Woodblock Prints

Occasionally back in the day,  I would breakout the linoleum blocks and the speedball cutting tools, and carve out a design to make block prints.  My experience in making prints spans from potato carvings to cardboard stencils, linoleum and wood blocks.  As designs became larger, complex, and multi-color, the time it would take to carve the block plates, made finishing a project difficult at best.

Then, the laser cutter…..

Using the adobe suite of products I created two black and white drawings to be translated to wood blocks.

rooster_redPlate rooster_BlackPlate

Unlike traditional transfer/carving methods, I decided to utilize the 60W laser to etch the images into poplar wood vs. carving.  I chose poplar for its hardness and ability not to warp as easy as pine or other softer woods.  60W laser setting was 100 power, 60%speed, 500 PPI

The image below is a 5″x7″ laser cut of the black plate of the rooster image.


Top-Left is the black plate for the left facing rooster.  Bottom-left is the red plate for the left facing, top-right – red plate, bottom right – black plate

image (1)

The following image shows the red left-facing plate printed, and the black plate inked up and ready to be printed

image (2)

The first red/black rooster print, along side the right facing black print.

image (3) image (5)

And of course, if you do one, you have to do many.


How do you make the BADASS more badass?

Simple.  Add lasers.

Video of Vectorized Laser PCB Fabrication

The next generation BADASS board was too big to fit through the card laminator, so I figured I’d try my hand at Tom’s laser etching method.  By using the trace program included with CorelDraw I was able to make a vectorized path for the board.  One pass takes about 5 min at 50% speed.

Gradient Reference for the 25 Watt Laser Cutter

A map of how deep and/or dark the laser cutter etches based on the percentage of power and percentage of speed.

So, I was just getting in to the ‘Space when Jason G. and I started talking about the laser cutter.  I had planned on doing some simple tests to determine the level of shading that I could get for an as-yet unnamed project when he mentioned that he (and others) were talking about doing a full map of different settings and the results.

I thought that I might as well give it a shot.  The set up was interesting.  I created a grid of rectangles in CorelDraw (oh, how I hate you!) and then used the preferences dialogue in the laser cutter driver to adjust the speed and power for each little square.

I should explain that the driver recognizes 8 colors and for each color in your image you can assign different settings.  It was a little trying given that the grid is 10×10 but, eight at a time, I assigned the appropriate colors, then settings and let it cut.

After the charring became significant on the low speed/high power settings, I decided to omit the rest of them because, honestly, who wants their project to turn into charcoal?  If you can’t read the Olde English font, it says, “Here Be Fire! (not suitable for etching).”

As you can see, there is a very nice gradient that results from many of these settings used in conjunction with one another.  I also left the tar/smoke-damage on because I wanted people to know what their project would look like immediately after using these settings.  I suspect that most of that can simply be sanded off.

I had forgotten my camera, but a big thanks to Kevin B. for taking a few shots and emailing them to me via his phone.

Next, a cutting template similar to this one.  Oh, and a gradient rainbow.  Yeah, a monochromatic, smells-like-a-forest-fire rainbow should do the trick.  Maybe I’ll even make it a double. :)


We’ve got a Laser Cutter! We can cut things… like boxes. So head on over to BoxMaker and make a box!

As far as materials, that’s a little trickier. I tried wood, but currently the laser cutter can’t handle cutting your standard 1/4″ plywood. (Update: 3mm Baltic Birch plywood works great though!) Here you can see the results of me trying.


No matter… I moved on to acrylic, since we’ve got a lot of acrylic scrap to play with…


That worked much better! Hopefully once we do some laser maintenance (cleaning and what not) it might be able to cut wood. Of course you could always use BoxMaker to create your box and cut it on the CNC Router instead.

So here’s my laser-cut acrylic box. Notice anything? The tabs are way too big! In my frustration of not being able to cut wood, I switched to the acrylic, but didn’t measure the thickness and create a new file, and since it was not as thick as the wood, I got the tabs all wrong.


Still, BoxMaker is an awesome tool, and I look forward to getting the cutting part right next time.