sandford country cottages keyrings

Sandford Country Cottages keyrings

Posted Posted in Designers, Wood

Evelyn Hardie from Sandford Country Cottages got in touch. She and her husband have six holiday cottages at their lovingly restored Arts and Crafts property, Sandford House in North East Fife. As a finishing touch, she wanted to create beautiful wooden keyrings for her customers to use.

Pieces of oak

You can never go wrong with oak. It’s so beautiful and looks wonderful when engraved. Evelyn’s joiner created fobs from leftover oak complete with drilled and countersunk holes, and she brought them around to the workshop for engraving.

Keyring artwork

As Evelyn is a designer, she created all the artwork for the keyrings herself. She wanted all the keyrings to have the Sandford Country Cottages logo engraved on one side and the cottage names on the other side. Three keyrings were needed for each cottage, plus a master keyring with the logo engraved on both sides.

Evelyn set up the artwork in rectangles representing the oak blocks so that the engravings would be correctly positioned on each keyring. Locations of the holes were shown on the artwork as a reference so I knew where the engravings should be in relation to them.

Sandford keyrings artwork

Engraving the keyrings

Evelyn had been concerned that the fine nature of her logo would be a problem when the keyrings were engraved. I knew the engravings would look good if I used the correct machine settings.

I always slow the machine down for fine work to make sure that the edges of engravings look sharp. They can look ragged if a higher speed is used. I knew that the logos would look best if the engravings were a good depth. A more pronounced 3D effect gives fine engravings better definition.

When machine speed is halved, the power required can be halved to compensate for the dwell time of the laser on the material doubling. I did some tests before I started production to get the right look.

Evelyn loved the keyrings and took them home to treat them with a protective finish. As well as protecting the wood, it also enhanced the engravings further. She sent this picture of them all finished and ready for her customers to use.

 

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creating a massive floor jigsaw

Creating a massive floor jigsaw

Posted Posted in Designers, Exhibitions, Wood

The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther asked Wendy from The Malting House Design Studio to create some interactive exhibits. One of the items was to be a massive floor jigsaw. She wanted to know if I could help and if so, how best to make it.

Decisions, decisions!

I had worked with FifeX to create two giant jigsaws, so I knew this was possible. A good place to start was to decide the dimensions of the jigsaw, and what material to use.

Wendy wanted to make the jigsaw as large as possible. As my laser cutting bed is 1200 x 800mm, she chose to work with that. She wanted to make the jigsaw chunky and robust. As the laser can cut 9mm thick mdf, ply and Perspex, we discussed the merits of each.

Mdf feels like a jigsaw and cuts well. Thick plywood is less good for cut work. Knots in the laminated layers prevent clean cut throughs as the wood is more dense, and this can ruin a job. Perspex is good for cutting, but edges can be sharp and could hurt children. As the jigsaw needed to be printed with artwork, the decision came down to material properties and printability.

We agreed that mdf was the best material as it could be sprayed white before printing to make sure the colours popped. It would laser cut well, and the pieces would be safe to handle.

Artwork for printing

Wendy planned to create and adapt all the artwork required herself. She had a picture by Jurek Putter for printing onto the jigsaw, and the first step was to print the mdf board at the right size.

I suggested that we should make the mdf board a bit larger than the jigsaw needed to be. An extra 5mm in each direction would making the board 1210 x 810mm. If the edges became scuffed during printing or shipping, if wouldn’t matter. I would laser cut the final shape when I cut the jigsaw pieces so all the edges would look the same.

Wendy arranged to have the image printed a little bigger than 1200 x 800mm with 2 to 3mm bleeds at each edge. This standard printing practice would make sure that the jigsaw would be printed right to the laser cut edges.

Laser cutting a jigsaw

To laser cut the jigsaw, I needed a vector file with lines that the laser would follow to cut each shape.

My top tip for Wendy was to have sets of horizontal and vertical lines that the laser would cut once only. The laser can cut 9mm mdf in one pass. Cutting the same line twice means that the back can be damaged by heat and flaming if the material catches even momentarily. Working this way reduces production time and improves product quality while keeping costs down.

Wendy wanted the jigsaw to contain lots of interesting shapes that were not necessarily fully interlocking. She wanted to have four shapes, a barrel, a cross, a bird and a window incorporated into the design. I agreed that she could have whatever she wanted if she stuck to my vector artwork design tips!

All our careful preparation paid off.  Wendy made the outline rectangle of the jigsaw 1200 x 800mm and asked that the Jurek Putter mark at the edge of the artwork was included. The jigsaw cut cleanly and beautifully. The picture at the top is of the jigsaw on the laser after cutting. It filled the whole machine bed. Laser cut mdf edges are black and they contrasted well with the picture side and the white back of the puzzle.

Wendy was delighted with the results, and so was the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

Oak sign for The Cellar Restaurant

Oak sign for The Cellar Restaurant

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Billy Boyter is the chef – owner at The Cellar Restaurant in Anstruther. After seeing pictures of the oak signs I’d laser engraved for Cambo Estate on Instagram, Billy sent a message asking if I could engrave one for him too.

A piece of oak

Frazer Reid of FAR Cabinet Makers had prepared the oak for the Cambo Estate signs, so Billy contacted him to see if he could supply the wood. He wanted the sign to be double sided as it would be hung out over the footpath. This meant that both sides had to be sanded and prepared. As the Cambo signs were fixed to walls and gateposts, they were only prepared on the presentation side.

Rescaling The Cellar’s logo

Billy emailed several different versions of his logo to me. He didn’t have a vector format which is best as they can be resized without loss of artwork quality. The black and white png that he sent was good, so I traced it to create a vector and rescaled it to suit the size of the sign. If I had stretched the png, the image would have looked pixellated. That would have been visible in the engraving too, making curves look jagged.

I sent a proof to Billy to show him how the logo would look on the sign and he was happy with it. As his logo was very fine, I suggested that it might be best to engrave it twice to get a deeper mark. Cambo’s oak from the estate was very dense and there wasn’t much depth to the engravings on their signs, but the engravings looked good as the Cambo artwork was chunkier and bolder. So I quoted for engraving each side once or twice incase the engrave needed more depth.

 

Engraving the sign

After I engraved the first side of the sign, I checked the engraving for depth. It looked fine, so I decided not to do a second pass. After I engraved the second side, Frazer collected it for varnishing and installation.

 

Have you got a project that you think we could help you with? Contact us or ask for a quote.

branded golf bag tags

Branded golf bag tags

Posted Posted in Corporate, Other, Wood

Shona from Holiday Essentials got in touch. Her customer, Scottish Golf Tours, wanted a welcome gift box for their American visitors. They wanted to include bespoke golf bag tags or keyrings that their customers would love so much that they’d keep using them after they returned home. Shona asked if I could help her create something special.

Designing the tags

I knew that 3mm laser ply would be perfect for making the tags as the laminated layers of wood give strength to detailed shapes and the material is well priced. We needed to find a chunky design that would be robust enough to last for years on a well used golf bag.

Shona found a fun design online in black and white and in vector format – ideal for laser cutting! Its license also allowed us to use it for commercial purposes. The details of the clubs and golf bag strap were chunky and there was space on the bag to engrave Scottish Golf Tours’ logo. Just perfect for what we needed!

 

artwork for golf bag tag
artwork for golf bag tags

Prototypes for approval

Shona came to the workshop and we made some prototypes together.

We made two samples: a keyring 75mm long and a golf bag tag 100mm long. Each sample was laser cut from 3mm laser ply and featured vector engraved golf bag detail with a raster engraved logo. As we thought the golf ball part of the logo was too small to engrave clearly, we just engraved the flag and the text. The small green box to the top left corner of the logo is a white square that covers the golf ball. This means that the laser doesn’t see it to engrave it.

Shona proudly took our samples to show Scottish Golf Tours who loved them both. It made sense to select one option. They realised that golf bag tags would be on display on golf courses more than keyrings. They wanted them to be objects of desire that their customers’ friends, family and fellow golfers would envy. Perhaps they would dream of their own visit to the Home of Golf! Scottish Golf Tours decided to proceed with the golf bag tags and placed an order with Holiday Essentials.

First production run

As the golf season was starting, there was no time to loose! The first order was for 200 tags. I made them as soon as I could and Shona compiled the gift boxes in time for Scottish Golf Tours’ first foreign visitors arriving.

Shona found beautiful leather straps which she looped through the golf bag strap to finish them.

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.

 

 

Cambo Estate's wooden keyrings

Cambo Estate’s wooden keyrings

Posted Posted in Artwork, Corporate, Wood

Cambo Estate decided to have new keyrings made for their guest accommodation. They wanted to use chunky fobs of wood from the estate and engrave them with their logo on one side and accommodation details on the other side. We knew that the logo would be a challenge as it’s highly detailed. How would it look when scaled right down?

Engraving room names

Once the wooden blocks were ready, we could begin. They were 80 x 30mm, and felt smooth, chunky and light in the hand. Large enough to be hard to loose, but small enough to be easily carried!

Cambo wanted the text to be raster (fill in) engraved for maximum impact. They provided the artwork for all the accommodation names in black and white pdf files, which was perfect as it ensures good engraving quality. Text for each name was shown in rectangles representing the fob size so the engravings were located where the customer wanted them, offset to the right to leave room for holes to be drilled.

As the engravings were a good size, we engraved using our usual machine settings for wood. We had to secure the fobs in the machine to stop them from moving during production. Compressed air is blown at 1.5bar at the engraved surface to get best results, and this can blow small items out of place.

Engraving the Cambo Estate logo

Cambo’s logo is very detailed. It’s difficult to downscale logos like so that fine detail isn’t lost. In this case, the bird and the sheaf of wheat at the top of the logo and the helmet were the most vulnerable areas. It they engraved well at the size required, the logo would look fine.

Again, the customer supplied the logo as a black and white pdf.  We had to rescale the logo dramatically to fit the fobs. Using vector artwork means that this can be done with no reduction in artwork quality.

Struan and Frances were open minded about how they wanted the logo to appear on the keyrings. Would the logo look better engraved at the bottom of vertical keyrings or in the middle of horizontal keyrings (pictured)? From the start, I was sure that the latter option would be better as the logo could be made bigger, increasing the chances of success.

We did sample raster engraves of both options. My hunch was right. Horizontally engraved keyrings looked good and were just big enough to see all the detail. Including the text, the logo is 24 x 36mm, and the coat of arms alone is tiny at 13 x 15mm.

A lot of details were lost on the vertical sample.  Unfortunately, it was just too small to work well.

Cambo approved the horizontal option, and we engraved all the backs of the keyrings. We used a much slower speed to engrave the logos – a quarter of the speed used to engrave the accommodation names! This kept the logo as sharp as possible. We also engraved the coat of arms with more power than the text underneath to give more definition.

Finishing touches

Cambo drilled and countersunk holes in all the engraved fobs ready for the split ring keyring hoops.