Introduction: How to Paint a Laser Engraved Wood Sign at TechShop

This is an easy way to enhance the look of your laser engraved sign using transfer tape and spray paint. The transfer tape acts as a mask so that the whole piece can be laser etched, spray painted, the mask removed and the resulting image looks more professional.
This is much easier than trying to add paint into the laser engraved portions after the fact.

This instructable assumes you have an image you wish to engrave and already know how to use the laser at TechShop.

Step 1: Attaching the Transfer Tape

The first step is to cover your piece with the transfer tape.  The transfer tape was purchased at a local hobby store.

In this example the wood we are using oak.  Other woods such as alder are preferred but oak was chosen in this case.  The transfer tape protective coating is peeled off and then the tape is applied to the piece.  Start from the center and push out all the air bubbles.  A good bond to the wood is essential for good results.


Step 2: Etch the Wood

This laser etching is done on a Trotec Speedy 300 at TechShop.  We used Corel Draw for the image.  The laser setting was the default for the oak wood.  The print job was ran two times to make sure that the transfer tape was etched off and sufficient depth into the wood was achieved.

When this step is complete the paper should have been completely removed from the parts of the image that were etched by the laser.

Step 3: Painting

This is the simplest part. Choose a paint color and type you want your image to be.  As always multiple thin coats will work better with less bleeding onto the surrounding wood. 

Step 4: Remove the Mask

After the paint has dried all is left is to remove the mask from the piece.  Removing some of the smaller bits can require some fiddling.  Sanding with 220 grit sandpaper can reduce the appearance of any bleeding.  



Comments

author
nine81 (author)2014-10-22

Hi broadspectrum,

I'm a little late, but nice Instructable!

Handy tip - You can eliminate bleeding of the black altogether by doing a light clear coat and allowing it to dry prior to painting with black.

Cheers!

author
jbauer4 (author)nine812014-12-19

I have quite a bit of experience with making signs with my laser engraver. You are correct that a clear coat will help with most woods to avoid bleeding of the paint. But in this case he used oak which is a really open grained wood. I am surprised there wasn't more bleeding as the open grain structure of the wood will pull the paint. Oak really is not a good choice for this type of project.

author
JCA100 (author)2013-10-11

Having recently purchased the Trotec Speedy 400 for our school, this is a very useful Instructable for us. Thank you.

author
amandaghassaei (author)2012-12-10

looks great! did the laser burn away all of the mask or did you have to peel it off before you painted? welcome to instructables!

author

The laser removed all the on the portions which were engraved on one pass. The second engraving pass was run to slightly deepen the engraving. The remaining mask was peeled off manually after painting.

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