Turning Archive 2008

Laser Engraving/Cutting and Turnings *LINK*

charlie belden
>Texturing, piercing and carving/eroding are showing up on more and more pieces - in woodturning magazines, web sites and demonstrations - as turning trends more and more towards "post lathe enhancments" of "mulit-media" pieces. Classic shapes and hollow forms seem to be running out of "new" and really interesting woods suitable for these turned objects are becoming harder and harder to lay your hands on - or VERY expensive. The "segmented" area, and inlaying have an almost inexhaustible area to grow in, but the time, skill and effort involved preclude them as possibilities for many turners.

It's the time, effort and skill things that keep many turners from exploring "post lathe enhancements". Who has the time - or patience -to learn to carve or inlay really well?

As new tools become available, or tools from other disciplines are "discovered", some turners will begin experimenting with them, looking for ways to adapt them to their turnings - wood burning/scorching, dental burs, die grinder burs - chainsaws (scaled WAY down of course), new turnable materials, etc.. Their initial efforts are often quite
primitive, more investigations than fully developed integral components of a turned then "enhanced" work. Initial reactions to these early explorations are often - well let's just say - unfavorable.

I've recently been introduced to a new tool that has great potential for "post lathe enhancment" of turnings - a laser engraver / cutter. This new tool can "print" images on wood, engrave into wood, pierce through wood - and shape wood, albeit within a limited range - AND any combinations of these abilities. The possibilities are almost endless - constrained mainly by the "depth of focus" of the laser beam and the curvature of the turning - and of course, the imagination of the user.

I posted this url earlier to several turning forums - inlcluding this one. Have added some about this 3-D "carving" since the earlier post. That's at the bottom of this page


Not surprising, some saw the tool as merely a way to burn "clip art" or a baby picture into a picture on a piece of wood - Ho-Hum! Others saw it as "cheating" - no skill or artistry required - offensive to their sense of aesthetics - overlooking the significant reduction in often risky grunt work. (Ever spent a few hours cleaning out the "background field" of a carving? That can be very relaxing - or VERY tedious.)

But let's take some of the works of a turner many are familiar with - Andi Wolfe. She's doing some beautiful leaf and botanical motiffs on her turnings - minimal carving, color providing depth and tone. Now imagine one her pieces with actual low relief carving, maybe including veins in the leaf in addition to the stems and major veins - and THEN she adds the fall colors. She's drawing the leaves anyway - so why not "draw" them on a layer of an image of her turning and have the laser "print" her drawing on her turning? Save the hand carving time for coloring!

Wonder how woodturners with a tendency for exploring will be using lasers in the next few years - when Ginkos and Copy Centers make them available to those that lack "deep pockets"?

charlie b

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