During the laser cutting process, nothing touches the wood; there’s no saw blade or water stream. The material is vaporized with focused heat. Just like any fire, the laser cutter’s heat creates ash and smoke. Here are some of the things you might notice with your new laser-cut piece, and some suggestions on what to do about it.
White paper on one side
- What it is: This is a protective masking paper, which reduces burning at the edge of the piece.
- What to do: Simply peel the paper off and discard it.
- What it is: When the laser burns away a layer of wood, most of the smoke is sucked away by a ventilation system. Some smoke can settle back on the surface of the wood, creating a hazy look and fading the color.
- What to do: Lightly dampen the piece, then wipe with a cloth rag. Water works, but for best results, use a degreasing spray, such as Goof Off or Krud Kutter. The smokiness will come right off. Don’t rub so hard that you damage any fine engraving.
Black edges, ash on your fingers
- What it is: The black ash is residue from the wood that was cut away. The effect is more pronounced on thicker wood.
- What to do: Wipe the edges of the piece with a damp paper towel. You can also lightly run sandpaper over the edge. This problem goes away after the piece has been handled a few times.
Edges that aren’t black
- What it is: Imperfections in the wood can prevent the laser from cutting all the way through in certain places. We free these pieces by hand with a razor blade, sometimes leaving a spot on the edge that is tan instead of black.
- What to do: If the appearance bothers you, paint in the desired section with a black Sharpie. It gives a surprisingly good result.
Burnt wood smell
- What it is: Like any fire, your piece may smell like burnt wood. Some people like the campfire smell, others don’t.
- What to do: The smell goes away after time. You can accelerate the process by placing the piece in front of a fan, wrapping it in newspaper, or sprinkling baking soda on it.
Edge gaps, fragile/broken pieces
- What it is: Imperfections in the wood can leave small air pockets, making pieces fragile. We try to check for these during production, and usually they aren’t critical.
- What to do: If there’s a small gap along the edge of a piece that will be hidden, it’s usually okay to just ignore it. You can also fill in small gaps using wood filler. Broken connections can often be fixed with white or wood glue. For larger gaps, or pieces that are clearly broken and irreparable, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.