Personalising a Mr Cogsworth clock

Posted Posted in How to, Other

A customer asked if I could engrave a clock for his girlfriend’s birthday. He said it was made of wood and that there would be flat areas where I could engrave. It all sounded pretty straightforward, so when it arrived, he brought the clock round to the workshop.

A few surprises

Connor’s girfriend is Mr Cogsworth mad, so he’d bought her a Mr Cogsworth Dysney clock! When we had a closer look, it became clear that it wasn’t made of wood, but resin.

I know that I can get good engraving results with wood. I’ve engraved a resin items like sunglasses before, but this resin looked different.

The only way to see what results I’d get would be to test a spot.

Avoiding expensive mistakes

I asked Connor how much the clock was. It was much more than I’d expected! The last thing I wanted to do was engrave it, cause damage and have to pay for it. Connor understood by dilemma, but wasn’t quite ready to give up.

All I could suggest was to find a place where I could engrave a small, simple shape like a star where it would be hidden. If it worked, it could add to the message. If it failed, Connor wouldn’t hold me responsible.

A test engrave

We realised that the chamber for batteries and time adjustment was a flat panel held onto the back of the clock with magnets. This was perfect. It would be easy to remove and place flat in the machine for engraving. And I could engrave on the inside of the panel where it would be hidden.

I set up artwork for a small star and engraved it at the top of the panel. It worked! The star looked creamy in comparison with the orange background. There was a slight indentation too. Connor was delighted.

Engraving a message

We set up the text that Connor wanted. Then we had to decide where to engrave it!

There were two options.

  1. We could engrave the outside of the panel where it would be seen but wouldn’t be noticed so much at the back of the clock.
  2. We could engrave on the inside of the panel under the star I’d engraved.

Connor loved the second idea and thought it would be fun to give his girlfriend the battery separately. She’d have to put it in herself and then she’d see the message in a secret place.

Feeling very pleased with ourselves, I engraved the text below the star with a heart beneath. We were both so relieved that everything turned out well!

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

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

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

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.

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.

Personalised axes for Best Man gifts

Posted Posted in Leather, Other

Iain got married last Saturday. He presented his Best Men with high quality axes that he’d asked me to engrave for him. This is how we did it.

Engraving high quality axes

Iain knew he wanted axes, and he wanted them personalised for his friends. He searched for personalised axes, but he couldn’t find any of high quality, so he decided to buy the axes he wanted. He brought them to the workshop and we discussed how he wanted the engravings to look.

We had two options – to engrave the wooden handles, or the leather head covers. Iain decided he wanted the head covers engraved on the presentation side . There were logos on the wooden handle.

Axe head metal isn’t usually compatible with laser engraving as I’ve found from past experience, and the engravings would be more likely to be damaged during use.

I engraved a  leather cartridge belt recently. Iain had seen the pictures on social media and liked the effect.

Personalised text

After some thought, Iain decided to go with his best men’s initials and the date of the wedding. He wanted to keep things simple and bold, so we settled on the Arial font. There was a nice flat area on the leather covers for  30 x 30mm engravings.

We agreed that the engravings would look best orientated so the text of the engravings and axe branding all read on the same plane.

I created proofs for him to approve, making the initials 48 point and the dates 24 point to create neat 33 x 23mm rectangles that would fit the covers nicely.

Engraving the axes

I set up individually in the in the laser to get the engraving positioning just right.  Then I wedged some perspex blocks under the blades to lift the areas to be engraved so they were as flat as possible to keep the laser in focus. This was much easier to do withthe covers were in position on the axes to keep them steady.

Iain loved the results and picked the axes up a couple of days before the wedding.

 

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 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!

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

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

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.