Know someone with an upcoming rustic themed event, such as a wedding? Help them add a touch of personalization to the tables with these laser engraved log slices. The goal for these was to be reminiscent of a hand carved heart and initials for the bride and groom.
I made this at TechShop www.techshop.ws
Step 1: Materials and Equipment
Vector drawing software (I used CorelDraw)
Laser cutter (my TechShop has a Trotec Speedy 300)
Wood glue (if some bark breaks off)
Masking tape (to help glue bark bits back on)
Polyurethane (if you want to seal them)
Log with intact bark (not fresh cut to minimize sap)
This instructable assumes some basic familiarity with CorelDraw and a laser cutter.
Step 2: Make Log Slices
The groom-to-be had a section of a large fallen branch he had saved for this purpose. It was ~3" in diameter, fairly dry, and had nicely intact bark. With a quick trip to the bandsaw I cut 18 slices each about 5/8" thick. I made sure to pick up any small pieces of bark that broke off so that they could be glued back on later. Most slices stayed completely intact.
Step 3: Create Artwork
The bride-to-be provided the basic clip art she wanted to use. It was a rough drawn heart with their initials. The original image was a bitmap with some coarser greyscale around the very edges that I wanted to clean up. I imported the image into CorelDraw and used the QuickTrace tool to smooth out the edges a bit. Then I resized the image to fit within a 2.75" diameter circle so that it would fit on the somewhat irregular log slices. I searched for a complimentary font to add their wedding date below their initials, completing the artwork.
Step 4: Laser Engrave Image
In order to make aligning the image on each log easier, I first engraved the image onto a piece of scrap cardboard. As long as you are careful not to move the cardboard you can use it to properly locate each slice of wood (place the log slice so that it completely covers the image each time). I found that laser settings of 100% power and 45% speed worked well for this particular wood. Make sure you refocus the laser for each log slice, unless you were really careful to make each log slice pretty consistent. First one done!
Step 5: Make a Bunch More...
You will likely have a few pieces from which the bark fell off during cutting or handling. Apply a drop of wood glue to the piece of bark, press it into place, and use a piece of masking tape to hold it on while drying. Here you can see the complete set of slices, with a small number still having their tape on. After 24 hours you can peel off the tape and the pieces are ready to be used.. If you prefer a satin or glossy finish you can coat them with the appropriate polyurethane. Enjoy!