how to engrave a bench

How to engrave a bench

Posted Posted in Furniture, How to, Wood

Have you ever wondered how to laser engrave a bench? Garry Macfarlane from Freckle Furniture did. He received two commissions for benches with engraved pieces simultaneously! He asked us if we could help.

The bench in the picture was commissioned as a retirement gift. Colleagues wanted the logo of the fisheries organisation where they all worked together on the back top beam of the bench. For the front seat rail under the seat, they chose a Gaelic inscription – ‘Mur a bheil e agad, na cuir air tìr e’. Garry and I still don’t know what it means, so let me know if you do!

Designing the bench

There was no way that we could put the complete bench into the laser machine. It was far too large! When Garry was designing the bench, we discussed what dimensions of wood would fit into the machine when we were ready to engrave. Garry built the bench himself from oak. Before he assembled it, he brought the pieces to be engraved to my workshop.

Setting up the artwork

Garry supplied the blue and white SFO logo from the customer and he wanted it resized to 132mm. I usually ask for black and white artwork, but there was enough contrast between the blue and white shapes for the laser to detect which areas were to be to engraved.

I set up the Gaelic inscription. Text is easy to create once the customer has chosen the font and the size for engraving. Garry wanted a reasonably plain but classic font with something a little different, so we chose the Nyala font.

Size constraints and getting around them

The back top beam measured 1480 x 124 x 38mm and the front seat rail 1480 x 76 x 38mm. The maximum width we can fit into the machine is 1330mm, but as our machine has letterbox slits at the front and back, we can set up pieces with sections protruding through the front and back of the machine. That’s what we did with the bench pieces.

Engraving the bench

As all the wood sections would be lined up vertically in the machine, I set up the text and logo for engraving vertically too. Garry wanted the text and logo to be located centrally on each piece of wood. We identified the horizontal and vertical centres and made a small pencil mark that could be rubbed or engraved off.

When I positioned the wood in the machine, I set up the laser so that it was lined up over the pencil marks. Text length was kept within 800mm, the height of the machine bed, so that it could be engraved at one go. The text was easy to align as it was engraved on a rectangular section of wood.

But Garry had designed the back top rail into a curve with a point in the middle. This made things more interesting! We made a similar pencil mark to identify where he wanted the centre of the logo to be. Then I set up the wood in the machine in a similar way.

We did a nice heavy engrave for a good 3D effect. Having Garry there to give feedback during production meant that I could check each detail with him as we went along. He was delighted with the results, and returned to his workshop to finish and assemble the two benches.

 

 

how to brand furniture

How to brand furniture

Posted Posted in Artwork, Furniture, How to, Wood

Colin Semple Furniture Design got in touch with LaserFlair because Colin was looking for a way to brand his furniture. There aren’t many ways for furniture makers to leave a lasting mark on their pieces, and Colin had an idea of how he wanted to do this.

Colin’s specification

Colin wanted to have his logo engraved on shapes of wood that he could mount strategically on a range of items. And he wanted something that would look beautiful! He knew that solid wood would give the right look, and decided on oak which always engraves well. To make it easy to use them, he required regularly shaped pieces that would be easy to insert into holes for a flush fit. A 50mm diameter disc 6mm thick was settled on as a good size that would keep each piece robust and the logo readable.

Detailed logo

The greatest challenge that this project presented to LaserFlair was getting the engraving right.

Colin’s logo is very detailed and in colour. Laser engraving works best with black and white (no greyscale) where the laser either engraves or doesn’t engrave. So to keep the detail while losing the colour, Colin wanted the C and S of his initials fill in engraved. The rest of his name engraved in outline so it appeared white inside. The tree trunk and canopy required similar treatment.

To achieve this, the logo had to be converted into a vector format made up of lines rather than pixels. This meant that individual elements could be picked out to be engraved in different ways. This stage was far more time consuming than the production phase, but it only needed to be done once.

Once Colin was happy with the prototypes, we made the first batch of discs. He sent me this picture of one that he had cleverly concealed in the side of a drawer.

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.

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.

outdoor wooden library

Outdoor wooden library

Posted Posted in Corporate, Furniture, Wood

Glenmore Lodge National Outdoor Training Centre near Aviemore had designed and were creating a new garden for their facilities. It was felt that a training centre would benefit from having an outdoor space to encourage personal reflection.

They approached LaserFlair with the idea of creating a wooden ‘library’ consisting of oak ‘books’ to create a focal point. To add an element of fun, they wanted titles relevent to outdoor activities engraved on their spines. My favourite was Classic Rock.

How to make an outdoor wooden library

Glenmore Lodge provided a list of the titles they wanted engraved on the oak books. They cut the wood into blocks of different shapes and sizes to simulate a shelf of assorted books. Each book was shaped to give the impression of a spine along one side

LaserFlair advised on fonts and layout to get the look and depth of engrave for the right look. We chose a bold font for the text to make it easy to read from a distance, and made the text as large as possible to fit the width of the books’ spines. We decided on a deep engrave for a lasting appearance and texture as the books were designed to be touched and weather with the garden.

Laser engraving the books

Each block of oak was positioned in the machine so that the ‘spine’ was uppermost. We do this because the laser head is aligned vertically and engraves the horizontal surface below. We lowered the machine bed by 15-20cm so that each ‘book’ could be positioned at the correct focal distance from the lens. Maintaining focus is important to achieve good engraving quality. Finally, we raster engraved to create a pleasing 3D effect, and performed two passes to give extra depth to the letters.

Glenmore Lodge love their new garden feature. It gives a sense of intrigue and intimacy.