Surfing Championship medals and trophies

Surfing Championship medals and trophies

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

The Scottish National Surfing Championships were held over the Easter weekend in Thurso. Frazer Reid of FAR Cabinet Makers, a keen surfer himself, was commissioned to make the medals and trophies for the event. He commissioned me to engrave the competition logo on oak for the prizes.

Trophies and medals

Frazer wanted 24 items made. There were to be trophies for the winners of each  of the eight categories and each was to feature a 150mm oak disc. Second and third places would receive 90mm oak medals. All 24 pieces would feature the competition logo.

Frazer prepared 5mm thick oak pieces for me to make everything from.

Celtic design

The only way to create artwork was from the event posters! Frazer emailed me a copy. Thankfully it was of high enough quality that I was able to convert the image to black and white. Unfortunately, the areas that I wanted to engrave were white and I needed them to be black. So I inverted the image so that the detail to be engraved became black.

Once the artwork was ready, my next worry was reproducing the logo detail. The surfer and his board were the most detailed areas. I decided to make a prototype of the 90mm medals. If the detail engraved well at that scale, it would be fine for the trophies.

I decided to engrave the medals at half speed to get the fine details as sharp as possible. It worked!

Frazer also wanted 1st, 2nd and 3rd engraved on each piece. Gill sans font suited the artwork and the text looked good under the crest of the wave. Frazer was really pleased with the results and gave the go ahead.

Turning them into medals

Frazer gave all the pieces a sand and treated them. He mounted the large discs on trophy bases and drilled holes for jute string. They looked amazing!

 

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How to make giant protractors

How to make giant protractors

Posted Posted in How to, Other

A customer from distillery cooperage contacted me. They needed to replace their giant protractor that they use for barrel making. Their old protractor had had a hard life and was getting very damaged as you can see below. It was becoming inaccurate and unreliable, so it was time for some new ones.

old distillery protractor
Old distillery protractor

Maximum protractor diameter

Two protractors were required at 1000mm diameter. My laser is bed is 1200 x 800mm which meant that the maximum diameter of protractor I could make was 800mm. The cooperage was was happy for me to make them at that size.

Robust materials

The coopers wanted something not too thick and heavy, but robust and shatterproof. It was also important that the degree markings and numbers should be easy to read.

My main suggestions for materials were plywood, mdf and perspex. Plywood is heavier at the same thickness of the other two materials. It’s more expensive and can shatter if dropped. Engravings on perspex are always white in colour and not as clear as engravings on ply and mdf. So we ruled perspex out for those reasons.

Next, I made sample engravings on ply and mdf and sent them for evaluation. As birch ply is lighter in colour than mdf board, it was the option of choice as the engravings were clearer on the blond wood.

To make the protractors as robust as possible whilst keeping them light and easy to use, the coopers asked for 4mm ply rather than 3mm.

Making the engravings stand out more

Artwork for the protractors was right first time. All the cut lines and the degree lines and numbers were a single line thick, and the laser vector engraved all of these, giving thin but clear marks. But the coopers asked if I could make the lines bolder.

I have a cunning way to do this. When the machine is properly focused on the surface of the material, the beam is as small as possible to give a clean cut or accurate engrave.

If the beam is defocused, the beam becomes wider and therefore engraves a wider vector engraved line. I made another sample to demonstrate this and the coopers gave the go ahead to make the protractors using that fix.

Laser cutting and engraving the giant protractors

I did this in two steps. First, I defocused the laser and engraved all the degree markings and numbers. Then I refocused the machine and performed the cutting as shown in the video above.  I did it that way round to ensure the plywood stayed as flat as possible throughout production. It’s easier to do this if the material stays as one integral sheet.

The ply for the second protractor that you see being cut in the video above was more inclined to warp, so I had to hold it flat by weighing it down with slates.

My customers were really pleased with their new protractors. I think they’re rather beautiful!

 

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

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.

personalising a leather cartidge belt

Personalising a leather cartridge belt

Posted Posted in Leather, Other

Customers often ask if I can personalise special gifts. I’ve engraved wallets, wooden boxes and even axes for best men and ushers!

Vicky asked me if I could engrave a leather cartridge belt for her son’s landmark birthday. Leather engraves well, and the appearance of engravings depends on the colour, type and finish of the leather.

This belt was very high quality and if I made a mistake, I knew I’d have to buy a new one!

Creating the vector artwork

Vicky wanted her son’s initials engraved on the belt. I typed them into my software and chose a font that she liked. I suggested choosing a finer font as the engraved areas of leather don’t look particularly attractive. They’re best minimised for best effect.

Personalising the belt

Vicky wanted the engraving to sit to the right of the buckle when fastened. I measured the space between the right hand edge of the buckle when fastened on the tightest hole and the nearest edge of the cartridge holders. Then I created a rectangle to represent that area of the belt, centred the artwork at the size Vicky wanted in it so they’d be engraved in the right place. We were ready to engrave!

laser engraved cartridge belt

What does engraved leather look like?

Engraving leather is like engraving card of different colours. Dye colour and depth of shade, and the depth to which artwork is engraved all contribute to the appearance of the engraving. It’s usually darker than the shade of the material and browner too as engraving is a burning process.

I had some engraved dark brown leather samples to show Vicky. She was keen to have an engraving that would stand out well and possibly be recessed into the leather.

After setting up the belt in the machine and checking it was the right way up so the cartridges wouldn’t fall out, I engraved the belt using my usual raster engraving settings for leather. The first pass was so clear and Vicky was so pleased that she didn’t feel the need to have the engraving any deeper.

 

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

personalised coaster wedding favours

Personalised coaster wedding favours

Posted Posted in Other, Wood

Personalised favours are becoming more popular for weddings. Regular enquiries come from couples for individual touches that will remind guests of their special day. Usually wedding favours are requested with occasional wedding logs and stationary embellishments.

Rustic coasters

Rachel’s son and his fiancee wanted rustic coasters engraved with details of their wedding to give to their guests as favours. Everyone uses coasters, and they can bring back happy memories every time they catch the eye.

Gill and Ali wanted to use slices of tree branches. They asked local company Thomson Timber to make them, and they very kindly recommended my engraving services.

Designing the artwork

Rachel popped round to the workshop with the coasters when they were ready. Most of them were around 85mm in diameter, and they were all different shapes as branches aren’t perfect circles in cross section as you can see in the photo below. Jim had finished them beautifully on their presentation sides, but made sure all the coasters still retained the rustic look that Gill and Ali wanted.

Rachel had a note of the text to be engraved. Each coaster was to be the same with the wedding venue, the couple’s names, and the date of their wedding.

I laid the three lines out, and we chose a font that Rachel was happy with, making Gill and Ali’s names the focal point. We chose a size for the artwork so it would still fit on the smaller coasters without looking squashed. Then I engraved a sample so Rachel could see how they’d look.

branch slices ready for engraving
branch slices ready for engraving

Engraving wedding favours

As the text was quite small and fine, I suggested engraving at a slower speed to keep the engravings crisp. This had the added advantage of giving the engravings more depth which helps fine detail to stand out more. Rachel was delighted with the results, and I engraved the rest of the 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 Oak Awards for The&PartnershipMug mats for The Learning Cauldron,  How do the edges of laser cut wood look, Personalised bespoke wedding gifts and Branded coasters for Welsh Oak Frame.

Cutting foam inserts for gift boxes

Cutting foam inserts for gift boxes

Posted Posted in Corporate, Other

Tom and Karen Couper have just opened their beautiful new shop, The Wee Couper of Fife,  in Anstruther where they sell boxed miniature sets.

Bespoke inserts for a range of products

Tom and Karen wanted to make up their own unique gift sets. They sourced boxes with foam inserts, but these inserts just came as a whole square. The Coupers needed to have shapes cut out of the inserts to match the 14 individual gift sets they planned to start with. Holes were required for bottles, hipflasks, golf balls and jams. And they needed to be snug so that the products would fit in the boxes securely.

The Wee Couper of Fife's Grant's, Hendricks and Grey Goose gift set
The Wee Couper of Fife’s Grant’s, Hendricks and Grey Goose gift set

Can you laser cut foam?

Tom and Karen came to the workshop to show me what they wanted to see if I could help.

Tom had mocked up a gift box to show me how he wanted them to look by cutting one foam square with a knife. It looked smart! But the question was, could I laser cut the foam for them? I’d asked Tom to check if the foam contained any PVC or teflon as they evolve acid gases during cutting, but his supplier confirmed that they didn’t and that they were suitable for laser cutting.

I had only cut closed cell foam prior to this. It cut well and the facing side looked good. But on the back, in areas where the machine slowed down to change direction, the foam melted a bit, creating pits. I tested the sample that the Coupers had brought and found settings that worked. Again, the facing side looked great, but areas on the back where angles had been cut, there were small melted pits. Tom and Karen didn’t mind as they wouldn’t be seen.

Creating artwork for the 14 foam insert styles

Now we knew I could help, the next stage was to create artwork. Fourteen files were needed, one for each set. I’m not a graphic designer, but I work with a few, and one of them is CatMac Design. Catriona created the artwork in vector format, sent it to me to check, and we were ready to go.

Grand opening!

Two weeks ago, Tom brought round the first box of foam to the workshop to cut.

On Friday 15th June, Tom and Karen proudly opened their new shop. Here’s a picture of Tom looking splendid in his uniform kilt with one of the box sets. I love the little half keg display units on the wall behind him, each containing a different gift set.

Wee Couper opening

 

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