While experimenting with the laser cutter at the Instructables work shop, I became intrigued by the letterpress-like effect of laser etched paper. Wanting to make something that utilized this feature, I decided on a calendar. Filling in etched areas with a pencil adds a uniquely tactile experience and a useful visual cue for remembering important dates. I've attached my original .ai file for anyone who wants to edit the layout or update for coming years.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
18" x 24" or larger sheet of card stock paper*
A scrap piece of card stock for testing laser settings
2 binder clips
2 push pins or nails
Duct tape (bonus points for digital camo style)
Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw
*Etching on lighter colors will yield a natural color contrast as a result of the laser burning the paper's fibers. Darker hues yield less contrast; this can be a fun feature when combined with a contrasting colored pencil as each day seemingly appears from a blank page. If you'd like to see details on the kind of paper I used, here's a link:
Step 2: Laser setup
Depending on the laser cutter model and paper you use, your settings will vary. The 120v Epilog laser cutter at Instructables rastered well on my 140 lb card stock at 600 dpi with 95% speed and 15% power. You'll definitely want do some test runs on a scrap piece to find a setting that works well.
Once you've found a good setting, load the attached .pdf or .ai file to your computer and get ready to print. Make sure your card stock paper is lined up and flat inside the laser cutter. It helps to run some duct tape along the bottom and right edges of the paper to keep it from bowing during the etching process. Make sure you've got the fan/vent going and start the print. Wait time for me was about 11 minutes.
Step 3: Pickup
Hey, that was easy. You're all ready to pickup your freshly etched calendar. Don't forget to remove your digital camo duct tape (if you can find it).
Step 4: Hang
Clamp on a couple of binder clips, find a good spot to hang, and you're good to go! Use a contrasting colored pencil to fill in the days. Enjoy!