Introduction: Lucky Pebbles

Picture of Lucky Pebbles

Etch words on stones to carry in your pocket or give to a friend. 

This is another quick and easy project to make on a laser cutter. (I just joined TechShop, and I now have access to all kinds of wonderful equipment, so this is one in a series of "I made it at TechShop" Instructables.) This project assumes that you have already  had some training on safety and basic use of your particular model of laser cutter. My directions are based on my experience with a Trotech machine, but they are basically agnostic - they should work whether you are using an Epilog or Trotech machine.

Step 1: Materials:

Picture of Materials:
Here are the materials I used:
  • pebbles from the beach
  • soap and water
  • some canola oil

These were my tools:
  • Adobe Illustrator, for creating the words
  • a Trotech 100-watt laser cutter
  • paper towels

Step 2: Preparation:

Picture of Preparation:
  • Go to the beach. (Or a construction site.)
  • Look at the horizon. 
  • Breath deeply.
  • Listen.
  • Think of words and ideas that matter to you.
  • Pick up some smooth flat stones and put them in your pocket.
  • Wash them with soap and water when you get home.

Step 3: Etching:

Picture of Etching:

Prepare a vector file with a single word in it. Size the word to fit on one of your pebbles. Format the file for your laser cutter. 

Place your pebble flat on the cutting bed.

Use a focusing jig to be sure the laser is the correct distance from the pebble.

Set your power and speed settings to the default for Stone > Granite. After your word has etched once, open the laser cutter and look carefully at your stone without touching it. Is the word etched deeply enough? If not, you may want the laser to make another pass to etch it more deeply. Depending on the color of the stone, I went with 2, 3, or 4 passes.


Step 4: Polishing:

Picture of Polishing:

This step is optional. I didn't do anything fancy to polish my pebbles. I noticed some canola oil in the kitchen, and put a tiny bit on a paper towel. I rubbed that on the pebble, and the etched word appeared slightly darker. Over time, I imagine that the natural oils of your hand and the soft cloth of your pocket would have the same effect.

Step 5: Giving Away:

Picture of Giving Away:

These are wonderful to keep in your pocket, but even more wonderful to give away. They are just pebbles, but they make people happy.

Comments

quadracer (author)2013-05-09

Please leave some where you got them from, So I can go find them!!! Like a treasure hunt :P

egp (author)quadracer2013-05-15

That's a great idea... not sure when I'll be back at that particular beach, but I love the idea of returning some of them after etching.

quadracer (author)2013-05-09

I know right where this photo was taken.

Scarface Claw (author)2013-04-25

Looks great! The effect on slate is really good too - you can get some good results engraving photos. You could put them back on the beach for people to find!

egp (author)Scarface Claw2013-04-26

Oh, I love the idea of leaving some on the beach again...

artworker (author)2013-04-23

Super cool! This ible will be the pioneer of a new business trend!

egp (author)artworker2013-04-24

Go for it! They'd be great party favors, I think.

dpoulson (author)2013-04-24

What a fantastic idea. I'm going to be trying this with my el cheapo chinese laser cutter this weekend I think. :)

egp (author)dpoulson2013-04-24

So glad you like it! I discovered that it was possible by exploring the default settings of the laser cutter I was using. Saw settings for "stone," and thought, "Hmm...."

Have fun.

nkuta (author)2013-04-23

Thats a really cute Idea, I do something like that except I take broken pieces of pottery, and with permanent marker, I write inspirational quotes, or feelings quotes and lay them around my trees and flowers, so when someone walks around in my back yard, or front yard, they stop and sometimes take-in the quote that catches their eye. It's usually that quote that the person needs at that moment to help them make a difficult decision in their life at the time.

egp (author)nkuta2013-04-24

Thanks! I did something similar for a friend, with a larger flat stone. There is a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson we both love, so I engraved that for her.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Elizabeth Perry posts a drawing every day at http://www.elizabethperry.com .
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