Introduction: Laser Etched Wooden Name Cards
We had an outdoor reception at our wedding so we wanted to create name cards that wouldn't blow around if it was windy on the terrace. I like any excuse to use the laser cutter, so I designed these little name cards and was delighted to find they were easy to create and most likely cheaper than paper name cards. Win.
Like most of my projects, I made these at Techshop.
Step 1: Setup and Materials
I used 1/8" craft plywood for the faces, which I found at an art store, and the backs are 1/2" quarter dowel rods, which will likely be found where molding is sold. Here in San Francisco, I found the quarter round stock at Discount Builders Supply. Using the quarter round dowel in this configuration turned out to be excellent.
Once I had the craft plywood sourced, I created an Illustrator file with the same dimensions as the wood board. The file was divided up into cells, each with the name of our guest and table name style the way I wanted. I adjusted the cell size to maximize what I'd get out of each board.
Step 2: Laser Etching and Cutting the Name Cards
For those familiar with the laser cutter already, this step will be very obvious.
It's important to specify which lines will be etched and which will be cut as the laser requires different settings for the two separate jobs. See your laser's guidelines for the material you use. I could have had the edges of the name cards touch here but I didn't want too much of a singed edge so I left a small gap. After removing the name cards from the laser, I sanded the faces lightly to remove that brownish tint the laser can give light wood (see the two 'Jonathan Coens' cards above) before gluing on the backing wood.
Step 3: Cutting the Dowel and Assembly
I don't have any photos of the quarter round dowel being cut, but it's very straight forward. You can use whatever suits you best - I just set up a fence on the band saw and cut these to a consistent length the same as the name cards and quickly sanded the two rounded edges to take care of splinters.
For the next step, just place the name card text down on a flat surface and position the quarter round dowel towards the top half with glue on the dowel piece. You can use the top edge of the name card to line up the flat edge of the dowel.
In the end, they stacked together nicely and looked beautiful sitting on the tables. We've been delighted to see many family and friends have them in their homes or keep them on their desks at work, which is a nice compliment for the care that went into them.