EducationQ&A

What methods can be used to create wood inlays with a laser?

I love doing inlays, which is putting one species of wood into another species and making it pop; for example, a piece of maple (light-colored wood) with an inlay of walnut (dark-colored wood). 

There are two ways to inlay – one is vector and the other is raster inlay. For most people without a wood shop, the raster inlay is by far the easiest. 

You simply raster (engrave) the object out, then vector cut a thin piece of wood that fits right into that spot, glue it in place, then sand and make flush. To inlay something like Mother of Pearl, raster a little into the wood, vector the Mother-of-Pearl, and glue it in place.

Vector is a little harder. You need to vector (cut) the piece that you want in the wood, then you have to vector (cut) the other piece. But the piece that you cut that will fit into the other piece needs to be a little larger. Anything that cuts leaves a kerf (the thickness of the blade, or in this case, the thickness of the laser beam). The second piece can easily be made larger by doing a contour of about .003″ larger and the two will match up.

   —Express Yourself Austin

Doug Green

Doug Green is the man behind Express Yourself Austin and countless CorelDRAW tutorials on YouTube. A master crafter, Green sometimes spends hours upon hours, if not years, to create unique and elaborate items out of wood and metal.

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