If you don’t mind me asking, I have several images like this that I would like to use for puzzles (for friends and family), but they are naturally alternating dark and light, which means I can’t engrave directly from the source file. The dark pieces would not work.
Did you manually alter the color of each piece to make this work?
Sort of… After I created a vector outline for all the pieces, I used the outline to split the image into two layers–one for the dark pieces and one for the light pieces. Then I spent some time remapping the value levels of each layer until the light and dark pieces looked about the same. Luckily, I didn’t need to manipulated any of the pieces individually. I like to use GIMP for image manipulation (because I’m cheap) but it’s the same in Photoshop, Corel Painter, or whatever.
Also, I found it important to really jack up the contrast to emphasize the most important details. Visually, there’s just not that much difference between 100% power (black) and %50 power (gray) in the finished product. But there’s a huge difference between the areas that are untouched by the laser (white) and the areas that are just lightly engraved, especially in maple. Any parts of the image that were lightly shaded in the original got clipped to white for engraving.
Beautiful work! These will make really nice gifts!
The puzzle is awesome, and I love the 3-D effect of the pieces, but that sleeve is a piece of sexy! Further, I’ve not seen a tray puzzle in a sleeve before, that definitely ups the game
I have this file saved for 2 of my uncles too! The people who introduce you to art and photography as a child will always be magic. I’ve been too lazy to do it, but I’m inspired by your info. Thank you!
This has (finally) motivated me to try creating one myself, as a gift for my puzzle-loving daughter. I’ve been using editing software for over 20 years but the light vs. dark pieces has really stretched my skills, for which I am thankful! Using masks like I’ve never used them before! lol…
I am in the midst of testing to get the right speed/power combination for cutting 3/16" hardwood (mahogany and maple). So far, I get charred edges so the pieces don’t fit together well. Frankly, getting a little frustrated with all the good wood I’m wasting to make this happen. When I thought I had it dialed in, I cut a sheet worth and part of it cut through and the lower half did not - not even enough to push it out and clean up. Of course, I didn’t know until I’d pulled the piece out and cannot get it back into position enough to cut over the old cuts - which means that whole piece is scrap now.
Do you mind sharing the settings you found to be most effective on the walnut and maple?
Beautiful work! Congratulations.
Have you used Sweetgum wood? I was offered a stack that made it to the mill on accident and the owner said they were going to burn it. I was told it has a somewhat strange grain and is hard to work with. I’m just starting to look into it. Do you have any experience working with it?
I have not. I THINK it has a lot of resin (the gum part), keep that in mind if you decide to try it. You will want to clean your machine much more frequently if I am correct.
Next time pieces don’t cut all the way through, try using a mini sander on the back. It works really well with solid wood!
Good evening, Jamely
I’m guessing you mean to sand the back until we get down to the point where it did cut through. I actually did that, the net result is that I had to sand it down nearly to 1/8” at the worst point - which sort of negates the rationale of using 3/16” in the first place. I might as well have used 1/8” material, which does cut through (with less power, BTW) and results is consistent material for the whole project, not just some pieces. What I’m trying to understand why there is such a disparity from the top to the bottom of the material.
Thanks for the thoughts.
Yep. That would completely negate the point of using thicker wood! The disparity tends to come from wood once having been a living plant
You may know all the below content, but others that don’t might find it helpful:
- Solid wood is just not a consistent material from top to bottom or from left to right. Even more, every species of wood will cut differently, aka, maple vs walnut vs sassafras vs oak will all have different settings.
- Plywoods tend to be slightly more predictable in their cutting, but then you have voids/filler/glue that can cause issues too.
- If you take the wood, make it into sawdust, then glue/press it back together, you get mdf, which totally ruins the beauty of the wood, but is a pretty consistent product to laser.
If you look at the edge of Proofgrade plywoods, you will see that it is two nice veneers (thinly cut wood sheets) glued to a center of the easily cut mdf.
This likely doesn’t help you with this specific project, @dave5. You might try subsurface focusing, meaning setting your focus about 1/3 the way through the wood thickness. For 3/16", you could try 1/8" focal depth. I use this technique to cut through 1/4" five-layer plywood with less charring.
I have successfully cut 1/4" black walnut and maple. The mahogany I eventually got through, but it was such a charred mess as to be worthless. The settings for a great cut vary from board to board, tree to tree and species to species. There are several species of trees sold as mahogany or maple. I can’t post my settings here or the whole thread will be moved, but you can DM me for them if you need a starting pt. I can say slow, lots of power and more than one pass.
thank you, Jamely. I have been able to cut 1/8 maple and 1/8 walnut nicely (proof grade). Might try what you suggest here - will let you know what I learn.