Whenever I see a papercraft project online that involves a lot of precise x-acto blade cutting, a part of my brain usually reserved for laying out SNES SimCity towns activates and taunts me, “Oooh, you could do this hour long cut in like one minute! You should totally make one of these!”
Thanks to the vector sleuthing work of those X-ACTO wielding warriors before me, setting up the cut and score lines was a much simpler task than if I had to figure the shape out myself. I spent much more time aligning two sides of the design to create an opening chest similar to “yetanothrs” neat Zelda project. When you open the card, the lid lifts up and the heart “rises up” out of the chest. It’s a subtle effect, but totally worth the extra time spent getting the alignment between the outside and the inside right.
With eighty weeks worth of projects behind us, it’s clear that a laser platform is a flexible tool with a ridiculous variety of uses. Sometimes, between the creative experiments and the meatier, more complicated solutions to problems, you just need a piece of wood cut. Well, why bother pulling out a saw and doing a bunch of measurement by hand when you can input exact measurements in a vector editing program and have the laser do the dirty work? It almost defeats the point of “measure twice, cut once.” Not quite “defeats”, because even in the digital world it’s always worthwhile to double check your design, but almost!
Jennifer has a vent in the break room at work that is very rarely used anymore, and after the room was recently repainted, the chunk of drywall that unceremoniously plugged the vestigial gap wasn’t good enough anymore. She wanted a nice piece of solid wood that would fit the gap exactly and prevent the building’s controlled atmosphere from leaking through the metal gate.
The piece was laid out as a 10.25″ square with very slightly rounded corners—measured to fit into the vent hole exactly. While the vent isn’t meant to be used anymore, there is still a small light switch that can turn on the fan inside, so I also opted to engrave a notice that it shouldn’t be turned on without first removing the wooden plank. It was a simple one-and-done, and the laser turned out a perfectly square piece of atmosphere saving wood in less than ten minutes.
We often do fairly complicated projects here on 52lasers, but we’ve had our fair share of easier pieces, too. This was, by far, the quickest problem solver we’ve created so far, though. It came at a good time, because we’re still catching up on things after vacation! Here’s to some meatier projects now that we’re back. Full steam ahead. 🙂
When they were first announced, I knew fairly quickly that I wouldn’t be attempting to collect amiibo figurines. Being a fairly stalwart Nintendo fan, though, I knew I’d be picking up a handful of the tiny Nintendo characters. I certainly didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to get a hand on some of them, though.
Neither did Josh, a local friend and fellow Nintendo fan, who recently discovered the fun of hunting down these NFC-capable toys. Soon enough he had over a dozen amiibo figures and needed a way to display them, so he designed a display stand that would fit neatly beside his Wii U and could hold the collection he’d amassed.
Since his design called for five flat layers of material, Josh knew it could be made well with laser cutting and got in touch! His design was already well thought out and his files required very little adjusting to prepare for laser cutting, so once we settled on a material—1/4″ red oak plywood—we started experimenting with ornamentation.
The prototype was a single-amiibo version that I could iterate a few times without a lot of design adjustment and material used up. The extra holes were meant to help determine the exact width of dowel rods that would be used to align the five layers of the final piece. The space for the amiibo was labeled with the name and Smash Bros. series logo matching that character. I even experimented with inlaid brushed gold aluminum on the logo, though you can see some damage to the surface from a sanding mishap—Jennifer thinks it looks cool even if it was a mistake! Because of the issues that popped up when we had to assign positions for each figure, Josh opted not to decorate the stand with names or logos. That way he can move characters around as his collection changes.
The final display stand was made from five layers, one for the base and four that held five amiibo figures each. With the dowel rods, keeping the layers aligned while clamping them down was much easier. Wood glue is not my favorite adhesive and without the rods’ help things might not have turned out quite as pretty. With everything glued, dried, and the final sanding around the dowel rods, all that was left was a thorough oiling and the platform was ready for characters!
Josh’s design proved itself immediately: we realized that many of the characters were in some ways larger than the circular bases they sat on, so I was relieved to see that enough space was given between each seat on the platform.
The project was a thorough success! Josh got his nice new amiibo display platform and I got to scan his figures into my copy of Hyrule Warriors!
I’m doing my best Martha Stewart impression with our 52 Lasers version of pumpkin decorating. We are definitely not the first to put laser to pumpkin; you can see Design Sponge’s amazing punched tin style pumpkin and Seattle Food Geek’s amazing in depth study on lasering a pumpkin for some awesome inspiration.
The set of limitations I had: I didn’t want to carve all the way through the pumpkin. Probably too many bad memories of mushy, half rotted hollowed out pumpkins, but I didn’t want to cut into them. So that also cut out lighting them.
We also don’t have the awesome rotary attachment (yet) that would allow us to engrave the pumpkin in the round, and I didn’t want to go searching for that one, perfect, flat sided pumpkin that would allow us to get a larger etching space. I decided to instead work mainly with the largest flat area on a pumpkin; the top.
I had a little trouble finding the wide squished looking pumpkins I wanted, so I settled on smaller pie pumpkins. They had a lovely color, lovely shape, and there was one that didn’t have a pesky stem at all!
For our our tester pumpkin I grabbed the tall one and decided to engrave a quick image on the flatter side (pretty much contradicting what I just said above!) – no sense of setting up something complicated if it didn’t work! It features a vintage “Hallow e’en” title taken from a turn of the century postcard and a skull and cross bones. We did two passes at 50% power, and then, since it went to well, did a third at 100% power. So much for caution. It resulted in a deep etch, and and it looked great…except for the unnerving tendency to weep. Yep, we made the pumpkins cry on our laser. My guess is that we got past the hard skin into the meat of the pumpkin that had more moisture.
I did cut a little black frame for the engraving to kind of dress it up the engraving, since the tester didn’t get a nice paint job, but the paper was too thick and wouldn’t stick well. So it doubles now as a jaunty hat or a lovely (tiny) paper doily underneath.
For the larger of the squat pumpkins, I made up a ring of text with “Boo!” and little images of bats, cats, etc. The ring was to decorate the top of the pumpkin, but to get the focal length right required a bit of delicate trimming with a hacksaw. I had to trim the dried stem, because it was too long and would have hit the laser head as it moved back and forth. A little indelicate, but it didn’t turn out badly.
Once everything was aligned correctly, we etched the top at 100% power, 80% speed. The engraving isn’t as deep, but it looked great under the laser. Admittedly a moment of panic set in when I scrubbed the engraved areas and the writing all but disappeared – but when it dried the text was visible again. I finished this one off by painting the bottom half green, and covered up my paint line with a black and green ribbon. A pretty swanky effect!
Amusingly, the pumpkin idea that inspired this whole post was the last one we cut. I was initially inspired by the lace covered pumpkins I’ve seen on Pinterest, and wanted to emulate that by laser engraving. To make it really pop, I prepped the pumpkin with (decidedly unHalloween-like) teal acrylic paint. The color was a) one I liked, b) only one of three I had, and c) probably inspired somewhere in the back of my head by a friend posting on Facebook about the Teal Pumpkin Project promoting an allergy safe trick-or-treating experience (thanks Erin!). I painted it first and then sealed it to give it gloss and to protect against the weeping the pumpkin does under the laser.
I used the pumpkin without a stem, as this gave us a greater canvas, and engraved the lovely lace pattern I found at Recoursos2D. (The file doesn’t really give original artist attribution, so if they took it from another source, please let me know!) We went for 100% power, 50% speed, and the laser cut right through the paint and sealer. This is a happy pumpkin; it did not shed a single pumpkin tear. Apparently we didn’t engrave deep enough. I didn’t scrub this one clean because I liked the gradual color change as the lace curved down, and I didn’t want to mess up the paint job. It turned out beautifully!
I think the experiment was a success! There were no adverse effects to the laser, the smell wasn’t awful, and the end product is something I’m excited to show off. Perhaps we’ll have the rotary attachment to try pumpkins in the round next year!