Introduction: Laser Wedding Gift - Large Sign
To create a large (120cm wide) wooden sign with a special wedding theme message.
Step 1: Material Preparation
Decide on the materials to use for your project; in this case I have used some scrap lengths of 40x90mm which will be resawn down for the lettering and a piece of 140x25mm which will become the backing board.
Cut the materials to length and saw (or plane) to thickness. For the stock being used for lettering, make sure you prepare extra "just in case"
Step 2: Cutting Letters
After calibrating the laser cutter on some of the material; start cutting out the letters and laying them out.
Double-checked all spellings!
I made sure that I had more than enough stock material to allow for any mistakes that could occur throughout the project.
Step 3: Colour & Stain
For this sign, the backing board has several coats of a dark mahogany stain; the lettering has been sprayed with a white enamel project spray and the hearts sprayed with a cherry red.
From the pictures you can see that we tested a number of stain coats on a spare piece of material (which will be kept for reference) and applied the stain with a small piece of sponge held in a plastic clip.
As I spray indoors (in a well ventilated, utility room), I made a small booth from an old cardboard box to keep as much paint contained as possible. Door/windows open and a ceiling fan on full power help with the process.
(step 4) covers positioning and glue
Finally, the whole sign received a few coats of clear coat spray.
A can of wood dye costs around £12; paint sprays were about £5 a can and plenty left over for a future project.
Step 4: Position & Glue
Lay out the lettering in the position that you like, measuring the spacing from the top/bottom, between letters and words.
Once happy, each letter is removed, a small amount of glue spread on the back of the letter and replace. I considered using Gorilla, which may be good as you would have some tolerance for error; but feeling brave, I used fast setting epoxy, applied with a cocktail stick.
NOTE: A lesson learned here, is that I should have also use the laser to cut sheets of paper with the lettering, to help with spacing and alignment of letters. This would have saved quite a bit of time.
These syringe type epoxy sets cost around £6.00 from most main stream DIY stores. I've probably used about 1/3rd on this project.
When all of the letters are glued, a second plank is laid over the top (taking care not to move the letters) and clamped overnight.
Step 5: Fixtures
As a wedding item, this is going to be suspended with ribbons, hence cutting a 12mm hole in the upper corners to feed/tie ribbon.
A d-ring screwed to the back (near the holes) means a wire could be added if additional support is needed for the weight, but also to provide a more permanent fixture for the couple to hang the sign at home.
Pre-drill small holes for the d-ring screws.
I bought a pack of 100 d-rings off eBay for about £6.00
Step 6: The Finishing Touches
After carefully checking all of the letters, paint and stain for any flaws, a super fine (500 grit) sand in places, the whole sign is given a few thin coats of a clear varnish.
A box of 6 cans of varnish were bought for under £10 and tested on some scrap material.
I was a little concerned that there would be some squeeze-out of the epoxy that would have been very difficult to clean-up; there was some, but not significant enough to be of concern and I remained confident that it wouldn't be noticeable after the clear coat (this epoxy dries with a very clear finish)