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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