Has anyone created Arrow of Light plaques before?


For context, every year, some of our scouts move on from cub scout to boy scouts and we commemorate that with a big ceremony and sending off gift, usually in the form of a fancy plaque.

To save money, we are thinking of DIY instead of buying pre-made.

Has anyone done something similar before? If so, what are some designs you ended up doing and whether it was worth the effort to DIY or just buy off the shelf?

For example, I found laser plans for something below, but it takes ~22 minutes estimated time to cut on Big Thunder.


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for mine we had a nice piece of wood and to hook screws to put the arrow on and just a name plate pretty simple but i like it

Oh yeah, I need to make an arrow as well if I go the DIY route, don’t I…

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Myself, @pinewoodnut, @mreynolds, and others have done several BSA projects. Feel free to PM me, happy to share my cell number to bounce ideas with you. I will tell you that’s a 5 to 10 minutes engrave job, and some assembly.

Also consider using markers to decorate an arrow if you choose to incorporate the design of including their qty of belt loops etc.

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If you have any pictures of past projects you have done, I would love to see/copy/plagiarize them :wink:

I am planning to be in the workshop/laser cutting area tomorrow around 9AM if you want to meet in person.

I have done plaques for my Eagle Scouts, they are roughly 11"x8" and laser engraved front and back.

The front is shown below, the back lists all the ranks and dates earned as well as all the merit badges they’ve earned. I think the total laser time is 45-50 minutes. The wood [usually cherry] is cut and surfaced in the woodshop.

For my son’s den, we purchased a kit and assembled the arrow ourselves [it’s been too many years to remember where the kit was purchased…].

But a plaque like you’re talking about doing can easily be done at the Makerspace [fairly inexpensively too].


Thanks for all of your encouragements. I built this prototype (including the arrows) took ~30 minutes, which was a lot less than what I expected.

@TSki , you were right, this can be done easily and fairly inexpensively at the Makerspace.

@dougemes , we are going to take your suggestion and use marker to decorate the arrow.

Random question, if I want to run the edges of a 1/2 inch plywood on the routing table to get rid of the soot, would that be a good idea?

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There isn’t a super great way to do that. You’ll near a bearing surface for the bit. I suppose you could make a piece that’s very slightly smaller than the laser cut piece and double-sided tape it to the piece you want to clean up.

The other issue is that because of its strength, glue and cross-grain structure, plywood likes to catch a router bit and fling itself across the room unless you’re really careful.

I’ll keep that in mind when I try the routing table on a scrap plywood. If that doesn’t work, then I will just use water and soap to clean up the edges.

Thanks for your advice.

As a side note, thanks for the pinwood derby kits you donated. We will put them to good use next year for sure!

I don’t know how much soap and water will help. You’d probably be better with something abrasive chucked up in a Dremel. Or just a flexible sanding sponge.

From pic above it appears the plywood edge is generally straight, as in 4 sided rectangle. If so, the edge sander should be able to clean up the edges. It’s a fairly aggressive sanding machine, so proceed gently. And, since plywood seems to be a rectangle, you can avoid the whole char issue by cutting on the table saw, if that seems like something you would be comfortable with in the future.

You might also consider just painting the plywood edges some appropriate color after cleaning first…this may add an “accent” you like, and also effectively hides the char.

Note: with regards to some of the lasering char/soot around the engraved letters and Boy Scout logos, there are a few techniques that can minimize and almost eliminate this, including masking tape and applying a few coats of spray finish (lacquer, polyurethane, etc.) before lasering. It’s discussed several times in other threads here on TALK if you want to go looking, but that’s it in a nutshell.

My main concern with the edge is that the soot makes hands dirty when handling, and once I wipe them away, I am happy. I like the black edge, so I don’t want to get rid of it, per se.

I knew about the masking tape trick (this was a prototype, so I wasn’t too worried about engraving smears), but the lacquer thing is new. I will give it a try.

Yep…a lot of folks do like that look, including me. Note that the routing approach (your original question: “if I want to run the edges of a 1/2 inch plywood on the routing table to get rid of the soot…”) or sanding the edge will also remove the char/soot as well.

But it sounds as if you have settled on an approach you like :fleur_de_lis:

Reality often gets in the way of how I want to do things.

I want some options in case things don’t pan out.

Thanks for your various advices.

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