Hi! I'm Hazel, aka the Maker Girl. Today I'm going to show you how to laser engrave a name plaque for your bedroom door using pallet wood and a laser cutter/engraver. This is a really good beginner's project as it is not too long or complicated. I am writing this to show other maker kids how to get into making, but it is really for everyone! If you are a kid, make sure that you have an adult with you who knows what they are doing, and follow all of the safety information that they give you to stay safe!
You will need:
- Offcut of wood, or pallet wood
- Access to a laser cutter / engraver
- Access to a computer running LaserCut
- Hand saw or a big scary-looking sliding compound mitre saw
- A Dad or other maker to help
Step 1: Design Your Laser File
First of all, you need to create a file so that your laser knows where to engrave. I used LaserCut.
Open Lasercut, select the text tool and stretch a box on your screen. Type your text into the text box and select the font and size of font you wish to use. I used a font size of 180 and kept to the standard font because it looks good and I really haven't looked at many fonts.
When you have created your text you need to set the location where the laser will start its cut, I used the top left so that I could align it to my wood plank.
I got a little help setting up the engraving but I was told that we used 80% of the power of the laser tube so its lasts longer and that we set it to use a slow speed to cut deeper.
Step 2: Send to the Laser Cutter
Send the file to the laser cutter. The adult in charge of the laser will be able to help you set it up and will tell you any safety precautions. In particular, you need to:
- wear ear defenders (extractors and air pumps are very loud!)
- keep a watch on the laser while it is working, but not look directly at the laser
We sent the job to the laser, aligned the plank of wood and then used the auto focus for the laser. The table went up and down and touched a button, this makes the laser work correctly. It was very easy and I was told that if we had to set it ourselves I might get lost inside the laser. Getting lost inside the laser when its cutting made me worry.
I pressed the test button and the red laser showed the outline of my work on the plank. I was happy so I started the job..........................It took a long time, I was a bit bored by the end. But it smelled really nice, because when a laser is cutting or engraving, it is burning the wood away!
Step 3: Remove From the Laser and Finish
Once the laser has finished engraving, you can carefully remove the wood. The next step is to do the finishing. First you need to sand it down so it feels nice and smooth. You can sand by hand using sandpaper or you can use an electric sander, which is a lot quicker and easier! Once you have done that, you need to cut it down to size, which you can again do either by hand or with an electric saw. With both tools, you need to follow the instructions to make sure that you are safe. You will also need to wear goggles to protect you if any bits of wood fly up at you.
Sanding was one of my favourite parts!
Once you have done that, your plaque is ready! You can paint, varnish or wax it if you like, but I am happy with mine as it is. My Dad is going to fix it to my door for me using 3M command strips.
So that is it! I hope you like this instructable, I have entered it into the pallet competition so if you like it please vote for me!