At long last, my GF arrived the other day, and I got down to business. One of the first non-proofgrade materials I want to try is Baltic birch, since I’ve seen posts from plenty of people around here who have had good results with it. But I also want to mask the wood prior to engraving to minimize scorching. So what do you all use? I have a roll of wide blue painter’s tape that could be a likely prospect, but I’d like to run that past more chemically savvy opinions here first before I create some noxious cloud of gas that violates the Geneva Convention. Is blue tape a safe option? If not, what is? Thanks for the help.
Pretty sure lots of people use blue tape and it works fine.
There are several threads on masking, if you do a search of the forum. Here’s one:
blue tape is fine, but it’s more expensive per SF (and more labor intensive) than using the larger rolls of masking, like the transferite 582u.
I use this:
It’s worked really well so far. I just ordered my second roll.
I’ve been using this with great success. I hit it with a roller to make sure it’s stuck on well and that there aren’t any bubbles. Just doing it by hand works fine too though
I second the motion to make sure your masking material is stuck well. I know the roller will work to do this, but I use a vinyl applicator squeegee. Also seems to work well.
Recently I have taken to masking on demand. I have found that the stuff I masked and allowed to sit for a spell gave me trouble with unmasking. Glue sets up eventually I suppose.
As to masking - blue painters tape works well. Pretty much NEED gorilla tape to unmask it once it has been heated though.
It was what I used at first until I found this
Used correctly it works very well. You can even remove it with the blue painters tape usually, or as a last resort use the gorilla tape to unmask.
Correctly means to use a scraper and flatten it well on the lumber, especially the edges so no air can cause a flap. Then trim excess if it seems to overhang too much.
I even lightly sand some of the woods before I squeegee it on.
If in a hurry, I have just hand smoothed it on, but that has a tendency to get loose at times.
DO NOT USE THE BROWN PACKAGE TAPE. I tried some initially and I pretty much gave up on trying to get it all off. Sticks way too well.
Tip for engraving. If doing a deep’ish engrave like on text, etc then masking is ok and even allows you to paint into the engrave when done.
For art or photo though, no masking works best, since some lower power settings will not punch through a masking.
If edge char is still a concern though, you can design a light score around the engrave item and do that first with everything else ignored.
Then, being careful not to move anything, remove the scored area of masking and close up the lid.
Now you can ignore that first score, and enable the engraving and all the other process that you turned off in step one.
Have fun. Try new things. This is a very fun machine to own.
Thanks for the helpful replies. I did a small test run with the blue tape. Worked pretty well. No one died, my GF didn’t explode, and the engraving looked pretty good. I’ll call that a win. I like the paper transfer tape idea even better, though, and placed an order with Amazon.
Apologies for asking an already asked and answered question. I did a forum search before posting, but somehow didn’t find that thread Cynd11 linked in the response. I’ll call that one operator error. Plenty of other good tips to be had, which I’m unsuccessfully trying to absorb all at once. Saw a good one about buying a fat bag of activated charcoal to lay on the GF crumb tray when the machine isn’t in use, in order to absorb some of the residual odor from all the wood getting vaporized during the engraving process. I’ve only done a few engraves so far, but my wife is already noticing the faint smell (I noticed it too; I just didn’t care). Hopefully the charcoal will help absorb some of that.
This is what i use as well per recommendation on the fb group.
What i did find though is if you use it on baltic birch ply, it peels a lot of it off, so i wonder if sanding it and using those tacky cloths first would help?
Totally agree with sanding. I sand all my B.B. nowadays before applying masking.
When weeding the transfer tape after a cut or engrave, I’ve found that mashing on duct tape and pulling it off will lift off the relatively weak adhesive backed transfer tape.
Also, do some test runs and figure out what the minimum power is that burns through the transfer tape and adhesive completely with minimal damage to surface. After that, enter the resulting value as the minimum power when engraving.
Makes removal easy.
That’s what I did. I use 5 power as minimum. That burns through the tape and the adhesive.
I used blue tape to mask a cutting board for engraving. But I had banding where I had overlapped the tape. It was a shallow engrave. I did not see it until after I moved the piece.
You know, I wish someone made a good 12" masking tape in a non-natural color. Anything other than “exactly like baltic birch” color would be great.