I made it at TechShop
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!