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Thread: Photograv Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Saratoga, CA

    Question Photograv Question

    I'm a newbie here and am about to venture into the whole laser woodworking gig. Just bit the bullet and bought a used laser a few days ago. I know, I know, used things aren't good. But I wasn't prepared to spend the $20k for a 30W laser. Mine cost $8k, still big investment and I hope like heck I didn't make a big mistake.

    Anyway, one of the things I'd like to do is some of those great photos engraved on black marble and nice wood plaques. I'm an old woodworker, so one of my goals is to augment my woodworking with engraved photos. My question is this, I have corel draw and photoshop, both great programs and more capability than I could ever master, but I'm a pretty good hack. I can make half tone photos and have no problem using corel draw to send them to my laser. But I'm read many say that photograv does some things that are pretty hard if not impossible to do in photoshop. Is this true? Since one of the things I plan to do is lots of engraved photos, is it worth the $400 investment to get it? I've read all the specs, but one that I haven't seen is a comparison between a photo done of photoshop and the same photo done on photograv. What really is the difference? Is there something really different besides maybe saving some time?

    Another interesting question. Has anyone tried using Smoke Wood's dry colors? The web site says you engrave the image on wood as normal but then you sprinkle the color on the engraving and then do a low power fast laser run to set the colors. Has anyone played with that? It looks like a nice way to add color to a plaque. I know one can use foil or color film, but I have some strange ideas that would not lend themselves to using film.

    As a newbie, I hope you will endulge me on this long post. Since I bought the laser, I need to make some money to pay for it. I plan to begin marketing my services and products. Might I ask how others have done this and are there any methods that people have found that work better than others. I have many ideas, but I'd like to concentrate my efforts in a few good directions rather than a shot gun approach. Help me out, please

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Grand Marais, MN. A transplant from Minneapolis
    Welcome Newbie Great folks here in the creek!
    Live Like You Mean It.

  3. #3
    Welcome Dan,
    There are a lot of great people here and a lot of great information to be had.
    Kevin W. Huffman II
    Pinnacle Laser

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    North English, Iowa


    Hi Dan!

    Although I had some experience with lasers several years ago, I'm still a newbie having just bought my own 35 watt mini but I've learned a great deal thanks to the helpful people on this and other boards.

    At first I really didn't want to spend the money on Photograv either because I thought I could figure it out on my own having a fair amount of experience with Photoshop. My laser arrived a few days before the Photograv software did so that gave me some time to play around and prove that theory wrong. At least in my case it was well worth the money because it saved A LOT of time, headache and scrapped material. Having said that, now that I've had more time to play around in Photograv, Photoshop and Corel I might be able to do a better job just in Photoshop but in my opinion I'd rather let the software do it for me since I use several different materials. In your case if you're primarily doing only wood you might be able to get by, but the best advice I can give is practice, practice, PRACTICE!

    I started working a lot with black marble and finally got very good results. When I attempted to do the same on wood it was much more difficult. Although, the photo I used wasn't the best quality so remember, garbage in, garbage out. I'm still practicing with wood but have been doing a lot of photos on metal, glass, marble, and granite.

    I have not used Smoke Wood's dry colors and am interested in hearing from those who have. I've been using shoe polish to color fill my wood. Another big help is Johnson's Paste Wax - it really helps minimize the smoke residue left on the wood and helps achieve an even burn.

    Good luck and never be afraid to ask questions. Everyone here is very patient and helpful, especially with us new people! Go back and read previous posts, you'll find a wealth of information.

    Etched in Time Engraving

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Tidewater, VA
    Hi Dan -

    Welcome to the Creek. Pull up a stump, it is a great place to hang out and dangle your feet. Lots og good folks here to share ideas.

    Don't forget to wander out into some of the other forums here, too.


  6. #6
    Hi Dan,

    I've played around with the Smoke Wood a bit, and like the results when I want to darken an image a bit. I haven't had great luck with "setting" the powder with a second run, but prefer to just brush on the powder. You can see a sample of this being done at

    Good Luck!

    James Stanaway
    Epilog Laser

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Maui, Hawaii


    Hi Dan,
    I have had a chance to see photograv work.
    My suggestion is if you have the time to work the photos yourself, you can get more than acceptable results. ( photo's processed with photograv have to be imported into corel anyway). HOWEVER, if your intent is to make money at this, remember the adage, "time is money". So ask yourself if the time that photograv would save you over the long haul, is worth the price. If the answer to that question is YES, then you have your answer.

    You know what they say about advice. It's worth exactly what you pay for it. So should I send you a bill? ( Insert laugh here).

    Good luck and welcome to the creek.

    Chuck Burke
    Pacific LaZer Works

    P.S. There are several other great forums around. If you would like some links I would be happy to give them to you. Send me a message.

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