Awards & Engraving

June '18

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20 • A&E JUNE 2018 it's the highest part of the bolt head. The washer is the darkest area of the drawing as it is the lowest part. When executed properly, it will create a relief carving in wood with physical dimensions that can be felt and looks like an actual hex head bolt and washer. Relief carving graphics are usually ren- dered in the RGB palette in 256 shades of gray from black (R:0 G:0 B:0) to white (R:255 G:255 B:255). It's important to understand that a relief carving grayscale graphic is not intended to look like a gray- scale rendition of the subject. The graphic is made up of component parts, each part being assigned a color value from black to white that is only important as to the depth of the cut. The darker the color value, the deeper the cut. There are many grayscale graphics for relief carving available for purchase. A lot of work goes into these drawings, so they tend to be relatively expensive. They are usually sold in a format that is scalable to a certain extent, but not editable. The advantages are that there are many designs available, they are usually tested for results, and are available for immediate use. One disadvantage is that they are available to your competitors and not unique to your operations. I prefer to draw my own custom designs primarily so that I can offer something dif- ferent from everyone else, but also to meet client demand. There are several graphics programs available for this; however, none of them are "automatic." There is no one- button solution out there. It takes a lot of work to make a relief carving rendering — breaking graphics into component parts, assigning color values, and filling with gradients. I've learned to create them with CorelDRAW, primarily using the Fountain Fill, Mesh Fill, and Contour tools. Besides being original and custom, the designs are editable, so it eventually saves some drawing time. You can and will use many of the component parts over and over in other projects. MATERIAL You can have a compatible laser and graphics, but it's all for naught if you don't have the appropriate carving mate- rial. For wood projects, I work primarily with the hard maples, cherries, ashes, and basswood. Heavily-grained woods do not carve as well. As a rule, if it's a good wood for carving with traditional tools, it's good to carve with the laser. Use solid wood only. Thickness is dependent on the design and required depth. I typically work with 1/8-inch thick or better stock. Plywood is not appropriate for relief carving; the face veneers usually are not thick enough and the carving can break through to the core material. Acrylic can be used for relief carving projects. Translucent (opaque) cast acrylic is a consistent material. Ivory-colored, 3/16-inch thick acrylic makes particularly nice pieces. (Thinner sheets of acrylic can warp under the high heat of the carving process.) I use it a lot to test graphics before committing to carving on a special piece of wood. STEP-BY-STEP PROJECT Let's work on drawing and carving a hex head bolt. You will need a compatible laser with the relief carving (3-D) option, a graphics program, and a piece of fine-grained wood. (Instructions reference CorelDRAW and the Epilog Legend EXT CO 2 laser.) Step 1. Open a new document in your graphics program and draw a 3/4-inch diam- eter circle. Fill it using the Elliptical Fountain Fill tool (select Interactive Fill>Fountain Fill>Elliptical Fountain Fill), setting the edge color to R:77 G:77 B:77 (70% black) and the end (center) color to R:255 G:255 B:255 (white). Set the outline to None. You've just made a washer with a slightly convex shape. This picture frame carving is another example of the fine details that are possible with the laser.

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