46: LaserDark

I’ve laser-engraved an axe handle before, as a test to determine whether I could process some of the longer pieces for Eagle Engraving. It was successful, and the first actual order came in for a laser engraved large axe handle.  Since one step of the process wasn’t covered in the previous project, I’ll be going over it this week.

LaserDark is a spray paint meant to darken the engraved portions of wood that might otherwise not have enough contrast. Plain brown spray paint might work in some cases, but LaserDark dries more quickly to prevent the color from bleeding into the wood grain in the unengraved portions.

A nice deep engraving might not even need LaserDark to begin with.

A nice deep engraving might not even need LaserDark to begin with.

The engraving went well, using the same process and settings as described in the previous entry on axe handles. Just make sure that you use masking paper so that you can spray only the engraved area and tear away the paper after the spray dries. One thing I immediately realized is how dark these engravings turn out. Because I’m using a very low 25% speed to get a deep engraving, there’s a lot of burn causing a great deal of contrast even before we begin spraying. This doesn’t invalidate the spray’s usefulness in other situations, though, like lightly engraving oak or maple.

A little paper towel on the sides helped prevent spray from bleeding past the area I masked.

A little paper towel on the sides helped prevent spray from bleeding past the area I masked.

As instructed, I sprayed the colored coat first and gave it several minutes to dry. Afterward, the clear coat was applied in the same fashion and I gave it a half-hour to set. LaserDark dries quickly, so they only recommend waiting 15 minutes. It’s also suggested that you remove your masking paper within an hour so that it’s easier to remove.

Whoops. It bled a little anyway. In this case, some light sanding does the trick.

Whoops. It bled a little anyway. In this case, some light sanding does the trick.

Unfortunately, it seems like a little color did bleed beyond the area I’d engraved. It’s disappointing, considering I took extra care when applying the masking paper to make sure it was firmly and evenly applied.

According to the comments section on LaserDark’s website, a testimonial from one customer reads “It’s fast, simple, quick-drying and does not bleed or seep like regular wood stains.” This sole testimonial, though, was left by the owner of an awards company that operates at the same address as the company that produces LaserDark, so I’m not entirely sure it’s actually a testimonial and not just marketing.

Regardless, it’s possible I applied too much color spray; a “medium coat” is suggested. Also, a little bit of sanding did the job nicely, and this handle is going to be further buffed and polished at Eagle and will almost certainly turn out looking awesome.

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