would do it in layers, personally, and cut the airplane from a dark translucent acrylic to let the stuff underneath show through. :slight_smile: This one doesn’t have any translucent stuff, but shows how I approached something similar for my dad:


Looking at it a little more, I’d do 3 layers. Background (big circle), then the bilious yellow parts (circular frame, wings, star), then the translucent acrylic for the letters, small stars, airplane, and the inner and outer outline of the circular frame.

If you ask really nicely and don’t get offended by my use of “bilious yellow” (hey, I’m a nurse, that’s what it looks like to me!), I might even help you work up the vector art after I finish my coffee. :wink:

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Thanks all, I like all of the recommendations. The guy that drew the patch is going to take the parts out for me and i like the idea of black acrylic for the U-2. I have some interesting wood and stains for the other bits, I think this will come together nicely


that would be great, we are still new to this and software designing isn’t my forte…yet

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All righty, I’ll get to work. Stay tuned! :wink:

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Question: What approximate dimensions are you going for?

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I am waiting for the boss to get back to me on actual sizes, i’m thinking the outside circle to be 10 inches or so…Do you think that’s big enough? Too big?

That’s fine, I think. Can’t go much bigger than that anyway. :slight_smile:

Do you have any way to find out what font they used? I can draw the individual letters, but it would look better with the actual font, since with the pixelated original I won’t be able to get them exactly right. It’s not a standard USAF font, that I can find… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

the guy that made it said he added it afterwords in powerpoint, it doesn’t really matter so anything that works and looks nice i guess