Morton of Pitmilly resort sign

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Eilidh from Morton of Pitmilly Countryside Resort needed a new sign post to direct her visitors around the site and asked if I could help. She’d seen a laser engraved wooden sign that a neighbour had commissioned, thought it looked very smart and was interested in something similar.

Sign design

Eilidh wanted a central post to stand outside reception with 14 fingers. She gave me a list of what was to go on each finger and which were to point left or right so I’d know which way round to engrave them.

Eilidh wanted a clear font, so I chose Arial and created a proof to match the wooden finger dimensions that she wanted. We decided that the text would be 70mm from the edge that would be inserted into the uprights. This would make sure that the text on all the fingers would be the same distance from the post, whichever side of the uprights they were on.

If I made the text 200 point, it fitted the finger shapes perfectly, and even the longer lines of text fitted the fingers comfortably. I sent Eilidh the proof and she was happy with it.

Wood to last the test of time

Eilidh contacted Frazer from FAR Cabinet Makers about the wood for the sign. As it was to be located outdoors, it was important to select the right wood. Oak always costs more, but it’s very beautiful and takes laser engraving very well. After some thought, Eilidh knew it was the right choice and would give the look that she wanted.

Engraving the oak fingers

When the oak was ready, I invited Eilidh to visit the workshop while I engraved the first finger. She had been considering colourfilling to make the text on the sign stand out, but I was convinced that this would not be required. If she saw the engraving and how it looked, she could decide for herself.

Eilidh and her mum were fascinated to see the laser at work, and completely agreed that the engraving was deep and dark enough to be clear. They picked up the fingers when they were all finished and their handyman assembled the sign and treated it for weather protection.

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Oak signs for The Green Lodge Aviemore

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Helen asked me if I could make two oak signs for her holiday cottage, The Green Lodge, in Aviemore. It was about to open, and she thought that signs would be lovely finishing touches that would also help visitors to find it.

Making up proofs

Helen wanted two signs, a smaller one to sit by the front door, and a larger one to sit at the turn off to the house. She had a logo that she wanted on both signs. Helen decided that an arrow on the larger one would be helpful too.

She emailed me a black and white logo in PDF format which was perfect.  I could rescale it to two sizes , one for each sign, without loss of image quality.

Helen contacted Frazer at FAR Cabinet Makers to specify the wood and sizes for the signs. Then I prepared some proofs, locating the logos centrally within the shapes of the wood. The sizes I could engrave the logos was dictated by the width of the logo. It’s important to have enough white space around artwork so that it doesn’t look crammed in.

To make sure it was clear, Helen wanted the arrow on the larger sign to be long, sitting across the width of the sign. After she saw the proof, she decided on a smaller one in the bottom left corner. This was  definitely the right decision. While still very clear, the arrow was much more subtle and didn’t dominate the sign.

After a couple of proofs, Helen was happy and I engraved the signs.

Frazer Reid from @farcabinetmakers sanding down the Green Lodge house signs

Posted by The Green Lodge Aviemore on Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Finishing the signs

Helen came round to pick up the signs after I’d engraved them. She took them to Frazer’s workshop where he gave them a light sand and varnished them to protect them from the elements.  She loved watching the process, and made the film above.

Both photos were taken by her after the signs were installed. She’s delighted with them and they really suit the property.

 

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In/out boards for St Leonards school

Posted Posted in Signage, Wood

Nicole’s husband is the Housemaster at Ollerenshaw House, one of the houses where boarding boys live at St Leonards school in St Andrews. It was completely refurbished last summer.

All three boarding houses have in/out boards where the pupils indicate their location. Nicole and Rupert didn’t want to put up the old in/out board in the the redecorated house as it was functional but not beautiful.  They wanted something special, a piece of furniture that would look the part. They also wanted door signs for the boys’ rooms and keyrings for each room too.

A mutual friend gave her Nicole my name, and she visited the workshop to discuss ideas.

In/out board specification

Nicole had clear ideas of how the two boards with up to 20 names each were to function.

She wanted small wood ‘clickers’, pieces with the boys’ names on them. These would slide along channels under  a header inscribed with the following locations: Home, Campus, Town, Trip and Golf. She also wanted a picture of Ollerenshaw House at the top of each board if possible.

I showed Nicole some engraved wooden signs that I’d engraved for Jupiter Artland and The National Library of Scotland. She also saw sample badges that I’d cut and engraved from 6mm oak for Cambo Estate weddings team. Their size was exactly what she was looking for, and she loved the oak finish. I also explained to Nicole the maximum sizes of board the laser can accommodate.

Working with a local furniture maker

Engraving the house artwork, header text and making the clickers was possible for me. Making the boards was not something I’m set up for however. So I gave Nicole FAR Cabinet Makers‘s contact details.  Frazer is a furniture maker near Crail. I’ve worked with him on several projects including signage for Cambo Estate.

Getting to work

Nicole liked our ideas and quotes, and was keen to get to work. She hoped to have the boards made as soon as possible. She send me a list of the boys’ names and year groups and I created proofs for the clickers and the header boards.

Frazer delivered one board and the two strips for location text and two waney edged pieces for the house artwork. It was really useful to have the board in pieces to work on and I could double check measurements and fit.

All the pieces were solid oak except for the backing board. It was oak veneered mdf which made it easier and cheaper to make.

I tweaked the clicker sizes so they’d sun smoothly in the grooves that Frazer had made, making them 65 x 30mm. He kindly planed my oak planks down from 7.5mm to 5mm thick. Just as well I’d checked or they would have been too thick!

Then I cut and engraved the clickers and location strips and treated the clickers with antique oil.

Installing the in/out boards

Frazer  sanded, finished and assembled both boards and installed them in Ollerenshaw House last week. They look great, and Rupert, Nicole and the boys are really pleased with them. They really are pieces of furniture and a joy to use.

 

I’m going to write a separate blog about how I engraved the Ollerenshaw House artwork, and about the keyrings and door signs.

For obvious reasons, I’ve blanked out the name in the top photo as I can’t show pictures where any names can be read.

 

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Laser engraving tiny text successfully

Posted Posted in How to, Wood

Maggie’s Fife is a much loved local charity that supplies practical support to cancer patients, helping sufferers with advice on everything from wigs to insurance, and how to explain things to families and friends.

Tu, their Centre Fundraising Manager got in touch. She wanted to create some baubles that people could sponsor as a Christmas fundraising campaign and wondered if we could create something together.

Bauble artwork

Tu wanted a bauble shape with the Maggie’s logo in the centre. She sent me a black and white pdf which was perfect for my needs. She also found artwork for a bauble shape she liked that was free to use and asked me to make the bauble shape 7cm in diameter.

After some feedback on an initial prototype, Tu sent a snowflake shape that she wanted dotted around to add more interest as the baubles looked a bit bare. To add variety, I suggested that I could vector engrave them. As vector engraving is more efficient than raster engraving, it would help to keep the cost down too. I added three snowflakes, resized and slightly rotated so they’d all look different.

Tu loved the proof, approved the quote and asked me to make an initial production run to get them started.

How to engrave tiny text

I knew that the biggest challenge with the baubles would be engraving the second line of text in the logo, ‘Everyone’s home for cancer care’.

When any artwork is miniaturised, whether logos or anything else, all details become smaller. It can be difficult to get good engraving resolution. In cases like this, I always do tests to ensure I’m happy with the results. If I’m not, I’ll offer solutions which can include enlarging or tweaking the problem details. Elements can be deleted altogether, or the whole product can be enlarged.

In this case, slowing the engraving speed significantly was enough to do the trick, along with selecting the right power so the text was clear, but not too heavy.

The E of ‘Everyone’ is just under 2mm high, and the smaller letters are just over 1mm high. They’re the smallest text I’ve engraved I think! It helped that the of the font was fairly bold to start with.

Tu wanted 50 baubles to start with, with the option to come back for more if they’re popular! If you’re interested in supporting the campaign, you can contact Maggie’s Fife.

 

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Upcycled chairs for ‘Money for Nothing’

Posted Posted in Furniture, Wood

Sarah Peterson restores furniture salvaged from skips with BBC1’s programme ‘Money for Nothing‘ programme. She has a furniture upcycling shop in Perth called Sarah’s Attic where she restores anything from chairs to retro cabinets. Her creativity also breathes new life into unwanted fabric that she converts into lampshades and cushions.

Money for Nothing

Last November, Sarah got in touch. Jay Blades from ‘Money for Nothing’ had rescued four 70s era cane dining chairs and commissioned her to refurbish them for the current series.

Only the frames of the chairs were respectable, so Sarah decided to  upholster the seats. She wanted to do something special with the backs though. Her idea was to have four identical plywood panels laser cut with a geometric pattern and asked if I could help.

Four sad chairs. They narrowly missed ending up in the skip!

Creating a design

I explained to Sarah that I need vector artwork files  for laser cutting. My tips for creating vector artwork are here.  As the chair backs would be identical, only one artwork file was necessary. It simply needed to outline each shape to be cut out, including the outer rectangle to show the panel outline. The laser follows the outline lines when cutting the shapes.

Sarah created a file with lots of geometric shapes and asked for a quote for four to be cut from 6mm plywood.

Upcycled chairs

I sent the laser cut chair backs to Sarah. She hadn’t been too sure what to expect, but when they arrived, she loved them and knew they would work with her design.

She decided to upholster the seats in a 1980’s style with blocks of colour provided by bright fabrics. Each chair was to be different, and the colours would work together so if viewed through a class table, the colours would flow from one chair to the next. Sarah screwed the plywood backs to the existing wooden frames to continue the graphic theme.

During filming the chairs. Sarah’s on the left and Jay’s in the middle.

As seen on TV!

It was very exciting to see the photos of the chairs that Sarah shared on Instagram last November when she’d finished them. Their transformation was incredible! They really had looked fit for the skip when Jay rescued them, and Sarah had worked wonders.

Sarah warned me that it would seem a very long wait until the show was aired. The great day was last Friday, 19th October, about eleven months after we’d worked together on the project. It was really exciting to see a project I’d helped with on the telly and the chairs looked even better than in the photos. And Sarah was a joy to work with.

You can see the episode featuring Sarah’s upcycled chairs here. Someone fell in love with them and bought them too!

 

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Oak awards for The&Partnership

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Guy Vickerstaff is the Creative Director at The&Partnership. He was planning a first birthday party for the agency in Edinburgh and wanted to hand out some creative awards.

His idea was to commission wooden coasters engraved with the details of each award. And they needed to be ready within two weeks. Could I help?

Oak glorious oak

I sent Guy some photos of oak coasters and signs I’d made previously.

Oak is a lovely material for things like this. Max McCance, a local furniture maker, rips up batons of oak for me into 6 – 7mm thick planks. They’re perfect for making coasters, small signs and badges from. Guy loved the idea.

Setting up the artwork

Guy designed the artwork for the awards himself. Then he sent the artwork in pdf format for seventeen coasters 105mm in diameter.

He created the lines of the pencil as single lines that were made to appear at a certain thickness. This produced the right effect when I viewed the files in CorelDraw. But when I exported them to my laser software, it could only see the hairline outlines that you can see below. This would have meant that the lines of the pencil would be much thinner than expected.

I have an easy solution to this problem. It was to save all the artwork inside the circle as a bmp. This meant that all the lines would be engraved at the right thickness. I kept the circle as a vector so I could use it to cut the coasters.

vector hairlines for engraving

Making the oak awards

Once I’d made the first coaster, I sent Guy a photo and he was delighted. The oak gave a nice deep engrave and the detail came up really beautifully with two coats of antique oil that protects the wood and brings out the grain.

I think these awards were a great idea. So many awards are things that have no inherent use, but these coasters will be used every day and remind the lucky winners how wonderful they are every time they use them.

 

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Other blogs you might find helpful about coasters include Mug mats for The Learning Cauldron, Personalised coaster wedding favoursPersonalised bespoke wedding gifts and Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame.