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I bought these thin bamboo cutting boards and cut ten 4" blanks out of them: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016OP6N3M/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
In the Carbide3D Design Elements, I selected ten images from the “US Armed Forces” category that would look good in a circular format.
On a scrap, I made a test grid of varying speeds (20/40/60/80 ipm) and laser power levels (20%/40%/60%/80%/100%), then selected speeds/power levels for the project and tested again before doing the final burn.
For lines, I settled on 50 ipm/80% power. For filled letters, I settled on 80 ipm/80% power. I bolted a fixture to my wasteboard for repeatability, and lightly clamped each blank to ensure it didn’t move during rapid movements.
Bamboo machines beautifully (with sharp endmills), but it lasers a bit unevenly in terms of color. Many threads confirm that this is just part of bamboo’s charm. Burning at a higher power and making multiple passes doesn’t help – there will always be variations due to the inconsistent nature of the laminated strips of bamboo.
Every type of wood seems to have a different sweet spot for laser settings. Bamboo, maple and basswood are all light-colored, but testing showed they each need unique speed/power settings.
Smoke extraction is mandatory – lasers create a LOT of smoke when etching wood. I bought a Stinger vacuum and a sheet of carbon filter. I cut it up, removed the cheapo Stinger filter, and zip-tied the carbon filter material in place. It removes 99% of the smoke, but not the smell of burning wood.