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Knife set - laser engraving

Posted by Dave Bull at 2:47 AM, April 13, 2012 [Permalink]

It was more than a month ago that I posted about the production of the handles for the upcoming knife set, and in the comments to that post, I mentioned in passing that I had been in contact with a Canadian living down in Nagasaki who owns a laser engraving setup.

When I contacted him about the possibility of engraving our name on these tools he was very willing to give it a try. I sent some sample bits of wood, along with the information on what characters I wanted, and he soon sent back a little box with some samples. I was happy to see that the lettering was very readable, and that he had even been able to laser on the round surface of the carving knife handle, something I had been afraid would not be possible:

Here's a zoom-up on a couple of them:

But as you can see, although the lettering is clear, the wood is quite heavily burned and scarred. (What do you expect after firing a laser at it!). I wasn't initially worried about this, because my plan was to take the engraved handles and fill the lasered area with some material that would contrast with the colour of the handle itself, perhaps darker, perhaps lighter.

Here's the result of the first such test, made on one of his samples:

Boring. You can't even tell that anything was engraved, and it just looks like (slightly pixellated) printing. It won't rub off, that's for sure, but it's just not interesting or attractive enough.

So for a next test, I'm going to consider leaving the lettering in the un-filled state. But to do that, I'd like it to be lasered somewhat more cleanly than the original samples. Perhaps this could be done with a lower power, or perhaps by lasering not so deeply. I'll have to see what he suggests ...




Added by: Hannah on April 14, 2012 12:57 AM

You should give the guy with the laser cutter a scrap piece of the wood to test some different settings with. The laser's settings need to be adjusted depending on the density of the material. And your wood may be denser than what he's used to cutting. Cutting slower will give you a cleaner line and you'll have to drop the power as well, also ask what PPI he is using. It sounds like it may not be high enough it should be 600 PPI at least.
Also what kind of file did you send him? I would recommend a vector file like something from Illustrator. If you don't have Illustrator I'd be happy to convert something for you.

Added by: Dave on April 14, 2012 8:47 AM

give the guy ... a scrap piece of the wood

This is of course what I did; the images in this post are all of samples he did on the 'real' wood.

And he is working from an .eps file, with the fonts outlined, so it's all vector work. I'm not sure of the resolution capabilities of his machine ...


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