This Instructable will show you how to laser engrave work stools.
- Laser engraver (ours is a Full Spectrum 5th Gen. 40W Laser)
- Stool with removable seat (ours were purchased from a large popular Swedish chain)
- Graphic image (we used a .xps file created in Adobe Illustrator)
- Painters tape
- Marking pen
- X-acto knife
- Disposable gloves
- Cordless drill
- Polyurethane stain
Step 1: Laser Set-Up
This Instructable assumes you've already set-up your laser engraver to your manufacturer's instructions with a safe ventilation system and fire extinguisher nearby. Our Full Spectrum 5th Gen. 40W Laser comes with software we've downloaded onto the connected laptop so the laser is ready to etch the graphic we've created.
Place the stool seat onto the laser bed and make sure it is secure and level.
Our laser has been calibrated with the stock focusing lens which gives the greatest resolution with the project surface set 2 inches below the lens. Full Spectrum provided a metal billet we place on the project surface and manually adjust the focusing lens to the correct height.
Step 2: Material Test
To determine the laser speed and power settings we wished to use for this project, we ran a material test on the backside of the stool seat that wouldn't be visible once assembled.
Full Spectrum's software called Retina Engrave includes the material test under the "Hobby 20x12" tab.
After running the test, we liked the look of 70% raster power at 14% raster speed and entered these settings into the "Control Panel" for our project.
Step 3: Surface Preparation
We apply painters tape to the surface to be etched because the laser can leave smoke marks and residue adjacent to the etched area.
To center the graphic on the seat, we measured the seat and the graphic and determined the graphic origin needed to be 3/4" down and 1-1/2" from the left edge. We used a ruler and marked the origin as seen in the picture as a cross. We also marked a line on the right side of the seat 3/4" down to prevent skew.
Step 4: Laser Alignment
We put the taped and marked seat into the laser and jogged the gantry to our marked origin on the left. Once the left was aligned, we jogged the laser to the right to verify it was travelling in a straight line from the origin to the marked line. Now the laser was fully adjusted to the correct lens height, power, speed, and alignment so we closed the lid and pressed start.
Step 5: Laser Etching and Stool Assembly
While the laser etched our graphic into the seat, we assembled the rest of the stool per manufacturer's instructions within sight of the laser. Do not leave your laser unattended while running due to it being a fire hazard.
Step 6: Project Completion
Once the laser completed etching, we removed the seat from the laser and pulled off the big sheets of tape. For the small tape pieces, we found an X-acto knife and a fingernail worked best for picking the tape off the seat. However, the residue on the tape from the laser stained our skin and fingernails so we recommend wearing disposable gloves during this process.
Once all the tape was removed, we attached the seat to the stool and our project was complete.
To protect the seats we lightly sanded the top and applied a polyurethane coating.
Step 7: Final Notes
This project took about 2 hours from unboxing to attaching the etched seat. Also, we noticed that wood grain and color did affect the final appearance of our graphic. In the picture, we have two seats bought at the same location that were run on a laser within an hour of each other but there is a color variation between them.