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Thread: Oak floor boards

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Oak floor boards

    I did a search for oak , but seems its too short search on

    I have access to a quantity of solid oak floorboards (new) and wondered if they would be any good laser onto? They appear to have some sort of sealer/varnish on them and I could quite easily cut them to size for plaques etc.

    I can also lay hands on some with an oak top layer and plywood core, which won't look so good when cut to size but could be used for something.

    I did read somewhere that oak might not b good to laser onto, but wasn't quite sure why.

    Be interested to know what you think, otherwise they may end up as firewood which will be a shame as they have nice grain patterns and colour.

    Cheers DJ

    (as previous posts - I don't have a laser here as yet otherwise I'd try it myself - thought I'd get some expert opinions rather than waste my time if its no good to laser onto)

  2. #2
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    Depends on exactly what you're engraving. The grain is too coarse for fine detail/photos, but decent-sized lettering and logos work fine.

    And if the stuff is cheap/free, makes good practice material when you're starting out.
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  3. #3
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    Sounds a really good find!

    Make plaques, signs etc. from it.
    It should take lettering down to 3 or 4mm high without any problems and will be OK for fairly bold logos etc.

    They sometimes put very fine sand or rock dust in the varnish on floorboards to make them more wear resistant. Not really a problem though - just up the power a bit.
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  4. #4
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    Oak is hard is part of the reason for not lasering it, expensive as well. Why not just try a piece in your friends machine to a see if you like the results? Or give a local engraver $30 to try?
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  5. #5
    I engrave a fair bit of oak, mostly red oak. Biggest problem with oak is that the light/dark growth rings are quite prominent and different so you won't get uniform engraving across the grain. With tweaking of your settings you typically can get the softer part to engrave well with good contrast but the harder part won't. Trying to get the harder part to engrave well results in burning the softer part and you still might not get good contrast on the harder part. Taking the beam a bit out of focus can help, but don't expect uniform and high quality results. Mostly, I'm engraving a logo and some text and the customer likes the "rustic" variable look so, even though I wouldn't brag about the results, good enough...

  6. #6
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    I laser Mesquite which is a lot harder then oak and its awesome to laser.
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  7. #7
    Hardness alone isn't the issue, it's the size of and variation across the growth rings. Fairly tight and uniform density can work reasonably well, whereas wider grain and non-uniform density is more problematic.

  8. #8
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    You all know a lot more about oak laser engraving than I do. However hardness does equal more time, more time means my laser is more tied up. More tied up means it cannot do other jobs and I get backlogged. So I avoid very hard woods for that reason and also the cost of the wood itself is higher than others. Oak is a beautiful wood though, if I had more time, or if customers were willing to pay more for it to offset my costs , I'd do more.
    Last edited by Keith Winter; 10-22-2015 at 4:07 PM.
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  9. #9
    I have have done a bit of oak engraving. Varnished it first, engraved it about 1mm deep and then used a dark stain in the lettering, the stain wipes off the varnished wood and results in a good contrast.
    image.jpg
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  10. #10
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    That makes sense I guess,mesquite is very tight grained I can even engrave the end grain.


    Quote Originally Posted by Glen Monaghan View Post
    Hardness alone isn't the issue, it's the size of and variation across the growth rings. Fairly tight and uniform density can work reasonably well, whereas wider grain and non-uniform density is more problematic.
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  11. #11
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    Julian, those are nice. I would be curious as to 1) the specific varnish and stain used and 2) after engraving and prior to applying stain, did you seal the engraved area with anything like a spray lacquer or such? I have been successful increasing the contrast of wood engravings (even of photos) using spray paint before removing the transfer-tape masking. However, when I have tried using stains, I get unacceptable bleeding of the stain into the wood pores even when I seal after engraving and prior to applying stain. I never engrave as deep as a mm. Maybe that is part of the reason. I would really love to be able to reliably use a wipe on stain process.
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  12. #12
    They have a couple of coats of water based varnish on them before engraving. I don't mask, just engrave then use a water based stain or wood dye. I just wipe the excess off with paper towels, no bleeding that I have seen.
    Shenhui SG350 fitted with a 60w tube.
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  13. #13
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    Thanks for the replies chaps - that sounds like a resounding yes. The signs look great.

    the stuff I'm talking about I believe is French Oak, it's got a nice figure and by the looks of it a tight grain so might look nice. It also has a smooth finish so I assume a grain filler has been used.

    somethinf definitely worth having a go with.

    cheers

    dj

  14. #14
    I've been doing a bunch of some wood that I'm told is rosewood. It definitely has a reddish color, but there's some non-obvious difference from piece to piece that makes some produce excellent contrast and others no contrast. I had eventually resorted to very low power and slow, to best ensure "toasting" the wood, yet still had some pieces that produced almost no color change. Recently switched processes on that, hitting the wood with a swipe of wax, then engraving 10-12 times faster than before with about 10 times more power, quick spray of a stain and immediately wipe away excess from waxed surface, then a quick buff/polish. Takes slightly less (if I don't dawdle) or slightly more (if I'm daydreaming) time per piece but the results are better and more consistent. Unfortunately, I can't do that with the oak pieces because they are (supposed to be) unfinished...

  15. #15
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    Dave, a good portion of my work is oak, some of it very old (many hundreds of years old), some new, mostly European oak but also a bit of American White oak.
    As already mentioned, oak is no good for engraving fine detail into, but the contrasts on a decently deep engrave can be very pleasant. The grain can be most prominent in the engraved area, a little like the peaks and troughs of the Himalayas. Here is an example of a large garden bench recently completed for a client out of ancient oak from the roofing timbers of a Deer Barn:

    Colonial Classics UK.jpg
    One of the things to be aware of in “reclaimed” timber is the super abundance of steel, the older the wood the more pig iron, the newer, the more nails and screws.

    Kind regards, John
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