6. Etchings

Come up and see our etchings. A trip to the Nottinghack hack space to use their laser cutter, with the extremely generous help of members Toby Jackson and Rob Miles, allowed us to explore various ways in which Liz’s celtic knot designs might be embedded into our guitar.

Etching and cutting Liz’s celtic designs at Nottinghack

Putting laser to wood

We began by etching knots into some flamed maple, testing different depths and intensities and seeing how small they could be while being scannable. The one on the right scanned when we tested it with the aestheticode app on our phones, while the slightly smaller one on the right failed. Are we finding the limits of scale here, or was the problem due to a distortion caused when the wood moved?

Results of our first test

Then we cut out some veneer to get a sense of how this might appear when inlaid into the knotwork (in this case etched into plywood, before any wood geeks kick off). This looked great and also passed the all important scanning test …

Experimenting with veneer inlay

Time for a more complex exercise. We took one of Liz’s designs and both etched and cut it to create a prototype guitar soundhole where both the decoration but also the holes themselves form the scannable aestheticode. This scanned fine when viewed against a dark background. However, we wonder how dark the inside of our guitar will really be?

Concept for a soundhole that features an etched and cut aestheticode

Then it was time to try some different woods. Could we use wenge for the inlay instead of veneer? It certainly looks lovely …

Might we use wedge for inlay?

Finally, time to try etching onto the most valuable tone wood of all, Spruce, a favourite for constructing the delicate soundboards of acoustic guitars, the most vital component in generating the instrument’s voice. This, however,  proved to be far more challenging, due to to its softness and distinctive grain.

Spruce may provide an altogether different challenge

Overall then, an exciting evening’s work when our ideas and designs hit wood for the first time. Some new ideas emerged while some challenges were also revealed. The idea of cut and etched sound holes is very appealing, as are the possibilities of different kinds of inlay. The experience with the valuable Spruce was more sobering however. Etching and cutting patterns onto the sound board could be a very risky business, especially given it’s importance, delicacy and cost. There is clearly a lot more thinking and testing to do.

So, early material tests are promising. It’s now time to turn to the next stage of prototyping – thinking about the overall design of the Carolan guitar …




2 thoughts on “6. Etchings

  1. Pingback: Mapping | Carolan Guitar

  2. Pingback: 30. Scanners | Carolan Guitar

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