Lasering scratchboard is groovy

I finally had a chance to play with something I’ve been meaning to for some time: trying to laser scratchboard!

Scratchboard is a wood board – much like draftboard – with two layers of paint on top, a white under-layer, and a black top layer. You’re meant to scratch off the black layer to reveal the white. I figured I could use my :glowforge: to scratch with :slight_smile:

I chose to score one piece from a series of algorithmically-generated human-like figures that I wrote in Processing.

Manual Score
Speed: 500
Power: 8 (though anywhere from 3-10 works fine)

These boards were 5" x 7", and 1/8" thick, from Ampersand.

I also tried engraving, but the effect is pretty binary – it’s either white or black. Dithering worked “okay”, and you have to reverse the image since you’re removing black.

Really, I think it looks great for very graphic, thin-line vector art, or engraving bold, graphic images. There’s a slight discoloration to the white under-layer, making it yellow-ish and not as white as when I use a X-Acto blade to scratch with. I’m guessing it’s burning the white layer just a touch. Also the start and end of each line has a slightly wider round point to it (you can see in the detail pic above).


These are remarkable, and I’m surprised you got such bright white. Thanks for sharing!


Fantastic idea and a great result.
I will be trying this for sure


That is so cool! I love seeing new materials like this.


That’s clever! Never would have thought of using scratch board! :grinning:


How effective would it be to spray two layer of contrasting paint for a diy scratchboard ?


This is a great new media to try. Thankyou.


I would think it’s possible given people use acrylic paint as pre-laser masking already; you might just have to start at 1 pew and work your way up until you get through the top layer.

I also wondered if I could get through the white layer on these, creating three color images (black, white, brown wood underneath) but I didn’t try that; DIY boards might be able to more layers with specific colors…


Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh - RGB coloured layers, and you could start colour printing .
Hahaha !


Also - WORD OF WARNING! I did ZERO investigation if I should have been lasering this material before I lasered it…

Now, after the fact, I’ve gone and looked for info and it seems we’re okay.

Ampersand doesn’t have a MSDS on their site, but say they’re “Kaolin clay ground with India Ink coating on top”

Digging into this, here are generic MSDS for each component:

Now, I figure if it’s meant to be used by scratching off the surface, creating dust of materials that can be “irritants” if you breath in while hovered closely over it and these, zapping it with a few pews with a suction fan going might not be terrible. And yes, I know there’s a different when things are burnt versus disrupted via mechanical means, but these MSDSs don’t show any chemical or burning details.

Woo-hoo? :wink:


Depending on a bunch of things, a quick going-over with damp cloth might brighten the white layer back up.

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Indeed - I had tested that but it was rubbing off the black more than brightening the white. I might have been using a too-rough cloth, or any of the bunch of things :wink:, so I figured I’d just leave it as “good enough”. :man_shrugging: :slight_smile:

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