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There has to be a better way to transfer designs to wood...

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Forum topic by Zach posted 83 days ago 936 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Zach

13 posts in 203 days


83 days ago

I’ve been experimenting with creating small letter carving using very small bits and a dremel with a router base.

The biggest problem I’ve ran into is how to get the design onto the wood piece to trace carve it.

I’ve tried graphite paper, citrasolv and laser printed design, carbon paper, etc..

The best result I’ve had that works very good, is using a laser printer to print the design on clear contact paper. This provides a stickback paper i can place directly on the wood and rout the design. Works almost perfectly….except. When I peel off the contact paper, it leaves a gum like residue. I can rub it off, and sanding helps, but it’s not great. The contact paper also get’s wrapped around the tip of my router bits after awhile.

Here’s a few pictures of the process with a recent project.

Is there a better way to accurately transfer a design to wood for routing?

-- Pax Vobiscum


26 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

2188 posts in 847 days


#1 posted 83 days ago

Steve Ramsey from Woodworking for Mere Mortals has this method that might work well and definitely wouldn’t leave any residue. Transfer the design, rout, and sand. Don’t know how well it would work on really open grained wood like that red oak, but might be worth a try.

-- "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835

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7Footer

1012 posts in 585 days


#2 posted 83 days ago

^ +1 … I’ve been experimenting with that method a lot lately, it works very well, but JayT is right, on open grain wood like red oak it doesn’t make a super clean transfer, on oak it actually works better on the end grain than it does on the long or side grain.

Another thing you could try is print your mirrored image from a laser printer, and use an iron (heat transfer) to get your image onto the wood, but again the open grain in oak makes it more difficult to get a super clean transfer.

Also fluid medium and gel medium work well, but it also leaves a film, and although the film sands off relatively easy, it seems like you would need to out some wax on it or the router might not want to move across the wood smoothly… Mediums add quite a bit of time as well.

Great job on that project btw, very clean.

-- If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did." -

View Zach's profile

Zach

13 posts in 203 days


#3 posted 83 days ago

Thanks guys. I have tried something very similar to that technique, printing on wax paper.

What I’ve found is that for the small text, it smears quite easily and it’s hard to get an accurate transfer for letters. I can definitely see it working well for pictures or something where being just a tad off is ok.

I do need to try it with other types of wood for sure.

Is poplar a good wood for engravings such as these? Does it finish well?

-- Pax Vobiscum

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

776 posts in 953 days


#4 posted 83 days ago

Another option is to print out the pattern on heavy weight paper and cut it out with a knife to make a stencil. Laying the stencil down then giving the piece a light dusting with spray paint to mark out the lettering should suffice.

Another possibility is to make yourself a pantograph.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Zach's profile

Zach

13 posts in 203 days


#5 posted 83 days ago

Another good option with the stencil. And the pantograph is something I’ve been looking at too.

Although I don’t have one, creating a template with a scroll saw is another option i’ve considered to trace the outside. But yes, this would add some considerable work.

-- Pax Vobiscum

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7Footer

1012 posts in 585 days


#6 posted 83 days ago

Yeah agreed, the hardest part I find is getting it lined up perfectly and not moving it at all to avoid smearing. Sounds like you’ve done it already, wax paper is pretty much the same thing as whats under those pieces of paper in Steve’s method.

Personally I really like the way poplar looks with just a clear finish like spray lacquer, especially when there is a lot of the green in it, I make beer carriers out of poplar and they finish well, but I’m only applying spray lacquer and nothing else, I’ve heard it can get blotchy if you stain it or use certain oils. I’ve also heard somewhere that milk paint looks pretty nice on it too… But everyone says poplar is better suited for paint. There are a few other threads about poplar and I just saw some cabinets that LJ MT_Stringer made that are absolutely beautiful, there might be some other finishing tips in those threads.

-- If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is "God is crying." And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is "Probably because of something you did." -

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

776 posts in 953 days


#7 posted 83 days ago

If you do this work a lot, it’s small scale and you’re making money on it, a small CNC device with a pen or a laser engraver are excellent options. Those are the two methods I use for making patterns. I’ve linked to a simple homemade device below. Inexpensive kits also exist. Just replace the spindle with a pen.

Simple Homemade Desktop CNC

Here’s the link to a post I made earlier showing how I draw patterns on the CNC.

CNC Techniques for Building Furniture

Here’s an affordable kit.

Shapepoko 2 CNC Kit

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Ripthorn's profile

Ripthorn

750 posts in 1621 days


#8 posted 83 days ago

I usually take the outline printed on regular paper, spray adhesive it on, cut the lines with an exacto knife, then remove it all. The residue comes off easily and completely with naphtha. Of course, this is mostly for guitar inlay and such, and larger designs like yours would take a long time to cut with an exacto knife.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Underdog's profile (online now)

Underdog

518 posts in 672 days


#9 posted 83 days ago

Ok… I don’t see the point of transferring ink to the wood with a CNC router when you could just route the silly sign with it…

View TheFridge's profile (online now)

TheFridge

733 posts in 122 days


#10 posted 83 days ago

I use mineral spirits to take the residue from stickers off oak veneered plywood with no marks.

-- "We build our workshops. Then we enjoy the fruits of our labor by laboring for more fruits." - Me

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

776 posts in 953 days


#11 posted 83 days ago

You could but I don’t trust the rigidity of the flimsy CNC devices like the one in that Instructables site.

The Shapepoko would be capable of actual routing.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View johnstoneb's profile (online now)

johnstoneb

656 posts in 809 days


#12 posted 83 days ago

I use lacquer thinner and takes the residue off leaves nothing behind.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Zach's profile

Zach

13 posts in 203 days


#13 posted 83 days ago

That looks like a super slick CNC machine there, that would do the job nicely I would think. Something to save for.

Good call on the mineral spirits and lacquer thinner, I’ll give that a shot.

-- Pax Vobiscum

View Yonak's profile

Yonak

253 posts in 157 days


#14 posted 83 days ago

I’ve had good luck printing a template and sticking it to the wood with spray adhesive, then routing and sanding straight through the paper. I use mineral spirits to remove any residue, if I happen to apply too much glue.

The Dremel and sander tend to turn up the edges of the paper if cutting in an upward direction but pushing it back down in place is not a problem with ether a finger or the tool.

View Zach's profile

Zach

13 posts in 203 days


#15 posted 83 days ago

Yonak, just curious, do you spray the wood first and lay down the paper? Or spray the paper first to only get adhesive where the paper touches the wood?

-- Pax Vobiscum

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