While browsing around amazon for inexpensive stuff to shoot my laser at, I came across these thick leather rounds - 25 Pack of 4" Vegetable Tanned Cowhide Leather Round Shapes
They are vegetable tanned and 4 inch diameter. They vary in thickness slightly, but it’s around 1/8 inch, which is pretty thick for leather. They cost about 32 bucks for 25 rounds (with prime shipping). Considering the amount and thickness of leather, that’s not a terrible deal.
Anyway, I thought they might make some decent coasters.
Basically, for engraving I found that the settings for PG thick leather work pretty well, but masking is a good idea. I also tried hitting them at full speed and 3 power with 340 LPI. This marks the surface, but doesn’t cut into it at all. The result is completely smooth. It initially looks pretty dark, but some of the darkness washes away easily. I actually noticed the dark charring washes away pretty easily no matter what settings you use, but the PG settings actually cut into the leather, so I suspect the image will have more long term durability. I predict it might also look better after being dyed.
The big advantage to doing the higher speed and low power was that no masking is needed, and there is no noticeable smoke or smell. Leather has a tendency to get pretty smelly in a laser.
I also tried cutting, The PG thick leather cut settings, modified to 3 passes, just barely made it through, but gave me as good or better results than most of the other settings I tried. It came out pretty clean and I’m happy with the results. It did smoke a lot and made my work area smell like burnt leather for awhile.
I am still experimenting with all this, so if anyone has better settings suggestions, please share.
Here’s some pics. The left coaster was done at 3 power, 1000 speed, 340 lpi, no masking. The middle one was done using PG thick leather engrave settings with a mask of standard light brown painters tape. The right one was cut using PG thick leather cut settings, modified to 3 passes.