How to Make a 3D Wood Veneer Comic Cover

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Picture of How to Make a 3D Wood Veneer Comic Cover
I've always wanted to have my very own issue of Amazing Fantasy #15 displayed on the wall. However, even the copies in the roughest of shape fetch a far prettier penny than I could ever justify spending on a comic. I work with wood often, so naturally I decided to make my own hardier version that I'd be proud to display in my home.

Originally I was going to laser etch the Amazing Fantasy cover into a solid piece of wood and then stain it different colors. Not only would that have been even more tedious and time consuming, once stain touches wood it is difficult to remove, thus allowing little room for error. I wanted something that would really pop and catch your eye on the wall so I altered the design to be three-dimensional. This was achieved by laying various species of wood veneer on top of balsa wood to give the illustrations depth, and then finally attaching all of the pieces to a solid wood board that can be mounted and displayed on a wall or bookshelf.

This Instructable requires basic knowledge of graphic editing software and laser cutting.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
First things first, you're going to need access to a laser cutter. I recently joined a co-op work space that has one and I've been lasering nonstop. Many large cities have co-op work spaces or hackerspaces with minimal monthly membership fees. Having access to a laser cutter alone makes the membership fees worth it in my opinion. You're also going to need a few other things, including:

Wood Plank
I used a board that I had laying around. It was a 1x8" Poplar board that I cut 12 inches off to use as the base.

Assorted Veneers
A good assortment of different wood species is key to making the cover pop. I purchased a pack of assorted veneers from Woodcraft that came with about 30 different sheets to choose from. I wanted to make sure the woods were relatively close to the colors of the comic cover. Originally I was going to use a bluish grey Oak for part of Spiderman but changed it after realizing that that particular veneer was dyed. Dyed veneers do not laser engrave well, so I changed it to Walnut instead. I ended up choosing Mahogany, Walnut, Cherry, Bamboo, Maple, Lyptus and Purpleheart for this cover.

Balsa Wood
Balsa wood is used to give the cover more depth. For the Amazing Fantasy cover, I wanted Spidey to be the most prominent and farthest out piece, so the veneer is mounted on a 1/8" piece of balsa. The word bubbles, title, and bad guy are mounted on 1/16" balsa.

Since it's mostly small pieces, I chose a fast setting super glue. You have to be quick when placing things, but you won't have to clamp them like a traditional veneer glue.

Wood Finish
I used a clear semi-gloss polyurethane to finish and protect the wood. I bought the spray kind so I wouldn't have to brush or hand rub all of the tiny pieces.

kevenr171 month ago


RishiG2 months ago

This is FANTASTIC! I'm amazed at such an original, retro and unique concept! I have a question, though. Are the files attached on the instructable and I have just scrolled past them or is there any chance they could be attached if not?

Many Thanks,

Rishi :)

antennas4 months ago
Really really well done. Good stuff.
samb19984 months ago
I want to make something like this for my dad for Christmas, but I don't have access to a laser cutter... Do you think it would be possible without one??
excellent job
rteifi7 months ago
Amazing work, scale it down, and it'd make an amazing phone case
Advar7 months ago
Yeah, it's a pun, but...
Amazing! :)
Rust Purpose8 months ago
This is a MARVELous piece
of art for all comic book fans to craft, enjoy, and too have in they're homes.
MustangGuy8 months ago
Would you be willing to make something like this out of a picture? I would like to make something like this with a picture of my car but I dont have access to a laser cutter where i live. Please let me know if we could possibly work something out.

Thank you,

PKM MustangGuy8 months ago
There are businesses which do this for you- you upload a design file and they will laser cut/etch the part from your choice of material (plywood/MDF being the main woody options) and mail it to you. If you're in the USA, Ponoko ( are one of the big names. If you aren't somewhere where Ponoko do business, Google "laser cut on demand (country name)". I use Razorlab in the UK, there are probably any number worldwide by now.
kevinmakes (author)  PKM8 months ago
The biggest and most time consuming part of this is getting the image files edited and ready to laser cut. Most of those companies require you to supply the vector files or they charge for bespoke orders (usually a pretty penny). Plus they only have a limited selection of veneered plywoods that wouldn't be ideal for this application because of thickness, so that's another issue.

But yes, there are companies that laser cut things for you. And yes I can do custom things, even from a picture.
creaturemaker9 months ago
i totally love this!
doctorkred9 months ago
Very nice
boodah9 months ago
This is by far one of the coolest pieces I have seen on this site. Definitely opens my eyes to a whole new area of design.
tinker0009 months ago
Now you just have to visit Stan Lee at a comic con or some other meet-n-greet and have it autographed. :)
kevinmakes (author)  tinker0009 months ago
He's visting Austin Comic Con in October, so maybe I'll do just that!
SinAmos9 months ago
Dude, I love this kind of stuff. I totally need to come and play with you.
jessyratfink9 months ago
Whoa! I need some of my favorite X-Men issues done up like this. It's beautiful!
kevinmakes (author)  jessyratfink9 months ago
Thanks! The X-Men #1 is coming up next!
Great job!! I was wondering if you could share the files for it.. I also can't afford the actual comic only a replica..
kevinmakes (author)  Viperoftriforce9 months ago
Thank you. Unfortunately I lost most of the vector files for this one. I was using a shared computer and made the mistake of thinking that I had everything backed up. I am working on a few others but I'd like to make them first before I release any files.
TeckyBecky9 months ago
AMAZING! How about selling a few of your early ones to fund your very own cutter. I bet you'd get a good price, especially for bespoke orders. Could you make them into a box to store the comic represented inside a protective wallet? Amazing way to store and display or even gift a comic. Great job dude.
kevinmakes (author)  TeckyBecky9 months ago
Thank you kindly. I do plan on making box versions of these in the future!
ynze9 months ago
The word is Amazing! Wonderful project!
agis689 months ago
lovely.....a wooden volume of spiderman?.....yesway!
thegreat589 months ago
One word......AWESOME
eurofighter459 months ago
Great job thinking of having a go with my CNC machine. Will not get the same detail but its worth a go.
askjerry9 months ago
A true work of art!

... I have a laser cutter... haven't layered the laminates like that... looks great.
And... great instructable too!
Vadinhotpj9 months ago
AMAZING! Great job!! Very Nice work!
Klappstuhl9 months ago
If I had access to a laser cutter, I'd print/make the Rockabilly Batman in a heartbeat!
pzfaust9 months ago
Well done! I can see other applications for this like posters, postage stamps, simple photos, etc. Now I just need access to a laser etcher/cutter.
mrmkurtz9 months ago
That is incredible - and what a great application of the technology. Awesome.
Tystarr9 months ago
Awesome, these take a lot of work I see. Really great craftmanship.
patman019 months ago
amazing! i don't think i can make one by myself. any chance you can do one for me? :)
BrittLiv9 months ago
Wow, this is amazing! Any change, that you can share the files?
ChrysN9 months ago
That looks amazing!
M3G9 months ago
Beautiful work!
M.Hawse9 months ago
I love this article! It's now one of my favorites. I've been collecting comics and reworking the artwork in various ways for many years, so I enjoyed this. Your efforts in editing and in using multiple wood choices really made this turn out nice. I am now looking forward to one day making one myself, thanks for sharing all of these great photos!
lyndsaylou9 months ago
Omg my brother would kill for this !!!!
That is such a fun idea! I just love it and want to see so many things done like this now!

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