Introduction: Laser Cut Out 3D Wooden Name Signs

This project involves a laser cutter. You probably can't do this at home with an improvised butter knife and candle, but if you have access to a laser cutter / engraver, give this easy project a go. I did it at Tech Shop in Menlo Park.
http://www.techshop.ws/

I wanted to make name signs and thought some bold fonts would be great to use.

what you may need:

Laser cutter with design software - I used Adobe Illustrator and an Epilog Helix Laser
Wood - I used 1/2" pine plank  - it's soft wood and cuts nicely
Hobby knife or razor blade
Sand paper
Wood Stain
Wood glue
Varnish or other clear coat
hanging hardware (2 eyelets and string or magnets or double sided tape)

Step 1: Write Name in Drawing Program

I defined the space of the wood and made the names big enough to fit.
These are going to be Vector based so the laser will cut instead of engrave.
When you like the way it looks, press print!

Step 2: Send Image to Laser

The wood is aligned in the top corner and the grain is in a way I liked. The knots will not affect the project.
It's memorizing to watch the laser cut, but don't stare - it's too bright!

Step 3: Add Border

After the letters were done, I cut them free with the hobby knife. There were a few spots the laser didn't make it through. Easy enough.
I liked the negative space that the cutouts made and decided to use that wood as well to add dimension.

Using the rounded corners box tool, make an outline around the names and run the print / cut again.

Step 4: Stain Background

Lightly sand any dirt or marring at this point.

I wanted the letters to really stand out - in more ways than one. I did a stain test and liked the way the letters looked on the Minwax Provincial walnut stain. I coated the background piece, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wiped off the excess. I used an additional paper towel to really rub it in.

Step 5: Glue the Letters

Lay the letters on the background and find an arrangement you like. I used wood glue to mount the letters in  a whimsical offset way that they would have enough surface to hold on while letting the cutout still be obvious.

Step 6: Clear Coat

Once the glue has dried, give the name sign a nice even coat of varnish or polyurethane to seal and protect it.

I used Minwax Clear Polyurethane.

Step 7: Decide How to Display It

soooo many ways!
you could drill a hole in the back at the central balance point and hang it on a nail.
you could drill two holes in the back on each side and hang it from two nails.
you could use two eyelets screwed to the top and some string or wire and hang it from a hook or nail.
you could glue strong magnets on the back and stick it to the fridge.
you could use double sided tape and stick it to just about anything.

how will you mount yours?

Comments

author
jessyratfink (author)2013-12-17

I think this is lovely! Really great work. I never would have thought to use a laser cutter for something like that. :D

author
roballoba (author)jessyratfink2013-12-17

thank you for your comment and excellent use of the be nice policy!

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Bio: Trying to learn faster than I forget. It will be cool to make some stuff along the way.
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