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Laser etching photos on wood Answered

I am using an epilog 40 watt laser to etch photos of animals on 4 x 6 pieces of wood such as cherry, maple, and bamboo. In the final product the image lacks luster and the "wow" look I am wanting.  If anyone had advice as to improving the processing and post processing, please let me know.  If I need to apply a coating in post processing, please recommend one.  I tried Olde English but wicking became an issue and the image became too dark.  

Any advice will be appreciated!

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gmoon

6 months ago

Wood stain (try different colors) and a coat or two of varnish?

Kinda like most wood projects...

I think I already suggested it in my engraving Ible but anyway:
I noticed the CO2 lasers tend to vaporise rather than just burn.
This causes a slight layer of ash, which in a good system is blow off right away.
The remainin darkening is only from the resin content in the wood.
And as you ertainly noticed the wood areas with more resin go a bit darker, same for deep etches in one go but never black or grey.
I found a workaround for more contast by using sodium silicate (crystal cat litter) dissolved in water.
If applied onto tewood and left to fully dry the etching will allow for shades of grey as the burnt silicate makes the ash stick to it.
takes a bit of playing around with the concentration, number of coats applied and of course laser power for the final step with the solution applied.
To hone in:
Too much silicate and you get a black crust that is quite hard to clean up.
Not enough silicate and you end up with a weak greyish layer that can be brushed off.
Right amount of silcte and right laser power and you can get shades of grey but they still need a coat to ptotect them from wearing off.

Too little time for too much to do, so maybe you can figure the finetuning and coloring out yourself (otherwise my Ible for it wil never make it to the finnish):
By placing some paper or thin cardboard over the engraving area, preferably with a thing layer of glue applied, you can use it to create more smoke.
If your etching is not too deep this method will allow you add very dark shades to your engraving in the final step.
Some things don't vaporise away in the laser light but rather melt and if thin enough you get the color of that material to slighlty melt into the wood.
In case you have no kids I give you another hint to get you experimenting: Crayons ;)
Best kept frozen and then sanded off to ppl a thi layer of waxy dust in the area of question, a final engraving with low power will melt it into the wood and also seal the surface.
If you find this useful and it gives you more fun then feel free to make an Instructable out f it.
I am happy if you mention me or my engraving Ible for the inspiration.

Could there be enough burn depth to print roller the high side with ink ?