Tag Archives: salvaged wood

81: The Simple Stuff

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!

The gap, center top, lets plenty of precious conditioned air leak out of the building.
The gap, center top, lets plenty of precious conditioned air leak out of the building.

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.

The final vent cover. How simple can you get?
The final vent cover. How simple can you get?

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. 🙂

 

43: Starman Coasters

A close-up of one coaster. Look at that texture!
A close-up of one coaster. Look at that texture!

Not the Starman you were expecting, was he? These coasters feature the Starman, an emblem from Rush’s  album 2112, as opposed to the Starman, an enemy from APE’s game Earthbound.

The original cork engraved well but cut poorly.
The original cork engraved well but cut poorly.

This project was originally intended to be cut out of a sheet of 1/4″ cork that I’ve had lying around for quite some time, but when I was preparing the job, I had much less time for iteration than I wanted. I only gave the cork about three attempts before I moved over to salvaged wood.

Too much power while engraving means cooked cork.
Too much power while engraving means cooked cork.

Cork engraves beautifully with very little power. My initial engraving was so overpowered that the burnt cork impacted the fidelity of the art, but lighter power settings engrave so well that I might be able to get two or three shades of art without having to rely on halftones. I expect to experiment with that in the future.

Did I mention this is some dirty, sooty stuff?
Did I mention this is some dirty, sooty stuff?

Unfortunately, laser cutting the cork is much less useful. At the quarter inch thickness I went with, the power required to cut clean through burned the cork too much. Unfortunately, some of the outer shape broke off easily despite the material’s thickness—cork isn’t all that sturdy!

Starman Coasters (2 of 7)The design engraved and cut into the same salvaged wood that I use for the Beer Goes Here coasters on Etsy. I normally use one standard power pass when engraving the wood I salvage, but for this project I did two engraving passes of a lower power to try to let the grain texture come through better. It seems like a success, though the contrast of the wood grain almost makes it hard to see the Starman.

These were a housewarming gift for my nephew Kevin, who recently moved into his own place in Chicago. Now they can accompany the Rush sign he and I made at least 52 weeks ago: it’s mounted on a wall somewhere in his new place, too!

Another close-up angle. Down with collectivism!
Another close-up angle. Down with collectivism!

 

07: Floss Organizers / Thread Holders

No, not the kind of floss for your teeth. Which, before I started working with Rebecca of Hugs are Fun, I would have wondered myself. Floss is the term for embroidery thread, used for embroidery and cross stitching. Collecting floss can be quite the passion for needle workers, and organizing it is always a challenge, especially mid-project!

Nice and neatly organized floss is so pleasing!
Nice and neatly organized floss is so pleasing!

It’s been almost a year since I met Rebecca, and we started developing the cross stitch kits (available in her shop, or my supply shop Beadeux.) I didn’t want to just tuck the thread into the kits, potentially to end up in a knotty mess.  I came up with a quick holder, inspired by the triangle designs on the kit packaging.  They were made out of 100lb card stock to be nice and sturdy, but being paper, they weren’t meant to last forever.  I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised then they started gaining attention in their own right!

The original floss holders were quite small, less than two inches wide and less than an inch tall.   I wanted to make some full sized versions – 3 different designs.  In usual fashion, that blossomed to 5 (well, 4.5).  I wanted to use up some stock, so they are made out of odds and ends in acrylic and wood – including some fantastic leftover painted wood.  I have to admit, I really like the “dipped” look!

This set was made from opal acrylic, a milky, semi-translucent white
This set was made from opal acrylic, a milky, semi-translucent white
This group of floss organizers was made with scrap wood, including some painted wood from an old project I did.  The hard to see one is blue acrylic.

This group of floss organizers was made with scrap wood, including some painted wood from an old project I did. The hard to see one is blue acrylic.
They tied nicely to the fiddly corners in the lotus
They tied nicely to the fiddly corners in the lotus

If you know my Isette work, you can see some familiar motifs.  The lotus is the exact same one used in my jewelry – just 3 inches tall!  I wanted to see how the not-round or not-straight edges would work for floss tying.  The verdict is it works just fine!

The original peacock design, back in 2088.  Space age, or a cheese grater? You decide.
The original peacock design, back in 2008. Space age, or a cheese grater? You decide.

The peacock makes me smile – it’s a cleaned up version of a bubbly peacock I cut in my first batch of laser designs back in 2008.  I only ever made a single pair of earrings with the original design (though I still make a second variation the Peacock.) I simplified the design, made the feather bumps mathematically even and enlarged the outer hole.  The two hole design allows for some interesting tying between the holes, like you can see in the picture.

Peacock floss organizer made from salvaged wood.  I love the bubble design!
Peacock floss organizer made from salvaged wood. I love the bubble design!
This is the larger design, hanging quite nicely of the little metal hooks.  It would work on pegboard too!
This is the larger design, hanging quite nicely of the little metal hooks. It would work on pegboard too!

The final two designs are really the same thing, based to the Swoop design, just made two different sizes.  The small version is 2 inches wide (so 4 inches of floss tying space), and the large one is 3 inches wide for bigger projects or more floss.  The concept here was to organize in two tiers instead of tying things into individual holes.  I personally like seeing how the floss colors play together smushed right next to each other.  It also has quite a large handle on the end, all the better for hanging!  Great for peg boards, or hanging off work lights. (And, of course, any free space around the edges is fair game for tying on as well!)

I absolutely love how they turned out, in both wood and opal colored acrylic, and look forward to listing them in Beadeux soon! (When they are up, you can find them in the Floss Organizer section.)

Photos I love but couldn’t figure out how to seamlessly stick them in the post:

I love the milky white look, but Opal Acrylic is TERRIBLE to photograph
I love the look, but semi-translucent-not-quite-white Opal Acrylic is TERRIBLE to photograph
It's like a rainbow rocket!
It’s like a rainbow rocket!
Jumble of floss organizers.  Or floss holders.  Or thread organizer holder.  I don't think people have settled on one name!
Jumble of floss organizers. Or floss holders. Or thread organizer holders. I don’t think people have settled on one name!

01: Christian Baldwin

Picture of TOOTIE name in wood
Anthony’s nickname in wood

I cut my laser teeth on baby names. For my great nephew Anthony, the word TOOTIE was carved out of some oak ply. A large stroke of unetched material held the letters together, and the resulting block of text is sturdy enough to stand on its own.

Ella Lyn Baldwin's name in wood
It looks a little like a train, right?

The second nameplate was for Ella Lyn Baldwin, a great niece. Her entire name was to be used, so I chose some lean type. The etch was reversed, leaving the long letters standing atop their shadowy stroke. Some feet were added so that the piece could stand on its own despite the middle name descender. The result reminds me of a locomotive. Ella Lyn’s nameplate was mounted on the wall above her door, but her new brother Christian’s door was sadly unadorned. So for the first week of 2014, I set out to fix that.

His name, set in Buckingham, was wrapped in some sourced Celtic knot corners and carved into a  narrow plank of salvaged wood. The wood is unique in its batch because it’s already been finished, and a light cleaning with a multi-surface cleaner brought an amazing shine to the letters, especially compared to the etched surface.

Such high tech tools!The prototype stopped there, but I wanted to experiment with some wax metallic finishing paste that we’ve had lying around for a while. I coated the unetched surface in black marker first, and then wore that away slightly with some isopropyl to leave a faint purple hue. It’s very difficult to see in the pictures.

Apply sparingly with finger or soft cloth.

Naturally, this particular instruction on the paste tube wasn’t followed. Despite my best intentions, a great many gobs were left on my cloth and I still haven’t been able to get all of the grey off of my fingers. The result looks great, though!

I really enjoyed how the marker only partially wore away with isopropyl; it’s hard to see in the images, but the letter surface has a cloudy texture to its sheen.  I’ll certainly be playing with this material and the Rub ‘n Buff a bit more.

Christian Baldwin Nameplates
A close-up showing the shine from the wood’s finish