View Full Version : HELP can someone tell me what i'm doing wrong

George McGinnis
12-16-2008, 6:58 PM
Hi everyone
I'm trying to cut out a vector ornament using 1/4 birch ply. The only thing I'm getting is burnt wood. Im using a design off the board here. I have a 30 watt epilog radius. The santa image engraves fine but the vector part is being a real pain.

Hope someone can help get my settings right.

Tim Bateson
12-16-2008, 7:14 PM
Depends on the ply. Some are impossible to cut depending on the glue. WHat settings are you using? Try 6/90/500 or 12/90/500 x 2 passes

George McGinnis
12-16-2008, 7:52 PM
My settings are 8 speed 88power auto on the rate. My rate selection on goes to 100 on manuel.

Darren Null
12-16-2008, 8:35 PM
1) try turning the frequency down a bit
2) if you have air assist, turn it on.

Larry Bratton
12-16-2008, 8:58 PM
Hi everyone
I'm trying to cut out a vector ornament using 1/4 birch ply. The only thing I'm getting is burnt wood. Im using a design off the board here. I have a 30 watt epilog radius. The santa image engraves fine but the vector part is being a real pain.

Hope someone can help get my settings right.
Quarter inch birch plywood is tough stuff. I just made a 100 wood coasters and with my 40 watt, I never did get the edges not to burn on the vector, but that didn't really bother me. Biggest problem was getting this stuff flat. I ended up taking 24" x 36" pieces (laser table size) masked them on the back with polyester film then bradded them down to a piece of 1/2" mdf. Then I rastered and vectored them on that. The film on the back keeps the tar and residue from discoloring where they are down flat on the cut out.
Also, I sealed and varnished them first on the engraved side. That's almost an imperative if you want them to end up being decent quality.

George McGinnis
12-16-2008, 9:06 PM
I guess it is just not my night. I'll try turning the rate down, hopefully that helps.

Sandra Force
12-16-2008, 10:34 PM
Make sure that you have a good ply that doesn't have voids in the core. That will cause burn.:confused:

Rodne Gold
12-17-2008, 12:15 AM
There is a secret to cutting "wood" ornaments and the like.
We found plys and real woods FAR too variable for any consistency and the warpage factor was a major problem. Our solution was to us Light density "mdf" as a core and to have both front and back veneered. This makes for exceptionally easy cutting , even with lower powered lasers and very easy engraving plus a far better overall finish. We keep stock of popular woods like rosewood , ash , birch etc and often do some exotic woods , we find that results are consistent and it looks just like the real thing (well it is , its a veneer) and is a whole lot cheaper.
When we store the uncut pieces , we stack em horizontally and lay a heavy weight on the stack to stop any bowing.

John Lane
12-17-2008, 6:03 AM
I have tried vector cutting dozens of different types of exterior grade plywoods and they all leave a sooty residue on the cut edge. Adjusting the laser settings will not eliminate this problem as it due to the type of glue (WPB) used to bond the layers together.

When using lightweight internal grade plywood the cut edge is light brown in colour and there is no soot. I use a 3 ply poplar plywood, the type used to make cheap 3D model kits, and get a fast clean cut from 12" x 18" sheets.

Of the many types of MDF I have tested only one has also been found to produce a clean edge but this cuts very slowly in comparison.

I use a high power exhaust and a honeycomb grid to produce enough vacuum to keep slightly warped plywood flat during cutting.

Burn marks caused by the laser beam bouncing off the honeycomb can be eliminated by masking the face and then cutting face down.

Jim Good
12-17-2008, 8:24 AM
Rodney, do you have some pictures of some of your ornaments? How do the edges look with the mdf and veneer? Do you do any finishing of the veneer? Your "secret" is an interesting approach! I can see where it would save money depending on the type of wood veneer you choose versus a thicker piece of the same wood!


Mike Null
12-17-2008, 9:47 AM

George Perzel sells some very nice solid wood thins which cut like butter and look very good as ornaments.


Larry Bratton
12-17-2008, 11:19 AM
Good question Jim...Rodne..how do you finish the edges??

I buy some of that alder that Lasebits sells. It cuts and engraves very nice, but as wide as it is available is 4". I have seen some like 6" wide, but it doesn't have a finish on it like the Laserbits stuff. Wish I could find a source for it, wider and with the finish. Alder isn't a very big tree to begin with, thus the narrow width.

Tom Cole
12-17-2008, 1:03 PM
I got mine from Colorado Heirloom. You can get a really nice assortment of wood and several widths.

Rodne Gold
12-17-2008, 1:17 PM
The edges of any wood cut with lowish power lasers will always have a huge heat affected zone.
We leave it as such , so long as the "blackened" edges dont rub off when handling it.
i dont have pics , and am closed now till 12/1 (work wise) but will take pics at a later stage
We went this route cos we werent limited to plank width etc and of course consistency...
Storage issues of course apply the same than to wood , dry and flat.....
We have the sheets cut to the max our largest laser can do , approx 850 x 500mm and cut down from there for smaller projects with our table saw.
Last I remember it was about $12 for a piece that size with rosewood , It was about the same price per sq meter as , let's say , lasermax plastic. (PS in our neck of the woods engravers brass is cheaper per sq meter than gold engraving plastics so all our badge backing are cut in brass , at the same price as if they were plastic!!!)
We dont treat the veneers prior to engeraving but use paper based application tape on the surfaces and just laser thru that (similar to masking tape) and just rub it off after , solving any surface staining issues. If you moisten the tape before removing with a dampish cloth , it comes off with a simple rub and you arent picking out pieces here and there ...........
We just use a furniture oil or pledge or something like that to clean it all after.
If you mask your wood before lasering , you save a huge amount of clean up later and can spray paint colours etc.

We also have little success in cutting plys and mdf so our cores are very light/low density fibreboard and with 30w , 1/4 " is juuuustttttttt manageable without it becoming a dogs breakfast.

We use mdf however to do masters or "moulding" work , cos you can get a very fine finish on mdf if you engrave it , engraved surfaces are consistent even if you go deep , ridging isnt pronounced and you dont get the crusty deposits and hardened remelt like you get in perspex.
We do have some nice CnC engravers and routers , so use those to cut thick stuff and use the laser to finish mostly.

The whole point of a laser and wood is to give a "branded" effect , so if you produce wood that clean and HAZ (heat affected zone) free , you might as well have screenprinted the image and used a far cheaper tool to cut it. If you want to do industrial work in wood such as cutting , engraving for die rule insertion etc , you need 250W+ , cant be done with our "decorative toys"