restored farm kist

Restored farm kist

Posted Posted in Artwork, Furniture, How to

John from Firhills Farm in Arbroath was on a mission. He wanted to restore the old farm kist (Scots blanket box) that they take to agricultural shows where they show their Charolais cattle, beautiful creatures with gorgeous curly creamy coats. We’ve helped furniture makers create personalised features on new pieces, so when John and his wife got in touch, we were keen to help.

Something special

This kist had been in the family for years and it needed some love after years of hard service on the farm. It was old and battered, and if something wasn’t done soon, the kist was likely to fall apart.

As Christmas loomed, John decided that restoring it would be a great gift idea for his dad. He wanted to make it special and memorable, a talking point that would be much admired by their farming colleagues. It was to be the family’s pride and joy, an emblem of their family business and their prized cattle for years to come.

Restoration process

John had done a lot of the work himself on the structure of the kist. A family friend had drawn the Charolais bull and painted the Union flag onto the lid. As a finishing touch, he asked LaserFlair if we could laser engrave ‘Firhills Charolais’ around the painting.

He detached the lid from the kist and made an appointment to bring it to our workshop. Together, we selected a font that was chunky and bold. Copperplate Gothic Bold was perfect. All the letters are upper case so the text is bold and clear, and it has elegance too.

We created the artwork for the text and centrally justified the two words in rectangles at the top and bottom of the lid. This would align the words nicely in the spaces between the painting and the edges of the kist.

When the artwork was ready, we put the lid on the laser bed. We realised when we measured up the lid as we created the artwork that it wasn’t a perfect rectangle. One end of the kist was wider than the other by 7mm! So we made up the artwork based on the smaller measurements.

John wanted a deep engrave to complement the chunkiness of the kist. The first pass was good, but we engraved another pass to add more depth as the engraving itself didn’t take too long. John, his wife and their small son enjoyed watching the engraving process. With jobs like this, having the customer there to give immediate feedback is very helpful.

Restored to its former glory

John was delighted with the results and knew that his dad would be too. Once he had finished the kist a couple of months later, he sent us a picture.

In March, we heard from John again. They had been to a show with the restored kist for the first time, and he wanted to say how pleased they were with it and how much it had been admired. The kist is used for storing show rosettes and beer amongst other things, and acts as a useful seat occasionally. Now it’s beautiful as well as useful.

how unicorns are made

How unicorns are made

Posted Posted in Artists, Designers, How to, Signage, Wood

InkPaintPaper is an artist and illustrator in Norfolk. She makes hand painted personalised plywood decorations and signs, all to her own design.

She had ideas for new products to add to her plywood signs line. One of her wrapping paper designs has a unicorn motif, the same one that she has on her logo, and she thought it would be a fun shape for bedroom door signs. So she got in touch with LaserFlair to discuss the feasibility of her plan.

Product development

InkPaintPaper and I have worked together for a few years now. She knows that we need vector artwork to cut out shapes and understands that chunky shapes are most robust. Her artwork was perfect first time with a single hairline line surrounding each unicorn. The most vulnerable point was where the unicorn’s tail meets its body, but at 10mm wide, it not a cause for concern, especially as she wanted to use 4mm laser ply. Being formed from laminated layers in birch, plywood is inherently strong and the unicorns would would be robust enough to send through the post.

Prototypes

This was a pretty straight forward product development project. InkPaintPaper knew exactly what she wanted, her artwork was good, the product robust and the material choice clear.

We laser cut some prototype unicorns for InkPaintPaper to decorate and test the market with. She hand painted them and got feedback via social media. It wasn’t long before she came back with an order for a production run of unicorns in the run up to Christmas!

beard comb branding

Beard comb branding

Posted Posted in Corporate, How to, Other, Recycled wood, Wood

Bearded Basturds is a Dunfermline based startup company with a range of beard oils and waxes that don’t contain harsh chemicals or alcohol.

Craig started to get inquiries for beard combs from customers. He wanted something wooden if possible, and wondered if it might be an option to have them laser engraved with his logo. So he got in touch with LaserFlair to see if we could help.

On his search for fabulous and original beard combs, Craig came across The Upcycled Timber Company, a start up based in Glenrothes. They make all sorts of things from recycled wooden whisky barrels, and now they make chunky and manly combs for Bearded Basturds too. Each one is unique with a slightly different shape as they are all handmade.

Making prototypes

Craig brought some sample combs round to our workshop to test engrave them. He decided that he wanted his beard logo on one side and the company name on the other. Getting the size of the text and logo just right for the combs would be important for product aesthetics. In addition, we knew that a good 3D effect would complement the combs’ rugged appearance.

We made the engraving for the text deeper than for the beard logo. A deeper engrave makes finer features like text stand out more. Larger engraved areas don’t need as much depth relatively as finer engraving. So although the engravings were done at different power settings, they look similar in depth which is what Craig wanted.

In the engraved beard logos especially, the light and dark growth rings in the wood are highlighted. Engraving is deeper over the less dense spring/summer growth rings, and shallower over the denser autumn/winter growth rings. You can see this in the picture, and it is clearer in the logo than the text. This is one of my favourite features of laser engraved wood.

It has been wonderful to work with two other local companies to make such an original product with a good story. The engraved beard combs look amazing, and we’re really proud of what we’ve created together.

working with furniture makers

Working with furniture makers

Posted Posted in Designers, Furniture, How to, Wood

Hugh Parsons Design is a furniture maker based in Newbattle. Hugh has created a striking maple, cherry and fumed oak mirror with a celtic pattern using traditional marquetry techniques.

He asked LaserFlair if we could engrave a recessed triangle pattern on the mirror frames and also laser cut fumed oak veneer into triangles of three sizes. The engraving creates enough depth for the fumed oak triangles to sit into so that they sit slightly proud of the frame. Once fitted, Hugh sands the frames so that the triangles are flush with the surface of the frame.

Hugh and I spent a good half day doing tests to make sure that everything would fit together properly!

Testing

First, we test engraved some triangles on frame offcuts. After a few tests, we selected engraving power settings to achieve the right depth for the oak veneer to fit so that it was neither too shallow nor too deep in relation to the mirror surface.

Engraving

Then we set up the mirror on a jig so that the laser was aligned as closely as possible to the frame while the triangular pattern was engraved. The large triangles in the top right and bottom left corners of the mirror point right into those corners. Human eyes can detect an error or 1mm or more which would detract from the effect. We use a jig to get as close as possible to perfection as doing it by eye just isn’t accurate enough.

Cutting the veneer

Finally, we needed to make sure that the fumed oak triangles would fit the engraved areas properly. I cut some samples and Hugh tested them for fit, knowing what he required for best results. We had to tweak the sizes a bit to get them right. The veneer was quite hard to cut as it comes in quite tight rolls. We had to weigh the strips down to keep them flat during production to make sure they ended up with the right sizes.

Hugh finishes off the mirrors by cutting grooves at 45 degrees to the frames. He coloured them to match the triangles, and the effect is striking and beautiful. We’re so proud to help craftsmen to create such beautiful pieces. Hugh exibited his Celtic Mirrors at the SFMA exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2016. He also sells them on his website.

how to create a giant jigsaw puzzle

How to create a giant jigsaw puzzle

Posted Posted in Artwork, Designers, Exhibitions, How to, Wood

FifeX designs, creates and installs bespoke interactive products, exhibitions and educational resources. They’re based nearby in Tayport. Ken Boyd approached us to help them produce two A2 sized jigsaw puzzles for their customer, REME Museum of Technology. REME wanted to replace two puzzles that were worn out as they had been so well used by visitors.

The museum had two images that they wanted to make into jigsaws. We thought long and hard about the best materials to use and how to cut the pieces accurately, and came up with a plan.

Choosing a material

Firstly, we had to select a material to make the jigsaws from. We settled on 6mm birch plywood because it laser cuts well and wood is a lovely, chunky material to handle. Being pale in colour, the pictures would show up clearly. Also, the wood grain would be visible through the print, a lovely feature. And plywood is robust, chunky and lightweight, very important considerations when the product is designed with younger visitors in mind.

Creating the jigsaw

Once the customer had chosen the material, LaserFlair cut two A2 sized shapes from 6mm plywood and sent them to the printer. They applied the pictures and returned the panels to LaserFlair for cutting into jigsaw pieces.

FifeX found a piece of software for designing jigsaw piece layouts and shapes. It created vector lines that the laser can follow to cut the lines between the pieces. We could select how many pieces we wanted in the x and y axes, and choose regularly or irregularly shaped pieces. We decided on 20 pieces to make each piece the size that the customer wanted, and selected an irregular cutting pattern for more interest. Then we laser cut the puzzle.

The whole process was a great success. This picture shows one of the jigsaws sitting on the laser bed after cutting.

Engraving granny's handwriting

Engraving granny’s handwriting

Posted Posted in Artwork, How to, Wood

A customer asked if I could laser engrave six wooden chopping boards with her granny’s Highlander recipe as gifts for her family for Christmas. To make the gifts extra special, she had scanned her granny’s recipe from her old recipe book. She  wondered if we could engrave the boards to look as if her granny had written the recipe on the boards herself.

My customer prepared the artwork herself and got it right first time.

Scanning handwriting for laser engraving

We need artwork for engraving in black and white with no greyscale. This is very important because the laser either engraves or doesn’t engrave. It engraves black and doesn’t engrave white. If the artwork is greyscale, the software interprets greys as being either dark enough to be black or pale enough to be white and engraves accordingly. The laser creates shades of grey in the way that old fashioned newsprint did, by engraving concentrations of black pixels. As the laser engraves each black pixel, black and white artwork works best.

It is also important that if artwork if presented in jpg, png or bitmap format (as my customer did), the graphics must be of print quality, in other words, 300dpi or greater. Unwanted pixellation will be engraved, so customers should provide good, clean unpixellated images for best results. Engraving is only as good as the artwork is.

Engraving the boards

The text was very fine, as you’d expect from handwriting. We performed some test engraves and got good results using a deep engrave to give the text good definition. My customer loved the engraved boards. Having a fresh reminder of her granny in her kitchen was special as she prepared to start her own family.