Introduction: Laser Etched River Rocks & Stones - Inspirational Messages, Mantras, Slogans, & Inuendos

Have you seen those fancy stones that say "dream", "imagine", "love" and so on?

Being in a spirited mood, I wanted to make a feisty one.... "go away" was a great greeting that I had to do, while "wipe your paws" has a more functional meaning.

You will need:

Laser cutter / engraver
River rocks that have a good smooth surface
Paint and fine brush (optional)
Sand Paper (optional)
Clear sealer - paint or wax (optional)

If you don't have a Laser cutter / engraver, you could try this with the point of a nail and a lot more effort. A Dremel with a pointy diamond bit works nicely too. Both of these methods are quite time consuming and difficult to get a clean typeset though.
I don't actually have a laser at home either, so I took a class and did it at the Tech Shop in Menlo Park., California.
http://www.techshop.ws/
Thanks Tech Shop for all the cool classes!

Step 1: Create Your Art on the Computer

I used Adobe Illustrator to lay out the text and place it on the stone.

Step 2: Place Stone in Laser

Use props of scrap materials to hold rock in place while keeping the surface to be printed level.
Someone had been cutting out circles and the round edges were great for cradling the round stones.
It's just really important for the surface of the stone to be level so that the laser will maintain a consistent focus throughout the process.

Step 3: Print That Stone

Align laser to the center of the stone, select center engraving option in the print dialog. When you are sure the image is going to print centered on the rock, close the top and start the print.
Once the engraving is done, inspect  it to be sure the laser penetrated the surface enough. Don't move it just in case you decide to do a second or third pass. Different stones have different properties and will react differently. I did the "go away" stone with two passes and the "wipe your paws" stone got three passes and was still rather light.

Step 4: Finish Your Stone

You can fill the letters with paint if you like. I like to pick colors that compliment the stone's organic tones already.
Wash stone to be sure no oils or residue are going to contaminate paint.
Try to paint carefully with a small detail brush. I used a Tamiya acrylic paint for models.
If your rock is smooth, sanding the text  will clean up the letters edges or any sloppy painting.
You can wax it or clear coat with paint to seal in the surface, protect the etch, and help the rock show it's true colors.

Step 5: Enjoy Your Stone

Place it on your door step, in a planter box or any place you want to leave your special message. What ever you do, enjoy doing it!

Comments

author
sosullivan (author)2013-10-14

If you place wide mAsking tape down on the stone (at least wide enough to contain your text) you can make multiple laser passes as needed, then paint and remove outer masking tape while paint is wet (to protect the edges of the paint job) and then, once the paint is dry, go after any painted tape left in letter voids.

Scotchbrite lads are GREAT for this.

Then finish your stone as desired.

Just a thought....

;)

GREAT article!

author
roballoba (author)sosullivan2013-10-16

I did some today with Gaffers tape and then took them to the sand blaster. mmmm.... deep.

author
roballoba (author)sosullivan2013-10-15

Awesome tip! Thanks!

author
legodude2020 (author)2013-10-15

GO AWAY.. so inspirational. ;)

author
roballoba (author)legodude20202013-10-16

I've got instructables to write, I can't have anyone bugging me! ;-)

author
JCA100 (author)2013-10-15

Great idea, I will be off down to the beach tomorrow morning collecting stones! Thank you.

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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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