Picture of Remove laser etching residue from wood

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When etching wood on a laser etcher, the process can leave a residue on the surface. Many people recommend placing masking tape on the surface prior to etching. This will certainly work, but then you are left with having to remove small pieces of tape, and the power and focus of the laser may need to be adjusted to account for the extra thickness of tape. You can also lightly sand the surface after etching, but you may loose fine detail.

So let's look at this scientifically. What is the problem exactly?

Many people mistakenly believe that soot or smoke has been deposited on the surface. This is absurd. The smoke and soot particles rise from the surface, and are vacuumed away from the work piece and vented from the equipment.

The next time you laser etch a piece of wood, take a good look and feel of the residue.

Is it shiny? I've never seen shiny soot. Have you?

Is it sticky? I've never felt sticky soot. Have you?

What runs up and down, inside a tree? Hint.... you probably had it on your last stack of pancakes.

What happens when you fry onions?

You don't think of onions as being sweet, but they do contain sugar, which caramelizes with the heat. The same goes with the wood in the laser etcher. The residual sugars in the wood are released, caramelized and are deposited on the surface of the wood.

But never fear.... good old fashioned white distilled vinegar on a clean rag with take it right off!



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fred2711 months ago
Very useful to know. Thank you.

thank you

dermilov6 months ago

спасибо за совет !

lime3D (author)  dermilov6 months ago

вы можете

GrandmaKelly8 months ago

It totally works! I've only had my laser for a couple of weeks. You probably saved me a ton of money in masking products. Thank you!

pwilkins8 months ago

Mr. Clean sponges work quite well too. :) I'll try the vinegar too.


dpoulson9 months ago

Brilliant tip, blue tape removal is such a pain, so will see how well it turns out with this technique.

noel0leon11 months ago

Nice! Tape removal was always such a chore. Do you think it would work on things like particle board and/or MDF? Normally these materials swell up when exposed to moisture.

lime3D (author)  noel0leon11 months ago

I don't think I would try it only anything but "real" wood, but you could give it a try on a piece of scrape.

noel0leon lime3D11 months ago
Will do, thanks!
VitaminX11 months ago

I don't understand anything, but i Loved the design...... :)

lime3D (author)  VitaminX11 months ago

Thanks. lime3D provides product design services.

tr6canuck11 months ago

Sweet!! Why don't the teachers know this?

lime3D (author)  tr6canuck11 months ago

I can't answer that. Some teach from materials that are prepared for them, and some teach from professional and life experiences. I figured it out through observation and deductive reasoning.

If you find this useful, don't forget to vote for it!

EoinM1711 months ago

Same thing can happen when using a pyrographer on wood to hand burn a design onto the surface, especially when you go over a knot. This is a handy trick, I'll use it next time. Thanks!

lime3D (author)  EoinM1711 months ago

It would be interesting to see if it works. With a pyrographer, you are actually burning the wood, right? With a laser etcher, it is consuming the wood.

EoinM17 lime3D11 months ago

Yeah, I guess you would just be burning the wood, but depending on the setting/heat, the pyrographer can leave quite a deep groove in the wood.

Attmos11 months ago

Thanks for posting. There are so many projects that I think would look much better without the black residue.

jpiteegorn11 months ago

Very useful to know. Thank you.

NTT11 months ago
This is very handy to know. Thank you!