How to make wooden desk name plates with a K40 laser cutter
I recently made desk name plates for everyone at work and thought i should share my process.
- 3mm Birch wood ply
- Mahogany wood stain
- Epoxy glue
LaserDRW plugin for inkscape can be found here
Step 1: Inkscape - Draw Your Text
I made the artwork in Inkscape with letters 20mm high in a font i like called Harvestital. Be sure to set document to mm (or inches) and not pixels.
Step 2: Draw the Outline Box / Resize Document to Fix Content
Draw a box around it with rounded corners. 30mm high and 20mm padding on each end, set fill to nothing and stroke to red.
Select the text and click Path->Object to path. With the text selected set fill to nothing and stroke to red. Press CTRL+A to select everything then center it all vertically and horizontal.
Click File->Document properties, then Resize page to content.
Step 3: Save LaserDRW Zip File
Then click File->Save as, select file type "LaserDRW Zip" and OK. (see below for plugin link) Extract all the files, the only one i used was the Vector Cut file
Step 4: Setting Up the Cut
Using LaserDRW open up the "vector cut" file from the zip you saved.
I like to flip the job horizontally because the smoke generated from the cut tends to muck up the top surface more than the bottom. Do do this, click the little box labelled "mirror".
I find that 20% laser power (40W laser) at 6mm/s is plenty strong enough to cut through, it could probably go faster but i generally use this for most jobs.
I also made a 20mm square with a diagonal line through it in LaserDRW to make 2 triangle that i glue on the back as a leg to stand on.
Step 5: Staining the Wood
Cut a few out, it is handy to have the off cuts to clamp on the back piece so you can just slide the letters in place.
For the stained parts, cover the stain bottle mouth with a folded paper towel and wipe across the wood surface.
Allow 30-60 minutes for drying before handling. Use any glue (i use 2-part epoxy) to fix the letters in place.
After assembling and touch ups with sandpaper it is best to spray on some clear coat to protect the surfaces.
Some of these have the letters glued on to the backing piece, some have a bit of black vinyl across the back and the letters are just pressed in (any tape should work too).
You can get really creative with the arrangements.
I have used acrylic mirror letters in stained wood too which looks very sharp!