Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame

Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Welsh Oak Frame are award winning designers and builders of beautiful oak frame buildings across the UK. Becky, their Marketing Manager, contacted me in December to ask if I could make 120 oak coasters for a corporate event they had this month.  She wanted them to the same design as I had made for them previously with their logo centred on an oak heart at 100 x 100mm.

Tweaking the logo

Welsh Oak Frame’s logo oak frame part of the logo in white against a shaded background. When the original design was settled on, I suggested that we could either engrave this component as it was, or invert it so that the A frame shape itself was engraved along with the text. We decided that the latter option would look better on the coasters.

Sourcing oak

I had a month to make these coasters, and I knew that my biggest potential problem was sourcing the oak in time. Max McCance is a local furniture maker, and he rips up batons of oak for me to make lovely sanded strips at 6 – 7mm thick, perfect for creating coasters and other bespoke products. Thankfully, Max had the right oak in stock and made the batons for me before Christmas.

Welsh Oak Frame coaster

Making the coasters

I set up the artwork for production so that the outline of the heart was cut through, giving the coasters the tell tale dark edges.

Raster engraving the logo makes the engraving stand out much more than if their outlines alone were vector (outline) engraved. It gives the logo a pleasing 3D effect that feels satisfying in the hand as well as looking smart.

Finishing touches

After production, I sanded the coasters lightly if they needed it. Then I applied coats of oil to protect the oak and enhance the wood grain. You can see the difference it makes in the photo above. The coaster was treated, but the small heart wasn’t.

Each one looks different as the grain in each coaster is unique. That’s the real beauty of wood.


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


How to engrave flyreels

How to engrave flyreels

Posted Posted in Anodised aluminium, Corporate

Simon from Simba Rods hand builds bespoke fly fishing rods in Crieff. He decided to expand his range to include reels, and wanted to have his logo and item numbers laser engraved onto them.

Engraving challenges

Simon said that most of the reels were made of anodised aluminium in silver, black and red. All engravings on anodised aluminium are silvery white, so I told Simon that there may be less contrast for engravings on them.

As the engravings would small and the logo is fine, I wasn’t sure how the logos might come out. To make things more complex, Simon told me that some of the areas he wanted engraved were concave, some were convex and others flat. I was concerned that depending on the heights and depths of the concave and convex areas, the laser might lose focus and the engraving quality might suffer. And metal is not forgiving to engrave at the best of times!

l talked Simon through all my production issues so he could understand the challenges I faced. I suggested that performing test engraves would give us a clear idea of what results we could expect, and he gamely agreed.

Simba Rods logo

Engraving the samples

Before Simon came, I traced his jpg logo to create a vector version. I could rescaled it without loss of quality to increase our chances of high quality results. This is particularly important for small engravings on metal.

Simon brought his sample reels to the workshop. He had a range of sizes- larger salmon reels and smaller trout reels, with black, silver and red parts to engrave. First, we measured the areas on the reels where he wanted the engravings to be and scaled his logo to three sizes, 15, 19 and 24mm wide.

The biggest challenge was setting up the reels in the laser. I created a stack of slates that the reels could sit on so the engraved surfaces were uppermost and the handles could face down beside the slates. Then I had to keep the reels stable by pushing small stacks of ply business cards under the reel rims. It was a bit of a faff, but it worked!

We decided to start with the easiest scenario first. I set up a reel with a black flat area. The results were of excellent quality with crisp finish and great contrast. Encouraged, I tried a convex red area next. Again, the results were fantastic. Finally, we tried a silver concave area that needed the smallest engraving size. this too engraved beautifully with better contrast than I’d expected. Simon was delighted with the engravings.

Simba Rods reel in black
Salmon reel with engravings on black and silver anodised aluminium. The engraved spindle rotates.

First production runs

Simon had ordered 48 reels of different sizes and colours. When they had arrived, he brought them to the workshop for engraving. He unpacked them all and checked with me what should be engraved where on each reel to save time. And he’s brought me a red bean bag that he hoped would help with setting the reels up in the machine. It was perfect. You can see it in use in the top picture.

Then he brought a second delivery. While he was here, he had another idea, but I’ll save that for another blog!


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

Cask ends for Diageo

Cask ends for Diageo

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

My earliest high profile job came as a result of networking.

Whilst visiting the new bottling plant at Diageo‘s Leven site with Fife Chamber of Commerce, I met Richard the site manager. I had a chance to tell him about LaserFlair and that I could help with customised engraving jobs that might come up. Within two weeks, he was on the phone asking if I could help with a project.

Top secret!

Richard told me that in a fortnight, a VIP was to open the new bioenergy plant and distillery expansion at the Cameron Bridge Distillery near Leven. He wanted two cask ends to be engraved with the Cameron Brig logo and details about the grand opening.

One cask end was to be hung on the wall at the distillery to commemorate the visit, and the other would be part of an oak cask filled with Cameron Brig whisky. During the opening ceremony, the VIP would ‘hammer in the bung’ of the filled cask. It would then be stored for maturation before being auctioned off for charity. Richard told me that this project was be top secret because of the identity of the VIP.

 Cameron Brig artwork proofs

Artwork set up

A week later, one of Richard’s colleagues sent me a copy of the Cameron Brig logo with the wordings to be engraved. Ian also gave me a diagram of how he wanted the engravings to appear on the different cask ends. I sent him proofs that he approved. All the black detail was to be raster (fill in) engraved. The outer green circles represent the cask end diameters and the space between the concentric green circles would be hidden by the cask rims.

hammering in the bung

There was a wee cooper

My next call was from Alan, the cooper from Diageo’s Alloa site. He was making the oak cask for the ceremony and would be present to help the Prime Minister hammer in the bung should he need it! Alan’s in the middle in the photo above with his apprentice to his left.

He wanted to bring the cask ends to the workshop for engraving and asked if he should bring the cask ends varnished or unvarnished. It didn’t make a difference to me, but the finish would look better if the engraved areas were varnished too. He decided that he’d prefer to have them engraved and then varnish the cask on one go. It would be more efficient and time was tight. He came that day, I engraved the cask ends and he picked them up less than 24 hours later.

Everyone was delighted with the engraved cask ends, and the hammering in of the bung went without a hitch.


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

tiny logos on beard scissors

Tiny logos on beard scissors

Posted Posted in Artwork, Corporate, Stainless steel, Thermark

One of my most unusual enquiries came from Beard Juice. Wayne wanted to sell some beard accessories alongside his new range of beard oils, and chose surgical stainless steel beard trimming scissors. He wanted to brand them with his logo, but knew that this would be a challenge on two levels. Could I engrave on metal? And could I engrave his logo small enough to fit on the largest area available – the hinge area of the scissors?

Engraving tiny logos

Wayne sent me a copy of the Beard Juice logo in black and white. I worked out that to engrave the logo in the right place, it could be 19mm wide maximum. I was concerned that the detail in the logo wouldn’t come out clearly enough as the text lines were very fine, and the feathering around the edges might be completely lost at that scale. It was clear that the copyright logo at the top right would be too small to be seen clearly, so Wayne said I could remove it.

Beard Juice logo


Wayne send me some scissors to perform some sample engravings on. We needed to check whether the stainless steel of the scissors would be compatible with the Thermark metal marking paste. It was also important to see whether or not the logo would engrave at a high enough quality.

Thermark is a mixture of glass particles and black pigment. It looks like a grey paste and it is spread onto the surface to be engraved. After it has dried, it can be raster or vector engraved. We chose raster engraving in this case. The laser melts the glass and traps the pigment onto the surface of the metal as a layer of black enamel. Residual paste is then washed off.

Beard Juice logo zoom

It’s a great technique offering good contrast against stainless steel. But it hasn’t worked with every stainless steel sample I’ve engraved using this method. It did in this case, and the logo came up beautifully despite all my concerns. There’s no substitute for preparing samples. Then customers can be confident that they have a good product at the right price before they commit to investing in new product lines.

I sent the prototypes back to Wayne who was delighted and promptly ordered more for engraving.

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.

Branding slate coasters

Branding slate coasters

Posted Posted in Corporate, Slate

Fife Chamber of Commerce wanted to create gifts that they could give to speakers at their events. Jacqui wanted something that would be good value, but classy. A gift that would be useful, and that you’d want to have on your desk and that colleagues would envy. She asked me if I could help, and I suggested slate coasters laser engraved with their logo. Slate is chunky and beautiful, and engraved really well.

Sourcing slate

The Just Slate Company is just down the road from the Fife Chamber of Commerce office in Kirkcaldy.  They import Spanish slate and make their products on site in Fife. Their products are chunky with a riven finish, with foam backing and a food safe resin finish, making them black and shiny.

Fife Chamber liked the idea of having something made and engraved locally. We agreed that as the Chamber are VAT registered that they would source the 110mm square coasters themselves and have them delivered directly to my workshop. This helped to keep the price down and I charged for artwork set up and unit engraving only.

Logo artwork

Jacqui sent several versions of the Chamber logo in colour, all in red, black and white, including a png, a giff and an eps. Eps files are vector files that are easy to rescale without loss of image quality. And in this case, changing the logo from colour to black and white was easy as the logo is relatively simple, so I could do it myself.

I rescaled the logo to 70 x 50mm. This looked good centred on the 110 x 110mm slate coasters, and sent Jacqui a proof.

Engraving slate

Once Jacqui had given me approval for the artwork, I carried on with engraving. When slate is engraved, the mark is silvery grey against the black background and it looks very smart.

It’s easy to overpower slate when engraving it. Only a small amount of power is needed. Overpowering makes the engraving appears yellowish and the engraved surface looks a bit pitted, detracting from the look of the product. Most of the slate I engrave comes from The Just Slate Company, and my usual machine settings worked well.

Fife Chamber of Commerce were so pleased with their coasters that they came back for more the following year.