This week we’re experimenting with new techniques (how exciting!) Read on for my process on how I created this engraved and burnt house number.
I’ve always loved how engraving looks. It’s like the equivalent of debossing on paper but for solid materials. We’ve always had the means to do it but I thought I would try it, with our Dremel multi-tool, to see what results were possible by hand! I created this simple house number using a combination of engraving & burning. Read on to see how I did it! Hopefully you’ll find something useful in this post!
01: Material Choice – Basswood
Material choice is important when engraving but ultimately it depends on what your desired effect is. We were hoping for a relatively deep engraving of the number so it made sense that we used a relatively soft but dense wood. We picked up a piece of basswood from our local wood recycling centre. Basswood is easy to work with and takes well to burning.
02: – Preparation: Sanding
The basswood was, inherently, quite rough when we got it from the wood shop. This will, most likely, be the case if you’re looking for wood to use in projects. The first thing to do was sand the front face I was going to use and all 4 visible edges. This helps to bring out the natural colour of the wood and makes it easier to burn on the surface as it is smoother.
Pepper’s Tip! : “Always sand in the direction of the grain to avoid unnecessary scratching to the wood”
03: – Preparation: Smoothing
For a more professional and ‘complete’ finish I also rounded the hard edges of the wood. You can do this by gently running the sander over the edges in an arc type manner. This leaves you with lovely soft edges that are, in my opinion, more appealing. In terms of smoothing the surface, I started with 40 grit sandpaper attached to our Bosch multi tool (this thing is awesome) and gradually worked up to 180 grit which is much finer.
Pepper’s Tip! : “There’s no right or wrong for how fine you should go with sandpaper but generally anything beyond 200 grit doesn’t offer much difference to the finish”
04: – The Design & Guide
I asked my husband to create a design for the plaque. We were going for something simple so the font ‘Gilroy Sans’ was perfect. The 4 was slightly customised to be angled back to the same angle as the 7, as you can see here. Our road name was then typed in lower case. We printed the design then, placing a sheet of carbon paper underneath, I used a pencil to trace round the design. This transferred the outline onto the wood. If your pencil line is too faint just gently go over it directly on the wood.
05: Engraving With the Dremel Multi-Tool
As this is something I’ve not experimented with before there was little bit of trial and error as to what bit to use. We found that initially the ball ended bits seemed to work best, a medium speed on the tool allowed smooth carving of the wood. Adjusting the speed on the tool is crucial, it’s worth doing some tests on a scrap piece if you can before jumping right in. It’s all too easy to start on a high speed and rip into the wood unexpectedly.
Pepper’s Tip! : “Lower speeds on the Dremel Multi-Tool leave you with bumps in the wood, speeds too high will rip the wood apart, medium speeds work best on a medium-dense wood”
06: Engraving: Finer Details
Once the majority of the numbers had been carved out, I switched to a bit that tapered off more to a point to get into the edges of the numbers. This allowed me to keep the hard lines of their shapes. You can see here as well that there was still some bumps to smooth out. These bumps were left by the ball headed engraving bit.
07: Numbers Finished
Now that the numbers were cut out, and were as smooth as I could get them, I used my Dremel Versa-Tip to burn the engraved numbers. Smoother wood tends to burn much neater. This wood has a beautiful rich natural colour to it so burning the engraved numbers was a breeze.
08: Burning the Word
Using my pencil lines as a guide I carefully burned the outlines of the word (our road name) and then filled the letters afterwards. As I had sanded this wood to begin with I had the choice of whether or not to stain or varnish it once it was done. I decided that the rich natural colour of the wood was so nice that there was really no need.
09: Finished Product
Our finished product! Super stoked with how it turned out considering it was my first time engraving with the Dremel. I hope this has provided some inspiration into what can be done, relatively simply, with the Dremel Multi-Tool and Versa-Tip!
See you next time!