My-DIY-WordPress-websitePart-3

My DIY WordPress website Part 3

Posted Posted in How to

A video on YouTube showed me how to build my own website and gave me the confidence to give it a go.

With a large header with a photo/video slider and a scrolling home page, the Sydney template looked perfect. I wanted to summarise LaserFlair’s services, portfolio, testimonials, customers and recent blogs. This template created a clear structure for this, and it looked smart.

The WordPress.org files were downloaded and I was ready to begin. WordPress looked fairly intuitive, but I was glad to have guidance until I felt comfortable finding my way around.

Setting up the header slider

In two simple clicks, I reached a user friendly form where I could add up to 5 photos scaled to 1024 x 683 pixels, or a video. I’m used to rescaling photos with good results, so this was easy for me using the basic MS Paint package for PCs. Once I’d uploaded five good photos, I could see how my new slider looked instantly. The YouTube video suggested speeds for the slider which were easy to adjust. It was possible to have text appearing on the slider, but I didn’t want this feature so I didn’t populate the fields. So far so good.

 

header slider

Logos and menus

Next, I needed to upload a transparent logo which would appear in the black strip that appears at the tip of the header with the menu during scrolling. I also found a way to increase the size of the menu text which was too small to read easily.

Designing the scrolling home page

I’d never had a scrolling home page before and had no idea how to set one up, but the WordPress menu made it easy.

Under ‘Pages’ in the menu, I was instructed to add a row for the scrolling home page.

Under the ‘Edit’ in the ‘Pages’ menu, rows could be populated with the Sydney template widgets for the Services, Projects, Clients, Testimonials. Once the widgets were set up, I was instructed to chose the relevant menu item directly. Then the pattern was the same – I could set up a new service, project, client etc and edit with text, photos and logos that showed up in their own pages and featured in the scrolling front page after a single set up.

It was easier than I thought, and the visual impact was impressive.

 

Service

Adding new pages

Next, I wanted to add pages about artwork tips and materials, and the usual About Us and Contact Us pages. Under the ‘Pages’ menu, I created a new page, adding rows and standard widgets with text and photo editors and contact forms. The video gave lots of helpful tips about spacing and adding background colours and images.

To create a blog page, I created a new page and set the category of page to ‘posts’. I could then go to ‘Posts’ on the menu and add new posts, as I could with the Sydney template widgets like Projects and Services. Nice and easy. And it was simple to select how I wanted to display the posts. A grid layout saved space and show more posts per page.

Filling the Media Library

 

media library

 

Photos for the website had to be uploaded in two formats. The header slider and background images required images sized to 1024 x 683 pixels. Other photos used on the website were set up to be 700 x 467 pixels. So I spent some time resizing photos so that they would all look uniform across the website. This was especially important for the ‘Projects’ images as they had to tile seamlessly into a neat grid on the scrolling home page.

 

This is just a short summary that covers discrete website features that I wanted as the backbone of my website. I hope it helps you to decide whether or not you should give it a go for yourself! But I’d recommend setting up with a host and building the website on their platform. Using your own computer as the local host make going live much trickier unless you know what you’re doing. You can read about my mistakes here.

Here’s a link to the video that I found so helpful. How to make a WordPress website 2017

Other blogs in the series:

My DIY WordPress website Part 1: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

My DIY WordPress website Part 2: How not to set up a host for an easy life!

designing artwork for laser cutting

Designing artwork for laser cutting

Posted Posted in Artwork, How to

When designing artwork for laser cutting, you need to bear in mind that the lines you create will be followed by a cutting machine. Here are some top tips to help you avoid the common pitfalls and get your design right first time.

Artwork formats

Laser cutting requires artwork in vector format (ai, eps, svg, dxf, pdf). These formats allow individual components of the artwork to be picked out and colour coded for cut through, vector engraving (kiss cut) or raster engraving. But most importantly, the laser follows the vector lines for cutting as though it’s doing a line drawing.

Quick hits

  1. All lines should be hairline thickness only. If you have thicker lines, the laser will want to cut around them.
  2. You don’t need to fill areas with colour if you want them cut out. Simply draw the outline of the shape and the laser will follow the lines and cut the shape out.
  3. Make sure that a continuous line surrounds your shapes. This ensures that corners are cut cleanly as well as the straights and curves. If there are gaps in the outlines, pieces won’t fall out easily.

How does laser cutting artwork look?

The red lines in the owl image below are for cut through, the green lines are internal cut out details, and the black lines are for vector engraving.

 

artwork for laser cutting
artwork for laser cutting

Duplicate lines

Watch out for duplicate lines in your design. The laser will cut every line you make, whether you see it or not. Cutting and pasting creates lots of unwanted lines that you can’t see if they’re superimposed. You want one single line for each cut otherwise the material will be cut as many times as there are lines! This will increase production time and reduce product quality due to charring or melting on the reverse side. It might even cause a fire if the material ignites!

How much detail can I have?

The more complex the design, the longer it will take to cut and the more the job will cost. Bear in mind the size of the item, the material you’ve chosen and how robust the final product needs to be. As a rule of thumb, I recommend having 2 – 3mm spaces minimum between cut out areas to keep the design robust.

How about text?

Fonts like Times New Roman might be best avoided for small designs or as fine detail within large designs. Serif fonts have extended top and bottoms of the letters that can weaken the product if they are too close to each other. I avoid them unless the design is big and bold enough to allow 2 to 3mm spaces between cut out areas. Sans serif fonts like Arial don’t have this problem. I avoid cutting text smaller than 22 point, but this can vary for different fonts.

You should bear in mind that centres of a, b, d,e, g etc will fall out. To prevent this, you may want to select a stencil font as Old School Fabrications did for the plywood stencils in the picture.

Design size

You should design the artwork at the size you want to keep things simple. Vector artwork is rescaled easily without loss of quality. This is really useful as the same artwork can be resized and used for different applications.

Top tip

If you have a wireframe view function in your design software, this lets you see how the laser views the cutting lines.

Need more help?

If you need clarification on any point for your particular project, contact us and we can chat things through.

 

how to engrave a bench

How to engrave a bench

Posted Posted in Furniture, How to, Wood

Have you ever wondered how to laser engrave a bench? Garry Macfarlane from Freckle Furniture did. He received two commissions for benches with engraved pieces simultaneously! He asked us if we could help.

The bench in the picture was commissioned as a retirement gift. Colleagues wanted the logo of the fisheries organisation where they all worked together on the back top beam of the bench. For the front seat rail under the seat, they chose a Gaelic inscription – ‘Mur a bheil e agad, na cuir air tìr e’. Garry and I still don’t know what it means, so let me know if you do!

Designing the bench

There was no way that we could put the complete bench into the laser machine. It was far too large! When Garry was designing the bench, we discussed what dimensions of wood would fit into the machine when we were ready to engrave. Garry built the bench himself from oak. Before he assembled it, he brought the pieces to be engraved to my workshop.

Setting up the artwork

Garry supplied the blue and white SFO logo from the customer and he wanted it resized to 132mm. I usually ask for black and white artwork, but there was enough contrast between the blue and white shapes for the laser to detect which areas were to be to engraved.

I set up the Gaelic inscription. Text is easy to create once the customer has chosen the font and the size for engraving. Garry wanted a reasonably plain but classic font with something a little different, so we chose the Nyala font.

Size constraints and getting around them

The back top beam measured 1480 x 124 x 38mm and the front seat rail 1480 x 76 x 38mm. The maximum width we can fit into the machine is 1330mm, but as our machine has letterbox slits at the front and back, we can set up pieces with sections protruding through the front and back of the machine. That’s what we did with the bench pieces.

Engraving the bench

As all the wood sections would be lined up vertically in the machine, I set up the text and logo for engraving vertically too. Garry wanted the text and logo to be located centrally on each piece of wood. We identified the horizontal and vertical centres and made a small pencil mark that could be rubbed or engraved off.

When I positioned the wood in the machine, I set up the laser so that it was lined up over the pencil marks. Text length was kept within 800mm, the height of the machine bed, so that it could be engraved at one go. The text was easy to align as it was engraved on a rectangular section of wood.

But Garry had designed the back top rail into a curve with a point in the middle. This made things more interesting! We made a similar pencil mark to identify where he wanted the centre of the logo to be. Then I set up the wood in the machine in a similar way.

We did a nice heavy engrave for a good 3D effect. Having Garry there to give feedback during production meant that I could check each detail with him as we went along. He was delighted with the results, and returned to his workshop to finish and assemble the two benches.

 

 

My DIY WordPress website part 2

My DIY WordPress website Part 2

Posted Posted in How to

Having decided on a WordPress.org template for my new self built website, the next thing to do was to upload the WordPress.org software. Then I could start building using my chosen template.

The recommended way to do this is to identify the website hosting company of your choice, buy the hosting package you want and download the software to the host. Then you can build your website online, but under a temporary URL (website address) where only you can see it. If you have an existing website as I did, it is completely unaffected by the new website being built and operates normally.

My big mistake!

I completely misunderstood how the temporary URL worked and wrongly assumed that it would adversely affect my existing website. One option that we read about to avoid this problem was to upload the WordPress.org software onto my computer. It would act as a local host until my new website was ready for upload to my host.

Consequences

So that’s what we did, and all went smoothly.

But when we were uploading my website files to A2 Hosting, the host I had selected, this decision came back to bite us. My website files had lots of references to ‘local host’ (ie my computer) which didn’t work when the website went live online. The files needed to refer to the website URL to work properly. If I had built a temporary website supported by the host, all these references would have been to the temporary URL and we wouldn’t have had this problem.

I couldn’t have sorted this out alone. I had help, but we still spent a weekend Googling and searching for answers on forums. In the end, the best advice was from A2, my hosting service. But it still took a morning to follow all the instructions before everything was sorted out.

Building a website on your own computer is a valid way to do this, but neither I nor my helper had the expertise to do it efficiently. Conclusion? Unless you have the experience, I wouldn’t recommend it.

If I had used WordPress.com to build my new website, I wouldn’t have had to worry about any of this at all as it’s part of the service. So all my pain was self inflicted!

Next time…

The fun bit – building the WordPress website using video guidance.

Other blogs in the series:

My DIY WordPress website Part 1: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

My DIY WordPress website Part 3: Building a website using video guidance

how to brand furniture

How to brand furniture

Posted Posted in Artwork, Furniture, How to, Wood

Colin Semple Furniture Design got in touch with LaserFlair because Colin was looking for a way to brand his furniture. There aren’t many ways for furniture makers to leave a lasting mark on their pieces, and Colin had an idea of how he wanted to do this.

Colin’s specification

Colin wanted to have his logo engraved on shapes of wood that he could mount strategically on a range of items. And he wanted something that would look beautiful! He knew that solid wood would give the right look, and decided on oak which always engraves well. To make it easy to use them, he required regularly shaped pieces that would be easy to insert into holes for a flush fit. A 50mm diameter disc 6mm thick was settled on as a good size that would keep each piece robust and the logo readable.

Detailed logo

The greatest challenge that this project presented to LaserFlair was getting the engraving right.

Colin’s logo is very detailed and in colour. Laser engraving works best with black and white (no greyscale) where the laser either engraves or doesn’t engrave. So to keep the detail while losing the colour, Colin wanted the C and S of his initials fill in engraved. The rest of his name engraved in outline so it appeared white inside. The tree trunk and canopy required similar treatment.

To achieve this, the logo had to be converted into a vector format made up of lines rather than pixels. This meant that individual elements could be picked out to be engraved in different ways. This stage was far more time consuming than the production phase, but it only needed to be done once.

Once Colin was happy with the prototypes, we made the first batch of discs. He sent me this picture of one that he had cleverly concealed in the side of a drawer.

WordPress website

My DIY WordPress website Pt 1

Posted Posted in How to

When I started LaserFlair, I build my website using Yola’s platform. It was very user friendly for beginners like me with no coding experience.

After a few years, it became clear that the platform was quite limiting in power and flexibility. I’d started a blog, but couldn’t host it on my Yola website. Having decided that my website needed refreshing and that LaserFlair needed a new logo, it seemed like the right time to move to WordPress. But this would mean getting to grips with a new platform, hosting and plenty more that I hadn’t had to worry about before. The creative possibilities looked fun, but the techy side was far from my comfort zone.

This series of blogs describes the ups and downs along the way to creating my new DIY WordPress website.

Step 1: WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

The sheer choice available in WordPress’ website templates was bewildering. There were too many lovely ones to choose from! Some were free, others had a charge.

My techy husband gently suggested that WordPress.com might be the best way forward for a non programmer like me. Website security and hosting would be taken care of and I wouldn’t have to download any software. Everything would be included in a nice, convenient package that might constrict slightly, but would be easy for me to set up and manage.

Choosing WordPress.org would mean I’d have to find my own host, and download and install WordPress to my host myself. On the plus side, I could also use my own domain name, add plug ins and edit the code behind the site to customise it as I wanted. This would require support from a host and from my husband.

Step 2: Finding the right template

What made my mind up was finding a video on YouTube describing how easy it was to create a gorgeous website using the Sydney template.

My favourite features were the huge photo slider in the header that can rotate up to 5 pictures, and a scrolling home page with a beautiful grid gallery for case studies that can be categorised. There were also strips to display services, testimonials and customers. Everything I wanted to highlight  to customers quickly and easily without having more pages than necessary.

It was love at first sight with Sydney. The video would guide me step by step on how to build a website just like that in 1 hour 42 minutes. I could stop and start the video and build my lovely new website along with the instructor. He would show me what was where and how to make everything look just as I wanted it to. How hard could it be?

The Sydney template had the look and functionality that I wanted. My only hesitation was that it was only available through WordPress.org. It might be harder work to set up, but I hoped that once everything was in place, it would be easy to look after and the effect would be well worth the effort.

Next time…

Once I had chosen WordPress.org, the next thing to do would be to set up WordPress.com on my computer. Then I could build my new website and find a host for it.

 

Earlier blogs in the series:

My DIY WordPress website Part 2: How not to set up a host for an easy life!

My DIY WordPress website Part 3: Building a website using video guidance