engraving stainless steel hip flasks

Branding stainless steel hip flasks

Posted Posted in Corporate, Stainless steel

Tom and Karen opened their new Scotch whisky gift shop, The Wee Couper of Fife, six weeks ago.  Initially, they asked me to laser cut gift box foam inserts for them. Then they had another idea. They’d ordered stainless steel hip flasks for inclusion in some of the sets, but their supplier sent the wrong size for the gift boxes!

Rather than returning the 200 flasks, Tom and Karen wondered if I could engrave them with their logo so they could sell them separately.

Engraving stainless steel

My laser can mark some metals directly, but stainless steel isn’t one of them unfortunately. However, there is a wonderful product called Thermark that changes this. It’s a grey paste made up of fine glass particles and black pigment. After it’s been painted on and left to dry, I can engrave as usual.

This process leaves a matt black enamel mark on the metal surface and the remainder of the paste can be washed off. It’s weather proof and highly scratch resistant, and it sits slightly proud of the metal’s surface.

I knew it would be perfect for the hipflasks as it would give a high contrast engraving.  Tom and Karen liked the idea.

Branding artwork proof

Tom asked if I could make up a design using their logo with the text they wanted underneath. He sent me a copy of the logo in vector format so I could rescale it without loss of image quality. This is really important for achieving a high quality engraving.

Tom asked for the artwork  to be approximately 45 x 45mm so it would fit onto any hip flask size they had and we could use one size of artwork for them all. The flask in the picture at the top is one of the shortest flasks and you can see how the engraving fits.

Engraved hipflask set for The Wee Couper of Fife

Engraving sample hip flasks

Tom and Karen liked the proof and brought around a box with two sizes of large and small hip flasks. Both they engraved well. They were so pleased that they decided to have them all engraved, even the ones in the gift boxes! It’s a great way for the Coupers to add more branding to their products. Their customers will still use the hip flasks long after the miniatures have been consumed.

 

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Cutting foam inserts for gift boxes

Cutting foam inserts for gift boxes

Posted Posted in Corporate, Other

Tom and Karen Couper have just opened their beautiful new shop, The Wee Couper of Fife,  in Anstruther where they sell boxed miniature sets.

Bespoke inserts for a range of products

Tom and Karen wanted to make up their own unique gift sets. They sourced boxes with foam inserts, but these inserts just came as a whole square. The Coupers needed to have shapes cut out of the inserts to match the 14 individual gift sets they planned to start with. Holes were required for bottles, hipflasks, golf balls and jams. And they needed to be snug so that the products would fit in the boxes securely.

The Wee Couper of Fife's Grant's, Hendricks and Grey Goose gift set
The Wee Couper of Fife’s Grant’s, Hendricks and Grey Goose gift set

Can you laser cut foam?

Tom and Karen came to the workshop to show me what they wanted to see if I could help.

Tom had mocked up a gift box to show me how he wanted them to look by cutting one foam square with a knife. It looked smart! But the question was, could I laser cut the foam for them? I’d asked Tom to check if the foam contained any PVC or teflon as they evolve acid gases during cutting, but his supplier confirmed that they didn’t and that they were suitable for laser cutting.

I had only cut closed cell foam prior to this. It cut well and the facing side looked good. But on the back, in areas where the machine slowed down to change direction, the foam melted a bit, creating pits. I tested the sample that the Coupers had brought and found settings that worked. Again, the facing side looked great, but areas on the back where angles had been cut, there were small melted pits. Tom and Karen didn’t mind as they wouldn’t be seen.

Creating artwork for the 14 foam insert styles

Now we knew I could help, the next stage was to create artwork. Fourteen files were needed, one for each set. I’m not a graphic designer, but I work with a few, and one of them is CatMac Design. Catriona created the artwork in vector format, sent it to me to check, and we were ready to go.

Grand opening!

Two weeks ago, Tom brought round the first box of foam to the workshop to cut.

On Friday 15th June, Tom and Karen proudly opened their new shop. Here’s a picture of Tom looking splendid in his uniform kilt with one of the box sets. I love the little half keg display units on the wall behind him, each containing a different gift set.

Wee Couper opening

 

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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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Author Interior's antique wooden sign

Author Interior’s antique wooden sign

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Author Interiors got in touch to ask if I could laser engrave an interesting piece of wood for them.

Jane launched her business last year in London. She curates a collection of beautifully crafted pieces for the home, all designed and made by UK makers, from furniture to wallpaper. Jane wanted a gorgeous sign with her logo and web address to welcome her guests to the Scottish opening of Author Interiors at Custom Lane in Leith last week.

An antique board with a story

When Catriona showed me photos of the wood, I was intrigued. It was big and chunky and ornately carved. Catriona said it’s an antique piece that Jane found as a pair in London ten years ago. An antique dealer told her he thought they were originally horse name plaques from a stable. And now this one had a new role to play in Author Interior’s new story!

When the wood arrived, I discussed with Jane where she wanted the engravings. She wanted to put everything on the large scroll area in the middle. The challenge was how to locate both engravings where Jane wanted them whist keeping them away from the old dark wood coatings that would give the engravings less contrast.

Author’s logo

Jane wanted her logo in the middle on the stripped area of wood for maximum impact. It was to be wide enough to fill the width but remain on the flat area. She wanted the web address to be removed enough from the logo so it would stand out, but located on a relatively stripped area of wood too so it wouldn’t be lost. You can see the video if it being engraved above.

I used a high power setting to achieve a good depth of engrave. Author’s logo is very fine, even although Jane’s designer had beefed up the line thicknesses. Fine lines usually benefits from a deeper engrave to help them stand out. And because I’d used my highest power setting, there was a little browning around the engravings that would have rubbed off. But these two effects worked beautifully to enhance the engravings in this case. They hold their own against a very characterful piece of wood.

 

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Wall graphic for Lewis and Hickey

Wall graphic for Lewis and Hickey

Posted Posted in Corporate, Signage

Lucy from Lewis and Hickey Architects in Edinburgh had a wall graphic project at their office. She got in touch to ask if I could laser cut some shapes for her from 12mm plywood or mdf. It was Monday, and she needed them to arrive at her office on Thursday!

How thick can the laser cut?

I gave Lucy a call to discuss exactly what she wanted and what compromises she might be prepared to make as the maximum thickness of laser ply and mdf I can cut is 9mm. We discussed the possibilities of creating two layers of 6mm thick ply to give 12mm, but she thought gluing would add too much time and the join would be easily seen.

Lucy also asked what the cut edges of laser ply and mdf would look like. As luck would have it, I had just published how do the edges of laser cut wood look that very morning. I talked Lucy through edge cut appearances of plywood and mdf. She asked about how clean the facing surfaces would be too. She’s seen images of face discolouration of laser cut wood. I assured her that my work would be clean and any slight discolouration could be sanded off easily.

Having seen my photos of cut mdf and laser ply, Lucy decided that 9mm laser ply would give the look she was after.

Wall graphic artwork

Lucy was happy with my quote. On Tuesday afternoon, she sent through final artwork with some changes to add an extra L&H door sign shown at the top of the page.

I selected a sheet of 9mm mdf that was knot free on one side and cut the shapes and letters. As I’d explained to Lucy, the edges of 9mm laser ply are very dark and quite dirty. If you run a finger over them, it comes away black. So after I’d cut the shapes and letters, I cleaned the edges as best I could. Then I packed them in layers of paper to keep them clean in transit.

The complete wall graphic

All the pieces arrived on Thursday as planned, and the finished piece is mounted on the wall next to the door of Lewis & Hickey’s conference room. It looks very smart in its spotlight.

 

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Branding presentation box lids

Branding presentation box lids

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Colin Grant makes wedding film through his business Orangetide Films. As part of his package, he creates presentation boxes for customers made from oak. Small boxes contain a flash drive of the film, and the large boxes also contains blu-rays and dvds.

Colin wanted to brand the plywood box lids with his logo to complete the look.

Converting the logo to black and white

The Orangetide logo is very complex and colourful. Lasers can’t engrave in colour. The colour of engravings depending on the material used and the power of the laser applied. As the laser either engraves or doesn’t engrave, black and white artwork is required for best results.

Colin sent me a black and white version of his logo in a vector file format. This was ideal. I knew I would have to resize the artwork for the two different box lid sizes. Vector artwork can be rescaled repeatedly without loss of quality.

Orangetide small box

Locating the logos

Colin settled on a large box lid size of 200 x 200mm. He wanted his whole logo on them. As there was plenty of space, he decided to have the logo sized to 135 x 135mm. I set up the logo artwork on a 200 x 200mm square so that the logo was centred between the top edge of the box and where the lid handle would be located.

On the small (98 x 80mm) box lid, Colin decided to have the text element of his logo only. This lid was much smaller, and I was worried that a lot of the full logo detail would be lost if it were scaled down so dramatically.

Colin asked me to cut and engrave all the box lids from 3mm ply so that they’d fit the box grooves.

It’s all in the detail

As the logo and the logo text were all very fine and needed to stand out, I opted for a heavier engrave.

After the first order Colin decided that he’s like the small box lid engraving to be even heavier for more definition which was easily done.

 

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