View Full Version : Mirror - First Shot

Wesley Perreira
11-04-2008, 3:08 AM
I've been reading up on the forum about lasering mirrors and thought I knew enough to try one. I bought an 12 x 18 inch mirror from Ben Franklin, because the saleslady said that they only had that size. I processed a photo through Photograv and used the glass setting. It reversed the image for me (learned something new) and all appeared to be going well. I followed the Speed and Power recommendations of 100sp/80 pwr and used wet paper on the backside of the mirror. After about 40 minutes the job was finished. I checked the mirror after cleaning it up and saw the the text and logo came out very nice, however the photo was better seen from the backside. What gives? I then tried to use the original photo and inverted it. I ran it again and the photo appeared a lot more, but still not too great. I put it over my black-colored chair to see if a dark background would make a difference but it did not. I then held it up against the white-colored wall and now you could really see a better image. I decided that if a white background works well, then why not paint the backside white? I did just that with some Krylon spray paint and I think its decent, at least. I'm wondering if I could still make it better and I know it has to do with choosing how the photo is engraved. Any advice?:confused:

Frank Corker
11-04-2008, 8:03 AM
Wesley it would really help everyone if you could update your profile so that we can all see what type of laser you have. Someone who has a similar laser to yours might be able to point out any problems you are having from the word go.

When I engrave mirror, I never put the wet paper on the back. It's pointless. You have to try and engrave through the silvering in order to get a good result, the wet paper thingy will only hinder your progress. The settings that photograv are sometimes a little out of whack in my opinion and are only a guide line and not a MUST. I generally prefer to use the power settings that my manual recommends, in my case I choose the glass option and it generally fairly close to that.

The image should be a negative image which should be flipped horizontally. When you coat the back with black paint then you will have the correct image. If you do it the other way and put a positive and use white paint, you will get an image, but it will look 'strange', your eyes will only see the true image in certain lights. However if you do that you will be looking at a negative image and it will not be the correct way.

If, as in your case, you didn't get through the mirror backing far enough then if you risk another mirror, reduce your speed and keep your power at the maximum. You had too much speed which is why your image engraved beautifully on the back of the mirror, but it didn't penetrate the silvering far enough to look beautiful from the other side.

Usually working with mirrors can be a bit of a headache and they are not everyones cup of tea. Writing and eps clips, such as the logo that you have there, virtually always turn out trumps. Pictures, as you have found out, are a whole new ball game.

Tim Bateson
11-04-2008, 8:28 AM
I'm going to have to disagree with the master. I use a positive images for mirrors and paint the back black. I use negative images for etching glass.
I do agree with not using wet paper or anything else - the copper/silver backing coating is hard enough to cut through.

Another lesson learned - No two mirrors will engrave the same. You have to practice on the same type of mirror your finished work will be on. If you practice on cheap 12x12 mirrors, the setting will likely be different on a good framed mirror.

Frank Corker
11-04-2008, 8:34 AM
Tim, you are correct, my apologies. It should be a positive image. Same as for wood, but it needs to be flipped. Jeez, two mistakes this year! :confused:

Wesley Perreira
11-04-2008, 6:00 PM
Thank you so much for the clear step-by-step advice. I won't give up until I get something that looks good enough. Don't know how many mirrors I'm going to have to go through to accomplish that though...:p

Bill Cunningham
11-04-2008, 10:14 PM
If you look around, you can probably find scrap mirrors everyplace, and glass cutters are cheap and easy to use... True, they probably wont engrave the same as the ones you buy, they may be better, or they may be worse. But they 'will' give you a 'feel' for the glass, and a way to practice for what things can look like.. I have a mirror put away, 3' x 5' that was part of a bedroom dresser my wife and I bought when we first got married (40 years ago).. The mirror is absolutely perfect, not a flaw or a waver of distortion anyplace on the surface.. I'm saving it for that 'perfect' potential job that may never show up:D