« Pedal to the Metal | Main | Bye Bye Love »

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Very nice. We have a CNC rounter at work that I'm attempting to use to make some wood type. If you're going to stick with plywood, get some 5/8" thick Baltic Birch plywood. This is aircraft grade. It has more plys all of the same grade wood with no voids. You can glue two pieces together in a larger sheet (a vacuum press works well here)and then run it through a wide belt sander to bring it to type high. These will have either a digital or other readout that is easily adjustable in decimal increments. If you want to apply a hard finish afterwards you could always do that seperately.

If you wanted to try a hardwood, you may want to avoid cherry with the laser as it's notorious for burning even with regular woodworking tools. I don't know how it would work with a laser but hard maple might be a better choice and it is also harder and can be finished to a smoother surface. If you do go with hardwodd, do a glue-up of several pieces, alternating the direction of the growth rings as in a table top so it will be more stable. As a fellow cabinetmaker Glendon will know what I mean.

Cutting into endgrain on hard maple is another option and is the way wood type is actually made but also requires glue-ups except for the smallest pieces.

Thanks Rich! I knew you would have some good advice with this -we'll definitely check out the Baltic Birch plywood.
I think Glendon is planning on testing all sorts of different hard wood, so we shall see how those work with the laser.

I keep coming back to look at the print and block. It's pretty cool and the laser did a great job.

A note from Winking Cat Press-

Great work! I'm glad to see that my original post on Briar Press has inspired others to try the technique. My shop has been having great success using lasers, and I am hoping that by learning from each other, we as a community can bring the technique to full development.

We have experimented with plywood quite extensively, and we do not like it. The surface is a bit too soft and grainy, even with high quality material, to support very fine type or details. We've also used a number of different woods including maple, poplar, white pine, and cherry. The cherry works the best, maple second best and poplar third. The fact that cherry chars is actually an advantage... with a laser it produces VERY sharp edges. All of them work, but the harder woods carry the best detail.

About the "type high" problem, it's not a big deal. 3/4" high material can easily be shimmed up using a 1/8" piece of masonite and a sheet of chipboard. We've got a proof press with this shim permanently installed, and we never have to worry about it.

About laser strength- the 40w machine does cut the wood well, but a 75w would be faster.

Keep up the good work!

a.k.a Winking Cat Press

Hi Dave and Rich,
Glendon here. Thanks for the feedback and advice. Of course I was a little embarrassed to have knowledgable printers looking at my non-reversed, non-inverted block but we were really excited by how well it worked so Maggie went ahead and posted it.

I have actually become increasingly fond of that plywood. Since Maggie posted I found some shimming material that is just the right thickness (brings it up to .920") I should point out that it is pretty high quality stuff (no voids) with what I am fairly sure is maple veneer on both sides, sanded very smooth with a factory sprayed satin finish (polyester maybe?). This was not by design but because there happened to be 2 full sheets of it lying around and unlike other available stuff it was already flat. Still I think it was fortuitous. I remain anxious for the schools woodshop to reopen so I can plane some cherry and test that out but I was really amazed at the detail and the quality of the impression that the plywood gave.

I am sure there is cherry in my future but this is good enough for me to use while I hone my Adobe Illustrator skills.

Anyway, thanks to you both. Dave, your posts have already helped me out a lot (for instance I can forgo testing any plastics for this purpose). Rich, I had been thinking that a wide-belt sander would do what I need. Unfortunately I have no access to one. Do you?

The comments to this entry are closed.