Branded wooden sign for selfie bug

Branded wooden sign for selfie bug

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Craig Hutchison of Vollood Hair and Beauty in Dunfermline has a lovely old VW Beetle covered in Vollood branding. He wanted a piece of wood engraved with his logo to sit in front of the roof rack as a finishing touch.  Vollood Hair and Beauty is Dunfermline’s only vegan hair and beauty salon. Craig fitted it out with a smart yet sustainable vibe using lots of reclaimed wood, and the sign matched this look perfectly.

As part of his social media campaign, Craig planned to park the bug at different places around the town. People could win vouchers if they spotted it and posted selfies with the car.

Craig visited the workshop with the wood and we planned to complete the job while he waited.

Adjusting the logo artwork

Before he arrived, Craig sent me a vector file of his logo so I could make sure it was right for what I needed.  It was. Vector files are really flexible as I can rescale them and make customised tweaks to suit what the customer wants. In this case, Craig wanted the logo to fit the long, thin piece of wood he’d brought.

For clarity, Craig wanted the logo to be as big as possible. As the wood is narrowest in the middle and the logo is widest in the middle, I scaled it so that there’d be a 10mm gap between the engraving and the top and bottom edges of the wood at the narrowest point. He thought of removing ‘Hairdressing and Beauty’ and make ‘Vollood’ bigger, but decided not to in the end.

Vollood sign on the laser
Vollood sign on the laser

Engraving the wood

For stability, I usually sit large pieces of wood in the bottom of the machine after removing the knife bed.

Craig wanted the logo engraved as deep and dark as possible. He loved watching the machine engrave his logo and how the wood grain stood out clearly in the engraved areas.

He took the wood home to treat it for outdoor display outdoors. After he mounted it on the car, he posted photos on Facebook.

 

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Fish & Frites festival menu boards

Fish and Frites festival menu boards

Posted Posted in Signage, Stainless steel, Wood

Sarah and Jordan from Fish & Frites were preparing to take their gorgeous blue Citroen mobile food van to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time. They wanted to have a flexible menu board and find a way to add branding to their batter shield and asked if I could help.

Wooden menu board

Sarah’s van has an area to the right of the serving hatch that was ideal for locating a menu board.  Something flexible was needed that could be altered for different occasions.

She has the idea of a board with interchangeable slats that different menu items could be engraved onto, and liked the idea that they could also be reversible to use both sides of the wood as only one side would be visible at any time. They also wanted something that they can use not just at the Festival, but afterwards at other festivals and events.

As Sarah has a joiner in the family, she asked him to make something simple and interesting. Then I could engrave each slat.

When the slats were ready, Sarah brought them round. She chose a font and we set up the artwork together to make sure she was happy with everything. After she approved a final proof, I engraved and varnished each slat.

Fish & Frites wooden menu
Fish & Frites wooden menu

Batter shield branding

This shield is a large piece of stainless steel bent at 90 degrees in the middle. It was added to the van give the cooking areas more protection from the weather. Sarah and Jordan thought it should also work hard to promote their business and wanted their logo engraved on it. Quite right too!

Fitting it into the machine was a challenge! When the engraved side sat in the machine, the other side (next to the ketchup bottles) had to hang out of the front during production.

As the logo was to appear in the centre of the front face, I had to scale the logo so that the engraved area would fit in the engraving bed. Part of the engraved side would be outside the engraving bed or be outside the machine entirely. 75mm diameter was the largest I could make it and Sarah was happy with that.

Finally, I had to make sure I engraved the logo the right way up!  I rotated the logo 90 degrees clockwise so it would be the right way up when the shield was mounted.

Once everything was ready, I painted the engraving area with Thermark metal marking paste, let it dry and engraved the logo. Thermark leaves a lovely matt black enamel mark that stands out and is weather proof and scratch resistant. Sarah and Jordan were delighted.

Fish & Frites stainless steel batter shield
Fish & Frites stainless steel batter shield

Fish & Frites at the Edinburgh Festival

Fish & Frites van looks even smarter with its new features, and they cooked up a storm at Edinburgh’s Underbelly. Their fish & chips are some of the best I’ve ever had, so if you see them near you, don’t hesitate to try their delicious food!

 

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Shetland Wool Week plywood brooches

Shetland Wool Week plywood brooches

Posted Posted in Jewellery, Prototyping, Wood

Donna Smith lives in Shetland and designs and writes knitting patterns. She also teaches workshops and classes in knitting and design around the world.

Donna is a past patron of Shetland Wool Week, and was asked to design and commission brooches of a Shetland jumper for this year’s event.  So she contacted me to ask if I could make them from plywood.

Brooch artwork

Vector artwork is ideal for projects where products are laser cut and engraved. Donna sent a perfect file.

Her design included the square and cross elements from the Merrie Dancers Toorie pattern by this year’s Shetland Wool Week patron, Elizabeth Johnston (Shetland Handspun). She wanted the intricate pattern around the yoke raster engraved.

She also wanted a ribbed effect at the cuffs and the waistband of the jumpers. These details would be created by a series of cut through lines.

Shetland jumper brooch prototypes

Protype brooches

As soon as Donna had confirmed how she wanted all the details of the brooch to look, I made prototypes to ensure I could make something that Donna would love.  These brooches are 68 x 45mm which is not especially small, but the details on them are very fine. Yoke detail would need to be very crisp and fine cuts can be liable to burning on the backs of products if settings are even slightly out.

Donna agreed that 3mm plywood would be fine. I created two prototypes with different weights of engraving to choose between. One brooch featured a lighter engrave and the other a darker engrave with more depth that was created using more power. You can see them in the picture above.

Selecting a product

In the end, the darker engrave was selected and Donna asked me to proceed with making the brooches. She needed enough time to attach the brooch clasps and send them out to their premium members before Shetland Wood Week begins on 22nd September! The video above shows how they’re engraved and then cut out on the machine.

 

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Crail Castle Walkway panorama

Crail Castle Walkway panorama

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

The Crail Preservation Society wanted to refresh the Crail Castle Walkway panorama showing landmarks on the opposite side of the Firth of Forth. The old one was printed and mounted in a box to protect it from the weather, but it hadn’t survived the elements in that exposed spot. This time, they wanted it engraved on a piece of wood to fit the location.

I love panoramas, so I was really excited about this project!

Converting the panorama artwork for engraving

Dennis wanted to use the artwork that had been used for the previous panorama. It had been created by artist Kurt Diggelman. It had to be modified as it was in colour and the laser can’t engrave in colour. Catriona of CatMac Design is a graphic designer who helps me out with things like this, and she worked with Dennis to a create black and white vector artwork conversion of Kurt’s image.

One of my concerns was whether the text would be easy to read without people having to bend down. To check this, I performed some test engraves of the smallest text and they worked better than I’d expected.

A piece of white oak

Dennis knew Frazer Reid of FAR Cabinet Makers, so he asked him about what wood would be best to use for this project. Not only did it have to look beautiful, but it had to be suitable for outdoor display in an exposed spot. Frazer suggested white oak, and supplied a beautifully prepared piece 1330 x 385mm and about an inch thick. The maximum width of the machine is 1340mm, so it was a snug fit!

Crail Castle Walkway panorama

Engraving the panorama detail

I used machine settings to make sure the detail of the text would be as clear as possible. Then I engraved the wood with maximum power for best possible contrast between the engravings and the wood. Dennis was delighted with the results. It’s hoped that the panorama will be installed this week in its new home.

 

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personalised coaster wedding favours

Personalised coaster wedding favours

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

Personalised favours are becoming more popular for weddings. Regular enquiries come from couples for individual touches that will remind guests of their special day. Usually wedding favours are requested with occasional wedding logs and stationary embellishments.

Rustic coasters

Rachel’s son and his fiancee wanted rustic coasters engraved with details of their wedding to give to their guests as favours. Everyone uses coasters, and they can bring back happy memories every time they catch the eye.

Gill and Ali wanted to use slices of tree branches. They asked local company Thomson Timber to make them, and they very kindly recommended my engraving services.

Designing the artwork

Rachel popped round to the workshop with the coasters when they were ready. Most of them were around 85mm in diameter, and they were all different shapes as branches aren’t perfect circles in cross section as you can see in the photo below. Jim had finished them beautifully on their presentation sides, but made sure all the coasters still retained the rustic look that Gill and Ali wanted.

Rachel had a note of the text to be engraved. Each coaster was to be the same with the wedding venue, the couple’s names, and the date of their wedding.

I laid the three lines out, and we chose a font that Rachel was happy with, making Gill and Ali’s names the focal point. We chose a size for the artwork so it would still fit on the smaller coasters without looking squashed. Then I engraved a sample so Rachel could see how they’d look.

branch slices ready for engraving
branch slices ready for engraving

Engraving wedding favours

As the text was quite small and fine, I suggested engraving at a slower speed to keep the engravings crisp. This had the added advantage of giving the engravings more depth which helps fine detail to stand out more. Rachel was delighted with the results, and I engraved the rest of the coasters.

 

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Forsyth Dancing Shoes decoration

Forsyth Dancing Shoes decorations

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Forsyth Dancing Shoes sells Highland dancing shoes and pumps.  As well as shoes, Nichola has other merchandise like tea towels,  greetings cards and notebooks decorated with  designs she commissioned. She thought that hanging decorations would be a good addition to their range.

Dancing shoes artwork

Nichola’s friend Louise McLaren is an artist based in Comrie. She makes paper cut designs and she creates the artwork for Forsyth Dancing Shoes’ merchandise. Louise adjusted the artwork she created for the greetings cards for the decorations and provided the design in a vector format for laser cutting because she knew that Nichola wanted shapes cut out rather than printed.

What material to choose?

Nichola emailed me the artwork and gave me a call to discuss ideas. She wanted something that would look good spray painted or as they are in a material that would be robust, light and cost effective.

I suggested 3mm ply and mdf, or 2mm mdf if Nichola wanted something even lighter. Plywood is a nice option as the wood grain is attractive, but mdf has a pleasing earthy appearance. Both options are good value and require similar cutting settings at the same thickness.

The artwork included lots of fine detail. Louise had done a good job of keeping the design details 2 to 3mm thick to keep them as robust as possible. Any of the materials I suggested would work well for this new product.

Nichola chose 3mm ply, and I sent her a photo of a prototype. She loved it!

Nichola sells her dancing shoes and other products online and at dancing competitions. Her new decorations will have their first outing at a competition in Inverness this weekend. Hopefully they will be a great addition to her range.

 

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