View Full Version : Losing my Marbles, or least marble business

Bill Stearns
04-03-2014, 8:06 PM
Hi all -
Back to laser engraving on marble/granite for 'minute, if you don't mind. I engrave photographs on solid black marble/granite tiles that I buy at Home Depot. - the detail turns out fine, but cannot for the life of me get the pictures "brighter"! (think it's been suggested higher speed/lower power - doesn't seem to make 'difference for me.) Is the object to cut through the dark "cap" into the lighter interior of the tile? Also: I learned 'bout "Rub 'n Buff" from you all - tried the silver, today. Seems to make the picture brighter. But, not sure it would hold up to outside use of these tiles . ?? Tomorrow, plan to try different speeds 'n powers - again! But any suggestions you have - or, experience with - would be much appreciated. (will try attaching picture of one I did 'while back - BTW the lighting 'n flash make it appear much brighter than it actually is.) So ... eager to hear ideas ... thanks.


Bill Cunningham
04-03-2014, 9:30 PM
Hi Bill; Well, getting them brighter depends on whether your engraving Granite Tile or Marble Tile. Marble is easy, and almost goof proof. You can simply run it a second time and it will get whiter, but don't try this with granite it will get worse.. Marble is for indoor use only, it will oxidize badly and deteriorate over time.. Outdoor use is Granite only. For Granite, first seal it (the stone sealer H.D. sells if fine, follow the directions) Once sealed it can be etched. I use a heavier burn for text than I do for photos. Once etched, wash it off with running water. You don't want any stone dust on the surface, it will scratch. Once dry (it drys pretty quick) take a soft cloth and rub some titanium white oil paint into the etched surfaces(if you don't seal it first, this oil will creep into every micro crack and fissure). Let it sit over night, then wipe it down a bit. Do this for the next two days. On the 3rd day you can lightly polish the rest of the oil paint off the surface. At this point, I usually put two applications of Nu-finish car polish. Let each application dry to a white haze 2-3 hours or more depending on humidity. I find this puts a nice sheen on the piece, and further seals the oil paint filler on the granite. I have granite memorial stones that have been out in the sun/snow/rain for years will no ill effect. I usually tell my customers to re-polish it every year if they choose. It can't hurt.. Below are a few I have done with this method..

Dee Gallo
04-03-2014, 9:33 PM
Hi Bill,

Are you sure that is marble? I think I see the little reflective dots that indicate granite. Marble should engrave whiter than granite, so even if the label says "black marble" it might not be so.

cheers, dee

Bill Cunningham
04-03-2014, 10:45 PM
None of what 'I' posted is marble Dee.. The heart is the stuff that LaserSketch 'calls' marble but it aint, the rest is the lasersketch granite 6x10x2 and 9x12x2..The Piece that Bill posted in the original comment is indeed Granite.. I have bought both granite and Marble from H.D. in 12x12 tiles.. They usually don't have the black marble at my H.D. but usually have the brown, which also etches nicely.. You just have to be careful that the marbling does not give your subject a Hitler mustache or something..Below is a sample tile of brown marble with a bunch of stuff on it..You would be hard pressed to screw up a piece of real marble, like i said it's just about goof proof and you can etch a greyscale image directly without photograv or anything else..

Hmmm too many Bills..ha.. I just realized you were posting to Bill Stearns and not me.. Anywhoo I agree, it's Granite..:o

gary l roberts
04-03-2014, 11:54 PM
Thanks for the tips and using brown. Never tried it but will now.

Bill Stearns
04-04-2014, 11:01 AM

Guess I'll be off to Home Depot, today, for "stone sealer", Titanium paint 'n NU Finish wax! I've done quite 'few of these H Depot granite tiles, over time. But, realizing, now, it may be one of those deals where customers "say" they're okay with my work, while walking 'way thinking to themselves: "Boy, it's a dark picture." Think they turn to me for this product 'cause of cost - versus the price of actual memorial monuments thru our area's monument company. BTW: I provide my customers with a wooden form for creating their own cement footings - in to which they embed the granite tile. I must want' a produce a brighter, nicer product for 'em! So, thanks for the advice; I'll give it a try.
BTW: while I've got you - how do I insert my equipment information - so that it shows up on my posts? I searched my profile area, and can't seem to find the place to incl. this info. Thanks 'gain!


David Somers
04-04-2014, 11:20 AM

To add that info to the bottom of your posts you want to edit the signature section. You would think that would be in your profile, and it does show up there but not in an editable fashion.

Instead, log in to the forum. Look at the top right for your name. Click on that, and then on the left hand column look for signature. Click on that and you will be able to change it.


Great set of posts everyone! Thanks!!

Walt Langhans
04-04-2014, 4:37 PM
Nice workmanship Bill! The extra time and effort really makes the difference!

Bernie Fraser
11-22-2014, 5:50 PM
Bill can I ask you about your stone sealer since I do not have access to the same hardware stores. I have searched granite sealer online here in Australia and there is a company that makes two types one is water based and last up to 15 years outdoors and the other is solvent based and last up to ten years. Is the stone sealer you use a water based or solvent based product?. I had some Titanium white paint arrive this week and it is superb, much easier to work with than the other paints I had tried. I ordered some granite sealer at the same time but it has not arrived yet. So I have used the titanium paint on two test pieces and it worked fine without the granite sealer. Then I thought I would use it on a customers piece I engraved two weeks ago and the White specks show up everywhere on this piece of granite so I really need the sealer. Thank you for posting all your tips on this Bill. I did compare the results on two pieces of granite with the same image and the one without paint fill is a product I could not sell, and the paint filled and then waxed granite looks so much better.

I had originally ordered the solvent based sealer but think the water based product may be the better one to go for because it lasts up to 15 years outdoor compared to ten for the solvent sealer, does not creat a film on the surface so there will be no peeling and the roller can be washed out with water.

Thanks, Bernie

Bill Cunningham
12-07-2014, 8:23 PM
I think the stuff I use is water based. There is no smell and I think a solvent based sealer would smell. This is the same stuff you would use to seal a bathroom floor or tiled shower stall

Bernie Fraser
12-07-2014, 8:50 PM
Thanks so much, Bill.
I did end up ordering the WaterBased sealant and I just had a smell of both sealers and the solvent one smells like "dope" I use to use on control line model planes when I was a kid and the WaterBased one smells like a detergent.

Bill Cunningham
12-07-2014, 9:15 PM
Ya figured the solvent would stink..ha

Bruce Dorworth
12-08-2014, 12:03 AM
Is the granite sealer important after the image has been painted? I got the impression the the sealer was to keep the paint out of the cracks and chips. What process is everyone using to process the image for engraving on the granite?


Bernie Fraser
12-08-2014, 6:20 PM
I think you are right the sealer is just to stop the paint from filling the cracks and chips. I think there are a few different methods for processing the photo and it is a matter of testing to see which one works best for you. I open the photo in photoshop just because I am more familiar with it than CorelDraw. I desaturated the image, duplicate and then select filter other high pass setting of 20 pixels. Then select soft light as the blending mode. Merge layers and adjust brightness and contrast then resize image to output size at the resolution you are going to engrave. I use 333dpi, invert if engraving a black material like granite and save file as a PNG with no compression. Import in CorelDraw and engrave from there.

Bill Cunningham
12-24-2014, 8:06 AM
The sealer does seal the cracks and stuff before engraving & paint filling, but once engraved/washed/filled, I give it a coat of NewFinish car polish just for the extra outdoor protection, and a bit of shine