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Thread: How much???

  1. #1

    How much???

    Hi

    I am commissioned to make four platters in different woods 14" across. I need the platters engraved with text, a logo and possibly a picture in the 11" center part of the platter.

    I would guess that dark woods don't display well so I was thinking maple, ash, butternut and cherry. Though I am most definitely open to suggestions.

    Is laser engraving done before, during or after a finish is applied?

    What sort of time should I plan for engraving?

    What are the price points. I would guess that part of the price is based on burn time which would be directly related to the complexity of the engraving.

    Just for a ball park figure lets say the engraving filled the 11" inner portion of the platter like the attached picture. What price range should I plan for?

    Thanks
    Attached Images Attached Images
    The Large print givith
    and the fine print takith away

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Lincoln Nebraska
    Posts
    1

    Laser engraving

    I had some laser engraving done on some pens I turned. They were engraved with the intintials of the new owners. They cost me $5 each and the shop that did it said "custom" logos were "real expensive" because they had to be programmed into the machine, if they didn't have it allready. As far as the finishing goes, he told me he wanted "naked" wood because the laser burns the design into the wood. I guess the finish could get burned or worse yet the piece could be damaged beyond repair with a cool logo engraved into it. When I did this I brought him assembled pens sans the finish and they burned in the letters. Then I brought them back to the shop and took them apart and remounted them on the mandrel for three coat of CA and buffing (that was tricky with the initials) and the I sprayed them with several coats of lacquer. Four of the pens went to different parts of South America, so I can't comment on their condition now. One of them I see every day and looks like the day it was finished. My best advise would be to talk to the shop that will do it and get the conditions and the price worked out prior to starting the project, becasue it could be hold on to your hat expensive.

    Best Regards,
    Travis Nelson

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Gloucester, VA
    Posts
    1,980
    Blog Entries
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Allen
    Hi

    I am commissioned to make four platters in different woods 14" across. I need the platters engraved with text, a logo and possibly a picture in the 11" center part of the platter.

    I would guess that dark woods don't display well so I was thinking maple, ash, butternut and cherry. Though I am most definitely open to suggestions.

    Is laser engraving done before, during or after a finish is applied?

    What sort of time should I plan for engraving?

    What are the price points. I would guess that part of the price is based on burn time which would be directly related to the complexity of the engraving.

    Just for a ball park figure lets say the engraving filled the 11" inner portion of the platter like the attached picture. What price range should I plan for?

    Thanks
    Richard,

    Laser engraving can be performed on Walnut, among other dark woods. The best woods for engraving by far are Cherry and Alder. The contrast achieved will depend highly on the wood--the more resin in the wood, the more smoke and burn, and thus a darker engraving. Walnut burns black, alder a dark gray/black, and cherry a dark brown. Purpleheart takes the cake--when it burns it looks like someone's welding (burning all that resin), forming a deep deep black engraving.

    This brings me to the next topic, which is the finish. With a dark wood, like Walnut, you won't want a finish that will darken up the wood too much, as it will significantly reduce the contrast in the engraving. Cherry and Alder are a different story. We do apply lacquer or paste wax before we engrave, rather than burning on 'naked' wood, as it prevents 'unclean' lines caused by smoke damage. With a finish or wax, any smoke damage will wipe right off with a damp cloth, whereas without it, you run the risk of a fuzzy, amateurish engraving. You can burn the wood harder for a darker engraving when it is precoated, and really bring out the engraving with paste wax after the fact. Care must be taken with unfinished wood to burn it lightly with minimal smoke damage, which doesn't produce results as striking as a dark, finished piece.

    Some other considerations in choosing your wood species are the grain. Woods like Oak, Zebrawood, etc. have darker grain which will dissolve the contrast in your engraving, making it hard to read or recognize, and oak doesn't really burn very dark anyway. Maple has a good color, but doesn't burn very dark, producing a brown.

    Another consideration when deciding whether to pre-finish is your actual graphic. If you're burning large text or line-art logos, you can afford to burn very hard and get a pristine contrast, because the smoke damage will wipe off of a finish. If burning a photograph, a faster speed and lower power is employed to maintain some shading, but the engraving will be lighter--this is another place where wood choice comes into play. Walnut is great for text, and especially looks great with an inlay. Alder and cherry are ideal when it comes to photographs, because they maintain some degree of shading. In other words, you will have more 'colors' to choose from when burning on these woods.

    Lastly, (or firstly in importance), you have to consider whether your piece can be engraved on safely. The laser head must be a particular distance from the workpiece in order to burn points with any degree of precision. If your platter is cupped on the side (like a bowl), you won't be able to engrave in the center. If the platter is reasonably flat (+- about 1 cm), there shouldn't be a problem with the focal length. This, however, is why bowls can't be engraved on the inside surface.

    As you guessed, the pricing of a laser job is split into three parts:
    1. Material prep work (and post work, like wiping off smoke damage)
    2. Graphics prep work (on average takes the longest)
    3. Actual burn time (about $1/min)

    Most materials sent to us are prepped pretty well. The graphics prep work is quite variable. Photographs, depending on the surface they are to be engraved on, require a lot of prep work in adjusting the contrast and dithering. Logos often need to be recreated in a vector format to maintain a pristine burn, which usually takes time. Lastly, text should be recreated whenever possible, as scanning introduces 'blemishes' sometimes easily caught with the eye--sometimes researching the fonts can take considerable time. I, for instance, spent near 6 hours recreating all of the components of a college diploma, including the signatures, logos, and text. Most jobs take considerably less time. Prep time for photographs can be cut less than half when starting out with a good photograph--it takes time to make a newspaper or magazine picture look like the original again.

    The complexity of an engraving isn't so much of a factor in burn time as the surface area--a 5" filled black box will take the same amount of time as a 5" box containing polka dots, with a light border. Burn time is also dependent on the quality level. (600+ DPI yields a dark, high quality burn, and is a must for text; while 300 or 400 DPI is roughly 2/3 of the time, and is acceptible for porous materials like wood, but won't be as dark and pristine). Of course, this is dependent on the job, and the end result: what the customer is comfortable with.

    Repeat jobs cut down on graphic prep. time, as small changes can be sent relatively easy to the engraver.

    An 11" engraving like you're talking probably would take about an hour of burning at 600 DPI, plus any graphic prep. time.
    _Aaron_
    SawmillCreek Administrator

  4. #4
    Richard, there is another consideration. You need to find a laser engraver large enough to accommodate the full diameter AND depth of the plates.
    Barbara in Remlik Virginia

  5. #5

    Inlay option

    Richard,

    Another option is to laser engrave the image on thin material (say 3/16") and have the laser cut it in a circle to match the inside of the platter, just like an inlay. This would also allow you to use contrasting wood such as curly maple and walnut.

    Good luck.
    Tim McGill
    5/11/04

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