In/out boards for St Leonards school

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

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'

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.

Sarah Peterson chairs before
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!

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

oak awards for The&Partnership

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
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.

three oak award coasters

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

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.

Making badges for Cambo Estate

Cambo Estate wedding team badges

Posted Posted in Corporate, Wood

Cambo Estate were preparing to host their first wedding fair, Wedfest, in May this year. Emma got in touch and asked if I could make some badges for their events team.  They had thought about having lanyards, but really wanted something classy and gorgeous in oak.

Designing the badges

Emma said that they were looking for the names of the team members, but they’d love it if I could get the Cambo Estate logo on too.

I had a copy of the logo on file. It’s highly detailed and therefore tricky to replicate on a small scale. After a few experiments with the artwork, I had a plan. I suggested to Emma that the logo could go on the left and the first names on the right of the badges.

If the badges were 65 x 33mm high, I could make the logo the same size as they are on the Cambo keyrings I’d engraved a couple of years earlier. Although they were small, they came out clearly. All the names would be clear and easy to read at 10mm high.

Emma was delighted with the idea and told me what font she wanted for the names so they’d match the logo.

Cambo Estate wedding team badges

Optimising the machine settings

Reproducing such fine detail means balancing the speed and power used for the engravings very carefully. You can see that the finest detail is in the crest and ‘Country House & Estate’. I used a slow engraving speed to make the details as sharp as possible and give them depth for increased definition.

Once I had optimised the settings to my satisfaction, I cut and engraved a prototype badge from a piece of 5mm oak. I sent a photo to Emma and she loved it. You can see the prototype photo at the top of the blog.

After rounding the corners, she gave the go ahead to make them. A couple of coats of antique oil were applied to protect them and bring out the grain of the wood. Struan glued on the pins the badges were ready. They got lots of compliments at Wedfest! They’re like little pieces of wearable furniture.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.

 

Other blogs about brooches that you might find useful include Shetland Wool Week plywood brooches.

Stereo photograph exhibition boxes

Stereo photograph exhibition boxes

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

Rachel and Stephanie from BID St Andrews were involved in organising the St Andrews Photography Festival that’s on just now. They wanted ten custom made plywood  boxes to contain stereograph cards and viewers to see the 3D images.

Each box would have a different theme or feature work of different photographers. They would be positioned in different venues around the town.

A cardboard prototype

Stephanie sent me a sketch of a simple box with a side compartment. Although they were to be made from 5mm plywood, she asked if I could made a cardboard prototype. She wanted to check they’d got the dimensions right before going into production. A wise move!

I had some 5mm thick cardboard from leftover packaging and it did the trick perfectly. Stephanie realised that the box needed to be deeper to accommodate the viewer. The thickness of the front and back of the box meant that the interior depth was too short. Just as well we checked at this stage!

A plywood prototype

Rachel then asked if I could make one box from 5mm ply. While the dimensions were perfect this time, she decided that the height of the box divider should be lower than the box sides. This would make it easier to extract the stereograph cards.

Rachel also realised that the text of the logo on the lid was not correct.  There was an anomaly in the artwork when I’d imported it into my software and Rachel spotted the error.

I modified the artwork, and Rachel gave the go ahead for production.  Rachel assembled the boxes and added the stereograph cards, viewers and information about the contents to each one.

St Andrews Photography Festival
A stereo  exhibition box in use

Stereo box exhibition locations

On display at BlackHorn is the work of astronomer Charles Piazzi Smyth, documenting his expedition to the volcanic slopes of Teneriffe.

The Saint is home to the stereo box exhibition of Thomas Roger’s Views of St Andrews. He was one of the first professional photographers in the town.

Topping & Co are hosting the George Washington Wilson stereo box. He was one of the most famous stereo photographers.

 

Have you got a product you’d like to develop but aren’t sure how? Contact us or ask for a quote.