Got a cheap set of drawers? are they a bit bland? here is a good way to add some excitement to them using a Lasercutter at Techshop
Step 1: Make the Pattern
Find or make a big juicy b&w image.
Take measurements of the drawers you will be engraving, and make sure the size of your image matches in photoshop.
My dresser has a set of 8 6.5x 23.75 drawers with a .5" void inbetween the drawers so i thought it would be cool to make that a break in the pattern with a gradient on either side. The image I made is shown below
Spoiler alert: the gradients didn't turn out so well. I'd recommend making all the pixels strictly black OR white
Step 2: Chop It Up!
Next step is to chop it up and bring it into illustrator with a file the size of a single drawer for lasering
I found that the easiest way to to this was to use photoshop's marquee tool with a fixed size (the size of your drawer) to select and copy drawer-sized chunks of the image out of photoshop, and paste them 1 by 1 into illustrator. Give each one its own layer.
Learn from my mistake, and DON'T be tempted to oversize the chunks to get a borderless-print type of finish. It just makes it easier to miss missalignment!
Step 3: Laser Time!
With the pattern for each of your drawers in its own layer, its now time to get it etched onto the wood surface!
My favorite way to get the laser bed aligned is by etching a rectangle on a piece of cardboard the same size as my object (drawer) and then setting it perfectly on top before focusing- but if you prefer aligning another way thats probably just as well.
Raster engraving each one takes a loooong time, but if you have the patience to do it all right it will pay in the quality of the result!
Step 4: Results
Shown below is my final result!
a couple of my mistakes you can learn from :
-the jagged pattern overlayed on the right hand side of a number of the drawers was (unfortunately) not intentional. The laser unit i was using for several of the faces had some problem that was causing the beam to be weaker toward the right side of the bed. It just so happend to be the right combination of 'looks cooler that way' / 'too lazy to fix it' for me to just leave it that way.
-Don't use gradients on a veneer! stick with black or white unless you are sure it will look good with your source material
-If you look closely you can see that the alignment is off in a few areas. As mentioned in step 2, I had the laser print a slightly oversized version of my raster thinking this would make things nicer. In theory it should have, but didn't. I may repaint&fix this when i get the chance.
I made this at Techshop!