Introduction: Laser Engraved Converse Shoes

You think you love your Chucks now...just wait until you personalize them with any picture or lettering that you can dream up!

All you need is a pair of your favorite canvas shoes and access to a laser engraver/cutter. I used the Epilog Helix 50W that is available at my friendly neighborhood MakerSpace.

Step 1: Acquire an Image

I searched for an image online, saved it, and imported it into Corel Draw for sending to the laser, but you can use whatever graphics program you like to create your own image or text. I found it helpful to include the words "clip art" in my search terms so that the images I was shown were nice, clean line drawings

Your image should be grayscale (not color) with a white background. Pure black and white seems to work best.

The image I used was 1.5" tall and 2.5" wide. You can measure the available space on your shoes and adjust your image size accordingly.

Step 2: Adjust the Print Settings

Import your image into Corel Draw (assuming that's what's connected to your Epilog Helix, which it probably is).

Select File, Print, and then click on the Properties button. On the General tab, adjust the settings as follows:

a. Select the checkboxes (so the checkmark is "on") for Center Engraving, Send to Laser, and Send to Manager.

b. Ensure the "AutoFocus" check box is NOT selected.

c. Adjust the resolution to 300 dpi.

d. The job type selection should be "Raster."

e. The Raster Settings speed should be 90 and the power should be 20 as a starting point. You may need to reduce the speed or increase the power a little bit if your engraving is too light. You can also just leave the shoe on the laser bed and run the print a second time if it was too light the first time.

f. Image Dithering is set to Standard.

g. Adjust the Image Size to match the size of your canvas in Corel Draw.

Click the "OK" button, then on the next screen that appears click on the "Apply" button to save the print settings. Don't click the "Print" button just yet.

Step 3: Place Your Shoe and Adjust the Epilog's Settings

Stuff some crumpled paper inside the shoe to keep the canvas that you'll be engraving relatively flat.

Lay the shoe on the platform, and find something about an inch or two tall to prop up one end so that the shoe is level. A book or a small box should do the trick.

Attach the manual focus adapter (the small metal piece shown in the picture) to the appropriate spot near the engraving head.

Select the "Pointer" button so you'll see a little red beam of light indicating where the laser will be pointing.

Select the "X/Y Off" button so that you can manually move the laser to your desired starting point. Use the down arrow to lower the bed so that the head of the laser won't touch the shoe.

You can move the top bar towards you or away from you and the engraving head left or right.

The red pointer should be centered on the part of the shoe where you want the center of your engraving, and the tip of the manual focus adapter should just barely be touching the canvas surface of your shoe. When it is where you want it, select the "Set Home" button.

Remove the manual focus adapter, being careful not to bump your shoe or knock it out of place. Gently close the lid on the Epilog.

Step 4: Engrave!

Once your shoe is placed and the focus is set on the Epilog, you are ready to engrave!

Select "Print" in Corel Draw, and then push the "Go" button on the Epilog. Keep an eye on it while it's engraving so that you can cancel the job if you see any problems.

If the engraving is too light for you, don't touch the shoe. Leave it where it is and push the "Go" button again, and the Epilog will run the same job again.

That's it! Now go do the other shoe...

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Bio: I like to tinker. :-)
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