geometric plywood decorations

Geometric plywood decorations

Posted Posted in Designers, Wood

Jessica Taylor is a graphic designer in Ayrshire. She prints her geometric animal designs on prints cards and tote bags, and makes enamel pins too.

After following each other for a few months on Instagram, Jessica got in touch and asked if I could help her make some new products. She liked the idea of making decorations from her designs and wondered what might be possible.

Decoration ideas

Being familiar with Jessica’s work, I suggested that her artwork would be perfect for plywood decorations. Shape outlines could be laser cut and the internal geometric lines could be vector engraved with excellent contrast. Plywood is beautiful, light and good value. 3mm would be robust enough, and it would be easy to add holes for hanging. Jessica liked the idea.

Artwork adjustment

Jessica decided that she’d like to start with her geo bear, geo seahorse and geo penguin designs. She wanted the bear to be 70mm long  and the penguin and seahorse 70mm high.

Vector artwork is required for laser cutting and vector engraving which is like cutting, but just marking the surface. Jessica sent a sample file, but all her lines were made up of thin rectangles to give them the right thickness for printing. Unfortunately, this was no good for the laser as it would cut and engrave around each rectangle which is not what we wanted, so Jessica adjusted all the lines with perfect results.

geo seahorse for Jessica Taylor

Plywood prototypes

Once the artwork was sorted, I made some prototypes so Jessica could see how they’d look. I also wanted to find the balance points of each shape to make sure the holes would be in the right place.

Jessica was delighted! She particularly loved the bear and the seahorse and placed and order. When it arrived, she wrote me a lovely review on Facebook because she was so pleased.

She hangs the geo bears and geo seahorses with jute string and lost no time in adding them to her Etsy shop.



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

Waymarking posts for Kinghorn Creative

Waymarking posts for Kinghorn Creative

Posted Posted in Designers, Stainless steel, Thermark, Wood

Ritchie Feenie from Kinghorn Creative was asked to design and create six sign posts for Kinghorn Community Land Association. He asked if I could advise him on design and then laser engrave the sign posts.

Style of post

Ritchie sent me some pictures of how he wanted the posts to look. He wanted them to be square in profile and a metre high, but he wanted the tops cut at an angle with engraving on the angled surface. Would this be possible?

I knew this would be tricky as the posts would have to be propped up in the machine to make the angled surface horizontal, and the posts would have to be limited in length to 1300mm to fit inside the machine.

Then Ritchie had an idea. If we had engraved metal plates on the angled surfaces, we wouldn’t need to put the posts in the laser for engraving so we wouldn’t have to worry about their size. I could order stainless steel plates and engrave them much more easily.

We decided to use green oak or larch for the posts as they’re great for outdoor use without treatment. As larch was the cheaper option, Ritchie settled on that.


Deciding on the artwork

Initially, Ritchie’s customers wanted all the engraving to be on the stainless steel plaques. Ritchie sent me a proposed design. My initial thought was that too much detail was squeezed onto the plates. I was worried that the details could be too fine for good engraving results, especially on the Lottery logos. As the project was lottery funded, the logos needed to be well defined and easy to read.

As nothing that could be lost from the design, Ritchie suggested to his customer that some of the engraving could be on the wood under the metal plates. It was agreed that this would be a good place for the Lottery logos that could be made much larger and clearer.

Creating waymarking posts

Ritchie ordered six 1300mm larch posts and brought them to the workshop for engraving, and the Lottery logos came out as well as I’d hoped. I put the posts sideways into the laser, dropping the machine bed to suit the depth of the posts. Then, I engraved the logos sideways onto them to they were in the right orientation on the posts.

I ordered six metal plates in marine grade stainless steel plates. It’s ideal for coastal locations as it can withstand salty conditions without corroding. We decided to get plates with radiused corners to make the corners rounded to match the edges of the posts.

To achieve an engraving on stainless steel, I spread Thermark paste onto the plates, let it dry and then engrave. Thermark leaves a weatherproof, abrasion resistant enamel mark where the laser has melted the glass particles and trapped black pigment onto the metal surface. You can one of the plates after engraving in the picture above. Excess Thermark is then removed, leaving the shiny plate with a high contrast engraving.

Once I had glued the plates onto the posts, they were ready for Ritchie to install.


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

Orkney Museum table top game

Orkney Museum table top game

Posted Posted in Designers, Wood

Rhona Jenkins is a designer in Orkney. At the start of this year, she was working with Orkney Museum to create new Viking and Medieval galleries. She contacted Ken Boyd from FifeX as she wanted to create interactive exhibits. One was to be a large tabletop game, and Ken asked if I could help him as Rhona wanted the detail laser engraved.

Constructing the table top

Ken knew that there are limitations on the sizes of pieces of wood that I can cut and engrave, and on thicknesses that I can cut through.

He wanted the table to be chunky and thick. As the maximum thickness of ply that I can laser cut is 9mm and thick ply is slow to laser cut, we decided that it would be best if Ken sourced the plywood. Then he could choose the look and thickness that he wanted, cut it to size and finish it. Then he would bring the relevent pieces to me for engraving.

As the table top was to be made of two layers, this gave us lots of flexibility. Ken could make the table base the size that he wanted. There would be four large engraved pieces that would sit on top of the base along with the square game pieces. All these parts would be engraved and he could be made at sizes to fit the laser. You can see the two layers in the pictures.

Medieval game detail

The centrepiece of the table was to be a large map of medieval Kirkwall covered with geographical features like rivers, the natural harbour, the site of the town and the new cathedral. Ken designed it to be 1174 x 794mm so it fit the laser bed. It took a whole day to engrave due to the size!

Surrounding the map at the edges of the table are three long panels describing aspects of Kirkwall life and the trades of the people, all beautifully illustrated. Each of these pieces was 1170 x 166mm.

Finally, I engraved the game pieces with symbols of the local tradesmen including barrels, musical instruments, fish and leather hides. Ken cut and prepared the counters and attached them to two small boards so I could engrave a grid of 5 x 5 symbols on each set.

These pieces were all cut to size by FifeX and I engraved them which saved a lot on production costs. Ken provided all the artwork as black and white vector files.

Finishing touches

FifeX assembled the table. When it arrived in Orkney, Rhona arranged for colour wash to be applied to the sea areas of the map. It looks lovely, and I love the illustration. The exhibitions opened during the summer.

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

Perspex legs for designer table

Perspex legs for designer table

Posted Posted in Designers, Furniture, Perspex

Trevor Coston is a freelance designer based in the Highlands. Bisque commissioned him to design and install a conference table for their London radiator showroom. They wanted their radiators illuminated through glass portholes in the tabletop as a focal point. Bisque loved the results.

Subsequently, the Zehnder Group commissioned him to design a coffee table around one of their own radiators. It would be one of the first things that visitors would see in their new multi-million pound Customer Experience Centre.  Something special was required.

Making an invisible table

Trevor investigated about a dozen different designs using different models of radiators. He decided to suspend one of their Classic column radiators almost invisibly under a glass top. 9mm Perspex seemed the obvious choice for the legs, so he pared the shape down to the minimum required to hold the weight of the radiator and table top. The next challenge was to find a suitable supplier to make them, and he got in touch with LaserFlair.

I laser cut the table leg shapes from 9mm Perspex and sent them to Trevor. During production, I left the protective film on the Perspex sheet to protect the it from the heat of the laser. Heat makes it turn cloudy around the cut edges which detracts from the finish. It’s also useful to leave the films on Perspex products to protect them during shipping as Perspex can get scratched easily.

radiator table perspex top

Another happy customer

Trevor said: ‘I found LaserFlair through a Google search. Instantly, I knew that it would be my first choice of supplier. It was a fairly local small company and very competitive on costs and lead times.

The components arrived on time, machined exactly as I requested. Once assembled, the table looked fantastic. I now have quite a few projects in mind that I would like to use LaserFlair for. It’s very exciting  to think about what we could achieve together in the future.’


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

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.


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

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.