Laser

Even though it has been almost two years since the large 6.3 earthquake in February 2011, we still the stray aftershock.  Last week we got a good shake of 4.62 that reminded anyone of the big ones not so long ago.  This gave me an idea for laser etching on shot glasses.  I started with a real seismic wave and added the text “Christchurch Aftershot.”  Good way to calm the nerves after a good shake?

Christchurch Aftershot

Christchurch Aftershot

With everything already setup, I tried testing out a few more designs.  The next test was a kiwi bird over text Christchurch New Zealand.  I think the kiwi bird’s body actually came out quite well.

Christchurch New Zealand

Christchurch New Zealand

Finally, I added a vine pattern that wrapped almost all the way around the glass. This too much more time but I think looks great.

Vines glass

Vines glass

Glass is a unique material with laser engraving.  As the process actually micro fractures the surface to produce a frosted look.  You can feel a very slight texture if you run your fingers over it.  But because the etching is part of the glass surface, it won’t dissolve in liquids like painted glass.

The past week been a busy one. I’ve tried my hand at making hardwood signs and engraving them with some choice quotes. After a good bit of searching, I found some nice Mahogany to test making signs. I started by adding a decorative edge with my router.  A bit of sanding and a nice light stain was then used to bring out the colours and grain in the wood.

Sign edge profile

Sign edge profile

 

Next was to add some varnish for protection and assist with cleanup of the smoke from engraving process. I tested on several different pieces with a range of colours.

 

Beware of dog... and cats

Beware of dog… and cats

The lighter colours seemed to work better.  The smoke would be blown back into the wood grain for a nice contrast on the background. Hard wood also provided a very nice medium for fine detail as seen in the leaves of the trees.

 

Tree engraving detail

Tree engraving detail

While darker wood or more pink tint looked wonderful stained, it didn’t provide enough contrast for to easily read the lettering.

 

Darker wood grains

Darker wood grains

I tried to experiment with white paint filling in lettering the lettering. This proved a bit more difficult to keep out of the surrounding wood grains.

 

Paint filled engraving

Paint filled engraving

Here are a few examples of the prototype signs. Half the fun is finding great quotes or messages for them.

old film roll

It’s no doubt that we live in a digital world.  The old days of buying rolls of film to later chemically developed have been replaced with compact flash storage and online photo galleries. Most of these things have be wonderful achievements for everyone. I still remember the days of being limited to 12-24 pictures per roll of film. The film also had to be the correct ISO for the expected light conditions for best results.

micro-sd-card

micro-sd-card

Today my digital camera can take over 1,600 pictures on a single CF card. I don’t need to worry if I bought the right type of film or wait for it to be developed.  However, if you are anything like me, you have vast collection of pictures taking up space on your hard drive.

But sometimes the digital world has unexpected negative impact on our lives. Because any physical pictures must be printed out, I find that less and less of them actually make it into frames. Ironically, I have thousands and thousands of digital pictures but hardly and physical copies of my work.

wooden-photo-framePhotography has changed over the years, but what about the frames? Improving the picture frame might just be what is needed to take the digital pictures and turn them into tangible goods. By making a unique frame, the pictures can become more than a image on paper. They can blend over and onto the frame making the entire object a unique item.

I have been toying with different ideas for unique frames with different themes. Here are a few examples that I’ve started.

Wet dog frame

Wet dog frame

Welcome baby frame

Welcome baby frame


Picture perfect frame

Picture perfect frame

 

What other ideas would you like to see? Post a comment and let me know.  If you would like of any of these frames personalised for yourself, please visit my shop.

Who doesn’t like candles?  Their warm light dances on the walls and over all objects in the room.  Okay, so maybe I’m not Shakespeare, but I do think he said it best about candles.  “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”   How fitting for a tiny little tea light candle as well.  Tea lights are a great way to keep the candle wax inside the aluminum cup and your surfaces safe.  However, they are not the best looking on their own.  Time to spruce them up a wee bit.

I started with a basic concept of a small box with legs.  Inside a spacer would keep the candle centered.

tealight design

tealight design

This design gave me the most surface space to engrave the words of wisdom.  I have a bit of affinity toward darker wood.  A few coats of stain and varnish provides a nice contrast to the engraving and colors of the flame.  I then cut each of the parts out and prepared them for assembly.

tealight cutout parts

tealight cutout parts

The bottom part has fingers that lock into the four sides holding everything together.  Keep in mind that these are all rather small.  The center hole for the tea light is 37mm in diameter.  Because the candles are already small, the font size had to be reduced to get the quote to fit on the front.  I’m afraid that the quote font size might a be a bit too small and difficult to read.

tealight front quote

tealight front quote

Regardless of the font size, I believe the box works well for the intended use.  I plan on making a few more of these for around the house.

tealight box finsihed

tealight box finished

This year, 2012, has seemed to drag by very slowly for me.  I thought it would be a great idea if the coming year could be cut up into small pieces.  Keeping with that spirit, I created a 2013 calendar that is a jigsaw puzzle.

2013 Jigsaw Calendar

The calendar was created using a Linux console command.   “cal 2013”  This gave me the text in monospace format.  I then took SVG designed jigsaw design and modified it to fit my needs.  The internal lines are lightly engraved to simulate different pieces.  You’ll have to click the full size image to see them as they are hard to see from the thumbnail.  The outside is then vector cut to produce a nice border.  The calendar text is then deep engraved into the 4mm ply to expose a darker lower layer.

I made two of calendars that were about 27x30cm on unfinished plywood.  Next time I think I’ll try a smaller version with dark stained wood.  With a light engraving, this should give a nice contrast.

 

To choose a good gift you need to personalize it to fit the person.  In this case, the person was very interested in Egyptian culture.  Building off of that idea, I set out to make something that looked Egyptian and could be useful.

After doing some research, I chose to do an Egyptian themed jewelry box.  I noticed a lot of styles that used dark colors with gold accent.  This led me to try a dark wood stain that is then engraved to reveal the lighter internal wood.   I used random hieroglyphics for the four sides.  On the top lid it has the eye of Horus since is watchful eye of the protector.  Under the eye I put the person’s name in hieroglyphics.

Egyptian Wooden Jewelry Box

Egyptian Wooden Jewelry Box

I used a new type of hinge that allowed for smooth rotation of the lid and added a spacer and red felt inside.

Egyptian Wooden Jewelry Box Inside

Egyptian Wooden Jewelry Box Inside

It’s not something that I think would sell because of the costs and time involved to produce.  But as a gift that wasn’t an issue.

Engraved Bamboo Spatulas

Engraved Bamboo Spatulas

Bamboo turns out to be a wonderful wood to work with on the laser.  I tested some bamboo spatulas with different ideas.  The only ones I could find had a wooden finger joint, seen in the picture as the dark stripes, in two places on the handle.  Bamboo also seems to be able to handle a good deal of engraving detail.

Engraving detail

Engraving detail

One of the biggest challenges of using a laser is learning how each material reacts.  Natural materials like wood and rocks are all different.  Even the same type material can have huge differences in density that can cause the same settings to come out differently.

I thought I would give thin natural wood cork a try.  While I think the engraving came out perfect, the cutting was a major disaster.  The cork burned and charred so badly that it made a mess to work with.  Although trying any less power and it wouldn’t cut through.  I think these would be great if I could find a way to cut them out without burring the edges.

cork coasters

Cork coasters laser engraved

Disclaimer, I’ve used the Aperture Science one a wee bit. 🙂

Making things can be a lot of fun.  Starting off with a vague idea of what you want and then being able to build and complete it is very rewarding.  I wanted to see if I could make a small piece of furniture for my home.  However, my laser cutter is only able to cut parts up to about 60cm in length.  So working with that in mind, I set off to build an end table.

I wanted to come up with something a little different and complex.  One idea came to mind was to use a construction site with support beams.

Table design

Table design

To enhance the contrast with the outside table, I went with a construction golden yellow color and black outside.  With a prototype design finished I cut the parts out of 3mm MDF.  This took much longer than I expected as each leg has 4 parts with numerous cuts required inside and joint tabs on the outside edges.

Table parts cutout

Table parts cutout

My plan was to cut, paint and then assemble the parts.  This was to save some on paint as there was a lot of surface area that I didn’t need painted.  However, it turned out that was much more work than I realized.  Note to self, paint then cut in future.

Finished table

Finished table

The final result was extremely strong and very light weight.  Perfect for those of us in Christchurch with all the aftershocks as it poses no danger if it falls over.  For protection I added a layer of varnish.  Although, next time I will use a stronger attachment for the legs.  Still, overall the table is very strong and is one of a kind.

There is just something special about a soft warm light that makes a room feel like home. Adding a lamp will work, but plain ordinary lamps don’t add as much to the atmosphere.

I set out to create a new design that would provide both warm soft light and a unique and interesting look. Using 3D software I created a unique design I called “The Wave Lamp.”

Wave Lamp Design

Wave lamp design

I then cut this design out of stained wood sheets. All parts are designed to interlock providing strength yet still very light-weight. This frame is then covered with a thin fire resistant paper. Inside is a low-wattage energy saving compact fluorescent bulb.

Wave Lamp off

Wave Lamp off

Wave Lamp On

Wave Lamp On

 

 

I think overall the project came out very well and has given me more ideas for different designs.

If you’d like your own, you can purchase them from my shop wave lamp.