View Full Version : Lasers are the best Scrollsaws ever

Nick Silva
08-28-2003, 11:20 AM
Hello All,
This is Nick Silva in Garland, TX. I want to thank Keith for inviting me here. I've got a 45 watt Universal Laser System M300 model. First and foremost, I am a woodturner and the original intent for my laser was for augmenting some woodturnings. I have expanded from there, especially since it is SO MUCH easier to do scroll work with the laser.

I got inspired by Gary Brownings book on creating scrollsawn portraits and have been creating my own patterns since. The following is one of mine. Very easy to do in Photoshop. I'll try to put up some picts of some woodturnings and leather work as I get them done. peace.


Noah Alkinburgh
08-28-2003, 11:26 AM

Since you have only been a member for one day I want to know how you managed to get a picture laser engraved of the "chat room regulars" from SMC :D

Thanks for sharing...


Linda Tetreault
07-14-2004, 3:46 PM
Nick, I have a wealth of designs for my scroll saw, I was hoping I could use them on a laser, is there a way to scan a design & convert it for the laser? Keeping in mind that I have decided to get a laser, just not which one yet, is there a simple answer, other than "not in this lifetime". TIA

Linda Tetreault

Aaron Koehl
07-14-2004, 3:57 PM

There are a number of methods of making laserable scrollsaw patterns.
The field which you are referring is "vectorizing". There are a number of related threads in this forum about vectorizing existing graphics.

The most recommended software titles here thus far are CorelDraw (CorelTrace) and EuroVector. I have had the most luck preprocessing large scans in Photoshop prior to "tracing" them in CorelTrace.

The graphics for the dragon and "fishy" (also found on this forum) are cut via the laser, and traced using CorelDraw. The pre-trace work was done with a bitmap graphics editor.

Linda Tetreault
07-14-2004, 8:46 PM
OK, I understand the raster file needs to be vectorized to send to the laser (correct?). If you were doing a photograph you wouldn't "redraw" into a vector file, & so why couldn't you use the same technique to do a line drawing. Is it because of the difference of cutting or engraving. This will probably be really simple a year from now, but right now I might as well be speaking a foreign language.:confused:

Linda Tetreault

Keith Outten
07-15-2004, 6:47 AM

You can send both vector and raster lines to the engraver individually or at the same time in a drawing.

Vector lines are those you wish the laser to cut and raster lines are those you wish to engrave. Normally your photographs and detailed graphics will be raster lines which is what a bitmap graphic is anyway. Raster files can be sent directly to the engraver just like any printer, the laser will mark the surface of the material and engrave the photo on the surface just like the original photograph.

You can have both raster and vector in the same drawing, thus when sent to the engraver it will run the raster (photo) portion first then cut the vector lines last. For instance if you had a small photograph and wanted to engrave it on a circle you would place your circle around the photo in the drawing and make sure it is a vector line. After engraving the photo the laser will cut the circle.

The nice thing about vector lines is that they can be resized any time you prefer without a reduction in line quality. Raster images must be scanned at the size you need for the job, resizing raster images after they are scanned will generally decrease the line quality and make the jaggies even worse.

So, generally speaking you don't convert photographs or detailed graphics to vector lines, if you did they would be cut instead of engraved. I don't want to muddy the water but there are times when you would prefer a vector drawing as your original knowing that you can select a vector line in your drawing and change the thickness of the line so that it will engrave instead of cut.

Scroll saw drawings are an exception to the rule, the object is to cut all the lines so converting a scroll saw drawing to vector lines is what you want to do. Once converted you can make multiple sizes of the drawing without losing line quality. You could scan one fish and them make three fish of different sizes by simply adjusting the drawing for each fish.

When I work on a drawing I normally make all the vector lines red, this way I can visually see which lines will be engraved and which lines will be cut. Believe me this is a real problem and it is frustrating when you watch the laser cut out a major portion of your job that was only supposed to be engraved :)

Hope this helps clear up at least some of the confusion, don't worry this will be second nature to you in no time. Laser engravers are just expensive printers, the real work is learning to create and manipulate your graphics files.

The second half of the equation involves the workshop and this is where a woodworker has a major advantage over most engraving businesses. Having the ability to make your own plaques and cut a wide variety of materials means a woodworker can offer custom services that others may not. Most engraving shops can only order engraving stock from catalogs. A woodworker could easilly engrave a black marble tile and inlay it into your favorite table top or build you a custom table with engraved trim, not so at conventional engraving shops :)