Engraved topography map

Been doing topographic 3D effect maps for a few years now. COnstantly trying to improve the quality. tried many different types of wood with different amounts of success and failures as expected.
The only thing that still is a bummer as always is the smoke staining which to me feels like creosote. Masking isn’t much of an option do to the detail. Learned that right off the bat. Just have to sand it out as I do not like the resin stains myself. But my customers like the maps so thats what matters.


That looks really cool - the shading gives a nice 3d effect.

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Very nice result, do you have the ability to control air assist? reduce it to a whisper while engraving…

I love this type of maps, for sure because I’m also an old GIS man. Very nice work!
To clean surfaces with after I have burned them, I use with reasonably sussec Acetone.
Keep up the good work and stay healthy!

That is my next change. I have tried with no air assist for a few minutes as my exhaust fan is very strong…enough to not allow smoke up the nozzle. However I did not notice a difference in the staining. I thought a lot of it may come from air assist blowing the smoke residue on to the wood. Either way I agree on being able to just get enough air flow to keep the lens clear of any smoke.

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Acetone…now that is one I have not tried. Tried using lacquer thinner and paint thinner and Goo Be Gone etc over the years but never acetone. Going to give that a try today after I go get some…thanks gentlemen.

I also use acetone for most of my cleanups. On leather though, I use white vinegar.

forgot to say … never use acetone on acrylic !, it will crack


So acetone works great accept I white wash sometimes and the acetone removed that. So…if the wood is not stained with a whitewash it will be my go to method. Thanks

I do the maps in goatskin veg tanned leather as well. I use water for cleaning the soot but I will try white vinegar as well. Water worked fine on the veg tanned goatskin but I will see how vinegar works. thanks

The way I handled this is I have two air options. A bought an aquarium air pump thats always on, and then I have the air triggered off the “wind” pin. I wired the air pump into the air assist line. I used Tinkercad and imported a 3/8" hose barb and then added an 1/8" hose barb on the side for the air pump. I did end up have to put in a check valve, otherwise the aquarium air would end up going to the air pump (and next to no air would make its way to the nozzle).

Using this setup, my nozzle/lens stays free of smoke and gunk even while engraving.

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I’m going to throw my two cents in here. Firstly the map look amazing very impressed.
Re the smoke, I know it goes against convention but I have had great success removing smoke staining by increasing the air assist. I adapted the ultimate air assist setup (I’m sure you can find reference to it here somewhere) and added in an actual compressor. With air assist off the aquarium pump runs to keep the nozzle clear when cutting paper, for everything else (including engraving) the compressor takes over.

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I am going to hook up a small 2 gallon portable compressor I have and see how that works. The air pump that came with the Orion 55 watt isn’t that bad actually.but certainly not a compressor. Just need to get some barbed fitting etc to adapt to my air input.

That looks awesome! Can I ask are you bringing the Topo map in as an image and doing that or do you do special processing on it first?

I process it in photoshop first. Really just desaturate it then adjust the levels to get contrast as needed. Adjust any image size etc. I do not convert to greyscale or bitmap as I personally do not like how a bitmap image looks and I don’t convert to greyscale as it flattens layers. I need to preserve layers and even colors. Adjusting an individual color only will contrast that specific area on the map verses say doing it when it’s all greyscale. I do just a touch in lightburn since it always seems a bit darker when I import the jpeg version

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Small world, were a little north of Brunswick, about 45 min from there.

Hah…used to have a boat docked in Baileys Island many a moon ago…

I make this stuff.

I sand and coat the wood with polyurethane, engrave, then wash with paper towel squares dampened with denatured alcohol…


I use the cloud ray bypass air value to control the amount of air getting to my engravings, what it does is when the air is off (in lightburn) it allows me to turn a value and control how much is going to the nozzle (a little or full blow) Below is a link to amazon with more detail, I hope this helps you. I don’t normally answer any questions mostly because I think the lightburn techs are very aware of what is happening in the laser engraving world.

Link–> https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KYM6279/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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very fine work of art, congratulations on that

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