Awards & Engraving

December '17

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20 • A&E DECEMBER 2017 TIME FOR A FIX AND MORE BAD DATES A married couple showed up at Fire- Point Creations in Noblesville, Indiana with a large wall clock that the husband had bought for their anniversary, but he had the wrong anniversary year engraved onto it. Being a woodworker with 20 years of experience, FirePoint Creations owner Mark Conde's first thought was to sand out the mistake, paint, and engrave the correct year. His laser, however, couldn't accommodate the 27-inch clock. Looking around the shop, Mark found a sheet of engravable plastic that matched the color of the clock. The correct engraved date covered the mistaken date. An 82-year-old lady walked into my studio with her husband in an urn, in a high-end wooden box. She had it engraved and gave the wrong year of her late husband's birth. I told her that I could sand it down or apply some veneer and try to match the stain and finish, or I could install a plate over the incorrect information. It was a beautiful urn; any repair would be noticeable and not look right. She looked a little desperate, so I told her, "Just keep it the way it is and you'll have a funny story to tell." That was all she needed to hear. FIXING COMMON METAL- MARKING PROBLEMS Metal marking materials is popular. You apply a paint or paste-like material to bare metal and burn it with the laser, essentially bonding the material to the metal. The trouble with marking materials is that you cannot tell if you have a good mark until you clean off the residue. To do that, you need to remove the piece from the laser bed and wash it off. Depending on your set up, it's easy to lose the registry that you need to put the piece back into the machine in exactly the same place. Common problems with metal marking materials are no marks, light marks, and inconsistent marks that appear as bands. The two initials in the photo above looked good until I cleaned them off. The one on the left was too light and had some banding to it. (I was able to create this problem using incorrect settings. Knowing how to create a problem or defect is a huge step toward not only knowing how to fix a problem, but also helps prevent them from occurring in the future.) There are several techniques for fixing these problems, but they all involve reapplying the metal-marking material, realigning the piece so the laser can mark the graphic in the same place, using the correct settings, and running that part of the job again. When your laser is in the home posi- tion and your work piece can be accurately replaced either against the rulers or in a jig, you can just recoat the work piece with the marking material, put it back in the same spot, and run the job. YOUR LASER AT WORK The encoder strip often gets blamed for many laser engraving issues. One way to resolve an incorrect date is to cover it up with an inlay, such as this project done by Terry and Steve Beauchamp. Common problems with metal marking materials are no marks, light marks, and inconsistent marks that appear as bands.

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