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.

Personalised bespoke wedding gifts

Personalised bespoke wedding gifts

Posted Posted in Furniture, Wood

It can be so hard to think of personal, useful and beautiful wedding gifts. A customer had a flash of inspiration and wanted to know if I could help.

Bespoke piece of furniture

Jess bought a set of large, chunky, interlocking coasters from a furniture maker. They formed four arrow shapes fitting around a four pointed star in the middle. This set really was a piece of furniture. Together, the group measured around 520 x 520mm and the pieces were around 15mm thick. Not your average coasters.

Jess had clubbed together with four other family members to commission them. They each wrote a message of love and support that they wanted to have engraved on the pieces.

Setting up the artwork

Jess gave me a list of the messages and names to be engraved on the pieces. She gave me an idea of how large she wanted the text on each coaster and the three fonts she wanted too. Jess also sent a sketch of how she wanted all the text arranged on the pieces.

I arranged the text for the star in a 60 x 60mm box, and set up 180 x 80mm text boxes for the largest areas of the arrows measuring 260 x 130mm. Jess and I agreed that it would look best if I kept the text on each piece centrally justified, lined up with the left sides of the arrows furthest from the arrow points. All the text was kept to the same size.

 

Engraving the coasters

Once Jess was happy with the proofs, I engraved the coasters. I aligned each piece of artwork with each coaster section, and used a deep engrave to give best definition to the text for maximum impact.

Jess was really pleased with how the coasters turned out, and the messages made them extra special.

 

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

 

Other blogs you might find helpful about coasters include  Oak awards for The&PartnershipMug mats for The Learning Cauldron, Personalised coaster wedding favours and Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame.

Jo Black Design's menu boards

Jo Black Design’s menu boards

Posted Posted in Furniture, Wood

Jo Black Designs received a commission for oak menu boards from Illicit Still, a bar and restaurant in Aberdeen. Jo, a furniture maker based in Edinburgh, made the boards from oak. They were about 5mm thick and felt nice and chunky. Each one was unique because of their rich grain and knots patterns.

Illicit Still wanted their logo engraved onto each of the 50 boards and Jo asked if I could help.

Resizing the artwork

Jo supplied the customer’s artwork, a beautiful and intricate Celtic style logo, as a black and white vector file. When she brought the boards to my workshop, we set up the artwork to the size she wanted and decided where to locate them on the boards.

Vector files are perfect for resizing as image quality is not lost during the rescaling process as it is with pixel based images like jps and pngs. Unwanted pixellation can occur around the image and if this is engraved by the laser, product quality is reduced.

Dark and brooding menu boards

Next, I performed some test engraves to work out the best power and speed machine settings. They affect the depth and colour of engravings. Jo she wanted a deep, dark engrave to achieve the look her customer wanted, and the oak she supplied gave a very dark mark that suited the mysterious logo perfectly.

Once Jo was happy with the result, I engraved the rest of the boards. She then took all the boards back to her workshop to finish them before shipping them to her customer.

They look fantastic! An oak offcut that we used for the test engraving is on the workshop wall and it always gets lots of compliments from visitors.

 

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

Panda and Sons marquetry

Panda and Sons marquetry

Posted Posted in Furniture, Wood

Furniture maker Jamie Fraser fitted out Panda and Sons‘ cocktail bar in Edinburgh. He asked if I could help him with three parts of the project, the most challenging of which was creating two marquetry panda pictures for the wall behind the bar. They were a both to be a bit bigger than A4 size at 320 x 250mm.

As Panda and Sons was designed as a speakeasy with a barber shop frontage, one panda was a barber and the other a barman.

Making the artwork robust

First of all, Jamie emailed the artwork through. Most of it looked fine. The background, the pandas’ walnut bodies and ears and sycamore heads all looked chunky and robust. But some areas needed work because the detail was too great or joins were too small to make the pieces strong enough.

As a rule, I suggest to customers that any small pieces and joining sections should be at least 3mm wide on thicker, stronger materials. These marquetry pieces would be extremely fragile and would have to be easily identified and capable of being handled.

For example, the eyes had too many small detailed areas less than 1 x 1mm. I knew that they would become charred dots in the bottom of the machine that would be useless. Jamie beefed up the dots and join them up into stronger shapes so the sycamore pieces could be seen from a distance.

There was also too much detail in the scissors and the cocktail glass. They got the same treatment to make them chunkier and bolder, as did the borders of walnut around the cocktail glass and cuffs.

Finally, each shape needed one continuous line around the outside to cut it individually and cleanly. The ears had to be separate lines from the head which had to be separate from the body as the pieces would be cut out from different veneers.

Once the artwork was complete, we had to get our heads around handling the veneers themselves.

simplified artwork

Working with veneers

Wood veneers are very thin and prone to cracking, warping and splitting. It was challenging enough cutting lots of diamond shapes for the bar top, but marquetry would be even trickier because of the detail and irregular shapes involved.

Jamie had initially suggested sending veneers as they come in thin strips. Once I’d seen the artwork, I suggested gluing the veneers to thin pieces of mdf to make the pieces stronger. This would also keep them flat which would help during cutting, and prevent them warping and cracking.

As the pieces would be posted back to Jamie in Edinburgh, we knew that the delicate veneers not only had to withstand production, but two journeys in the post. Jamie agreed, and thought it would help him during assembly of the pictures too.

Laser cutting panda eyes

After Jamie’s laminated veneers arrived, I got to work. First, I cut out the picture backgrounds. This gave me the rectangular shapes of the pictures with panda shaped holes.

Next, I cut the bodies and buttons, ears, eyes and noses from the walnut. Just in case little pieces went missing, I cut extra eyes and buttons. I left the smallest sycamore pieces until last, fitting them into the pictures as they took shape. All the pieces fitted perfectly. The photo at the top was taken at this stage, before Jamie finished and varnished them.

I wrapped the pictures up securely to protect them in the post together with the spare pieces. Thankfully, they all survived the journey and Jamie was delighted with them. In the picture above, you can see bartender panda in all his varnished and framed glory.

 

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.

engraving a cask end clock

Engraving a cask end clock

Posted Posted in Artwork, Furniture, Recycled wood

Catherine from The Upcycled Timber Company makes beautiful things from old whisky barrels. She started to make clocks from cask ends and used fillets of wood at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 positions to indicate numbers. Catherine asked if I could help her experiment with laser engraving as an alternative.

Creating the artwork

First, I had to create the artwork for the numbers. Catherine was happy with a simple bold font to complement the rustic nature of cask ends, so we chose the Arial font. I laid out the numbers on a circle sized roughly to match cask end sizes.

clock artwork

Cask end challenges

Unless cask ends are brand new like the ones I engraved for Diageo, they’re not usually regular circles. Edges wear down over the years, making the faces near the edges curved, and they’re rough and blackened in places. Individuality is part of the appeal of old cask ends, but it means we have to be flexible with the artwork to make it right for each clock. In this case, we reduced the size of the artwork to make sure that the numbers were far enough away from the edges.

How to reduce engraving time

I programmed the laser to engrave all the numbers individually. It’s much faster to do this rather than engraving each number at the same time as the laser has to scan across the whole cask end with each pass of the laser head. This reduces production time per unit. That’s why you see all the numbers coloured differently in the artwork. The colours are engraved sequentially.

cask end clock

Each cask end is different

Catherine brought the cask end round to the workshop and stayed while I engraved it. She decided that she wanted the clock raster engraved with the pieces of wood vertically aligned.

There was a surprise on the back of the cask end – a piece of wood perpendicular to the cask end pieces. As it would be unstable in the machine without extra support, I stabilised it with pieces of wood so that it wouldn’t wobble.

Cask oak is usually very dense. I engraved at the highest power setting to get the deepest, darkest engrave possible. This oak was particularly dense, so we engraved the 3, 6, 9 and 12 again for extra definition. As the 9 was on a darker area of wood, it helped it stand out more.

Catherine was delighted with the results. After oiling it and fitting the mechanism, she sent it to its new home in the United States. It was ordered as a birthday gift for a whisky lover who fell in love with it immediately.