Laser Etched Deerskin Moccasin

People ask me what I make – and that can be tough to give a simple answer. This past summer (2013) I worked on a whole lot of different projects… the usual arduino/electronics, satellites, farming, and this one – a pair of moccasins. This project had a long gestation. I initially discovered Teri Edmonds store “If The Shoe Fits” several years ago, and noted that she also offers classes under the “Maui Shoe Academy” name.

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Teri’s store is both a retail and repair center, selling and fixing both men and women’s shoes. Her specialty is out-of-norm sizes, with nice slippahs (aka flip flops for mainlanders) in sizes to fit a badly underserved local community (size 13+). She has her own shoe design too – the Hot Bisket.

Teri teaches four basic classes three times a year… Accessories, Sandal-in-a-Day, Handbag and Moccasin. I wear LLBean Camp Moc almost exclusively, so the moccasin class caught my eye. The moccasins Teri has in her shop (and teaches) are calf high boots rather than quick slip-ons, however they look cool and I am always looking to learn new skills, so I decided to take the class.

Teri and I talked a number of times about Makers, shoe making, etc. but it took a few times to get me into her schedule for moccasin class. And then I had to leave town the 2nd weekend of the class (for a workshop on making satellites.) Fortunately Teri was very understanding and helpful, allowing me to come back a couple times to work in her store to finish the boots.

Usually the class makes moccasins from cow hide, however, I got very lucky and hooked up with a local Maui provider of brain-tanned deer skin. We have a LOT of deer here on Maui (and other islands). These Axis Deer (aka Chital) were introduced on Moloka’i in 1867, Lana’i in 1904 and Maui in 1959. They have no natural predators and have been very damaging to the native forests (along with other feral ungulates like wild pigs and goats)… so much so that parts of these islands have been defoliated. There are ongoing efforts to control the populations. The worst of these used aircraft carrying hunters to shoot them from the sky, leaving the carcasses to rot on the ground. The most common are the local and tourist deer hunters, which usually get turned into delicious venison for locals. The idea of normal family folks, gearing their kids up with gadgets like the best rated rangefinder and a camouflaged vest is a healthy, normal way to live with the situation. On top of it being natural and traditional, it teaches the young ones and the parent many lessons that otherwise, would be missed. The best I’ve seen so far is a new program on Moloka’i with a USDA approved/monitored venison production facility. Unfortunately, most of the hides from all of these sources go unused (often simply buried). It takes a fair bit of time/effort to make buckskin, but the results are quite nice. I’ve been in discussion with my provider to see if we can get some classes in brain tanning here – so we can develop this great local resource. (go read up on the Feral Ungulate issues at Maui Deer Culling).

Since the deer are rather small, I needed two hides to make my moccasins. One was natural colored, the other the rich brown that comes from smoking the hides. Teri suggested we use one hide for the back and the other for the front sides. This worked out quite well. The first day of the class we cut out the pieces from the hides and punched holes where they would be sewn. This took a LOT of time… more than the full day of work even. I had to borrow a hole punch and work on mine while on the road the following week.

Moc Class Day 1 a

When I got back to Maui, I upped the design ante on my moc’s by laser engraving designs into them. I used several designs from previous projects. The toes got a tribal face originally created with Rachel Deboer for body painting. The front got a gecko stencil created by David Fields and used for the SourceMaui CORE effigy at Burning Man 2013. On the back side I put the islands of Maui, with the Maui Makers logo on the heel.

Leather Etched

Once I got the parts prepared, the sewing started. Lots of sewing. Very glad we pre-punched the holes, as it would have been very tiring to push that needle through two layers for that many holes. First the front, back and tongue were sewn together, which gave us a good idea of how awesome these would look…
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Teri glued the insoles to the soles with her special paste…
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I sat out in the back yard and sewed for a good long while. The results, while still not finished were good enough to be worn out for a few events…
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The last step was adding the real sole. Teri, being a cobbler, had a good selection and chose some nice Vibram material.

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We cut the basic shape, glued it and then Teri used her talents and cool tools to finish the sole. Gotta love and respect a woman who owns and knows how to use tools like these!

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The final result was quite spectacular…
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MauiMaker Update Aug25 2011

Oops. Its been over a month since I posted here. Our makers have been busy, just not posting here. Most of the activity has been over on the GoogleGroup, with a smattering of updates to the Flickr Sites (Jerry’s, and MauiMaker) and Picasa albums. I signed up on Google Plus and its been a busy there too. I like it better than Facebook.

We’ve had a whole lotta busy meetings with a fair number of new faces showing off a number of good projects. Check the above links to see pics. There were a couple googlegroup posts about the meetings.

Our Aug 4th meeting turned into a cool show-your-hack night. Ben Ward brought down his rear projection multi-touch table. It uses a set of IR-LED/senors around the rim and a Windows machine. He has it setup with a DJ application which we all had fun playing with it. Ziz (who recently joined us) brought in a guitar to which he has wired an rgb LED. The color depends on which frets are touched by strings. Very cool hack! There is a video of it in my flickr set:

[slickr-flickr tag=”meeting080411″ descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” use_key=”y” ]

We held our first Laser Cutter Orientation Class for members. Brian Thomas, Chris Taylor, Kim Haueisen and Crystal Jean Baranyk attended. Pics from the class are on Flickr
[slickr-flickr tag=”LaserClass” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” use_key=”y” ]

My birthday was a week or so ago, and my wife gave me an Eggbot from Evil Mad Science. This is basically a pen plotter for small round(ish) objects like eggs. I built it during one of the maker meetings and got a few test prints done. I was able to do a few more later at home and then took it to a fundraiser for Jungle To Jungle. I was able to sell about a half dozen eggs for $2 each to raise money for the program.

[slickr-flickr tag=”Eggbot” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” use_key=”y” ]

Hopefully we will get posts here more regularly. Meanwhile, subscribe to our google group

Acrylic Chill Box Build

This past week saw a few major steps in the chill box. This post describes building the acrylic container holds the parts and the plantings..

Cole came over to my (Jerry) home on Friday to work on the container.  I had a couple long (8×2′) sheets of 1/4″ acrylic.  We picked one and then cut it in half with a jig saw. The cut was pretty rough but it allowed us to put the resulting panels into the open door of the laser cutter.  We cut them down to three 24″ x 9″ and some 9″ x 9″ panels. The long ones are for bottom and sides, small are for ends and dividers.

[slickr-flickr tag=”ChillBoxAcrylic” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” ]

To make assembly easier, we etched 1/4″ grooves around the edges of bottom and across side panels for the other panels to sit in.  This worked fairly well, except for some alignment errors that resulted in a ridge along the edge of bottom panel. Also the Corel Draw document used distinct overlapping lines. When etched, each line was rasterized and drawn in total – where they overlap was etched twice each pass, making a pocket.  Learning Experience!  Also, these wide grooves were rendered as rasters and when doing the short cross grooves, there was a LONG time spent moving between them…. Etch 1/4″, move 14″, etch 1/4, move 12, etch 1/4″… on each raster line.  To speed things up, I split the three cross pieces up into three separate jobs. The result was faster total time… although this may have contributed to creating the pockets.

Next we figured we need to etch some things into the side panels and cut some ventilation slats in the chiller area.  I spent some (too much) time updating the Maui Maker logo and placed it along with “Chill Box” text in the planter area.  I figured we would etch these into the inside for better effect so I mirrored the image horizontally so the text would be readable.  Then I mirrored vertically so I could etch in one pass. It wasnt until everything was complete that I realized the 2nd mirror had reversed the text again. When viewed from outside that one side’s text is backwards.. Learning Experience!

For the ventilation slats, we could have gone with a big hole or simple cutouts, but thats too easy and simple.  I opted to get artistic.  On one side I created a set of sine waves of different frequencies.  This took a fair bit of time as I learned how to make such lines in Corel Draw, offset them and then join the lines to make a cut out area.  Learning Experience!  To increase the open area, I added some circles.  Unfortunately I did not check the results closely.  When the waves were cut, a couple points were very close together, and effectively broke through where they shouldnt have.  Learning Experience!!

A Handful of Elementary Particles

For the other side, I thought, hmmm, Garrett’s E8 diagrams are pretty cool and would result in a lot of holes for wind to blow through (no reflection on his Theory of Everything). I popped over to the really cool E8 Elementary Particle Explorer site and came up with something half decent. I emailed the image to Garrett with background, just to get a sanity check.  He quickly returned my email with an even better diagram, specifically with axis, labels, etc removed.  I dropped this into the Corel Draw and ZAP! we had a mix of Agriculture and Theoretical Physics.. Fitting for our rather diverse maker group.

Laser settings for etching and cutting the 1/4″ acrylic:

  • Raster: 400dpi, Speed 20%, Power 100%; Required 2 passes to get good depth
  • Vector: Speed 5%, Power 100%, 5000Hz; Required 3 passes to completely cut

After all the etching and cutting was done, I setup my Festool table for assembling the box.  Actually, I had it setup after we cut the pieces and was checking fit, measurements, etc at stages all along.  The table is rather nice with large holes into which special clamps are inserted. These hold the work pieces securely in place.  I put a couple scrap pieces of wood between the clamps and acrylic so as to get a good straight edge and distribute the compression forces.  When all the pieces were cut, etched and test fitted, I squeezed a bead of Weld-on #16 acrylic cement into the grooves on bottom and side panels and assembled. (Note for next time – Have someone else around to help hold pieces in place.) The I put clamps on the top edges near or on the end/center panels, padding the metal clamps with some scrap cardboard. I left the whole thing dry in the clamps for 24hours. The end result was pretty nice looking – although there were a few places where the glue squeezed out and got some of the paper stuck. These can be touched up somewhat afterwards, but the larger one will leave a permanent blemish.

Completed Acrylic Chill Box in clamps

Lessons learned:

  • Acrylic stinks when etched/cut. We need a ventilator that scrubs the exhaust. Commercial ones are expensive but perhaps necessary. Perhaps we can make one using simple water tower-in-a-bucket?
  • Acrylic should be lasered with protective paper still on. Our piece had paper removed before we got it, but it scratched in handling. Also the vaporized acrylic can deposit on the non-etched surface. This can be cleaned using a soft scrub designed for light scratch removal.
  • Check cuts and etches using cardboard standins.
  • Always watch the cut – especially with cardboard. The burnt edges may have embers that continue to smolder, or burn outright.
  • Laser jobs always take longer than expected. Most of the work is in the setup, eg CAD work.
  • Laser rasters take a long time to run, plan the burn portions for efficiency, and have other productive work you can do while watching over the etch.
  • When assembling lots of pieces, more hands can be very helpful.

Lasers and Bots : Thurs Nov 18 2010

I’m going to host a Maui Makers meeting at my home on Thursday November 18, 2010 from 5:30-11pm. I’ll show the Epilog Laser cutter, Makerbot 3d Printer, and some of the other tools and toys I have here. Festivities will start in late PM (5:30) and continue until everyone (but me) leaves. I’ve got a grill if you want to cook something, or bring something pre-cooked. BYO drinks, art, projects, questions, answers, friends, etc.
Email me for directions. Jerry Isdale

Lilypad successes, Makers and Education, DARPA Program

LIlypad Embroidery, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bekathwia's photostream

This post is an amalgam of several news items I read recently.

First off an article on the LilyPad’s success in bringing women into electronics projects. From a post in BoingBoing:

“MIT’s Leah Buechley and Benjamin Mako Hill recently published a paper called LilyPad in the Wild: How Hardwareʼs Long Tail is Supporting New Engineering and Design Communities, about the success of the LilyPad microcontroller in attracting women to electronics projects. LilyPad is derived from the Arduino open processor, but was “specifically designed to be more useful than other microcontroller platforms (like normal Arduino) in the context of crafting practices like textiles or painting.” The Buechley/Hill paper shows that this was a successful strategy for engaging women makers and contemplates how to use the LilyPad approach to engage with women and girls in other science/technology/engingeering/math (STEM) domains”

Also read Mako Hill’s blog post “Feminism and Microcontrollers“.  Discussions around the net have ranged from positive, to some reactionary that this buys into the sterotypes and women should use electronics in their original form just like hard core hackers do.  Personally, I like the LilyPad and soft circuits. I think that Lilypad Embroidery by Becky Stern is awesome combination of arts. (Image: LIlypad Embroidery, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from bekathwia’s photostream).

Next up – Makers and Education

There was an NSF sponsored workshop on “Innovation, Education and the Maker Movement” on Monday following the NYC Maker Faire.  It was organized by Margaret Honey of the New York Hall of ScienceThomas Kalil of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dale Dougherty.  Tom gave the opening speech, which Dale published in his blog.  It gives a good summary of how Makers are changing the economy and education.  I havent seen any other output from the workshop yet. After meeting kids and educators this weekend at the Maui County Fair VEX Robotics Tournament I am even more excited about bringing a makerspace to our island.

DARPA MENTOR bringing fab labs to 1000 high schools

DARPA has a Draft BAA out for a program called MENTOR (Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach). This program “is part of the Adaptive Vehicle Make program portfolio and is aimed at engaging high school students in a series of collaborative distributed manufacturing and design experiments. The overarching objective of MENTOR is to develop and motivate a next generation cadre of system designers and manufacturing innovators, and to ensure that high school-age youths are exposed to the principles of modern prize-based design and foundry-style digital manufacturing.”  They are looking to deploy digital fabrication equipment (3d printers, cnc, etc) to 1000 high schools globally and encourage partnerships with small business, non-profits, etc.  It looks like they are going to be sponsoring various competitions “in the development of cyber-electro-mechanical systems of moderate complexity such as go carts, mobile robots, small unmanned aircraft, etc.”  I would LOVE to get Hawaii into this program!  Anyone interested in getting involved please contact me.


Completed Stairs with Laser Etch, Photo Etching

A long-in-process project here at home has been laser etching the stairs in my home.  I had new bamboo flooring put in, and that included the stairs to the loft.  The project took several months because I was commuting back and forth between Maui and So Cal.  Last visit I got all the panels etched and painted.  Yesterday the installer came out and completed the job.  It looks great!

Completed stairs with laser etched turtles

My dogs made it to Maui too.

The flooring is actually a composite product called Solid Bamboo Flooring from Wisteria Lane Flooring.  The bamboo fibers are woven and sealed with resin and 7 layers of finish.  The result is a hard durable floor that resists dings and scratches much better than regular bamboo floors. The snap-together pieces made installing very quick – except for cutting around odd corners, etc.

The turtle is a petroglyph commonly seen here on the island.  I imported an image and tweaked it a bit in photoshop/corel paint.  Then I used my Epilog Helix 24 40watt laser to burn the image into the panels using 40% speed and 100% power raster settings.  I ran the burn twice on each to increase the depth.  One thing I learned on this exercise was to be careful to remove all the ‘white’ areas.  Early tests had some slightly less white and this caused a light bit of the finish to be etched, giving a hazy or scuffed look.  The risers are about 38 inches wide, which made them too big to fit inside the 24″wx18″d workspace of the Helix.  The front door of the laser opens and there are two small magnetic safety switches inside. Putting magnets on these defeated the safety overides (with a bit of fiddling).  (insert disclaimer – dont do this at home).

Bottom and top steps have turtles on each end. Other steps alternate left/right.

After etching, I painted two coats of Minwax Ebony satin finish stain into the etched area to give it much darker look. I put a coat of Minwax polyurethane on top of that to seal it.  The excess stain and sealer that got on the non-etched surface simply wiped away when wet.  If it dried, a bit of mineral spirits on a cloth wiped it away.  There was some bleeding of the ebony stain into the surrounding bamboo by capillary action, but it was minimal.

When I started I thought I’d put the etchings on both sides, but then realized that might look a bit too busy.  So we compromised with putting two etchings on the top and bottom risers and alternating left and right for the intermediate steps.  I think the effect works quite well.  I am glad to have finally completed the job!

Other Laser Tests – Photo Etching

Photo etched on baltic birch. iPhone pic so not best quality image.

A while back I also tried doing some more tests with photographs.  We snapped a quick shot of my step-son and his girlfriend, who were visiting. Some photo manipulation to make it a simple gray scale image and then a light burn into 1/8″ baltic birch plywood.  The result was very satisfying!  Fine grained wood like baltic birch seems to be best for photos like this.  The bamboo was far too large grained, and pine was ver very uneven in density.

Playing with the Laser Cutter

I’ve been experimenting with the Epilog Helix 24 the last week or so.  I picked up several new types of wood, including some 1/8, 5mm and 1/4″ plywood.  My flooring vendor also gave me a whole bunch of samples/discards.  I also acquired a few narrow pieces of pine (?) when my wife ran a cheap cutting board through the dishwasher. It came apart in 3 or four pieces.  Oh well… more for me to play with!

I figured Thingiverse.com was a good place to pull some sample objects. I’ve used it before for Makerbot items.  It had a lot of items tagged with Laser keyword and I grabbed several…

I liked the Business card caliper by alikins (thingiverse thing=782) and picked up a couple packs of paper metalized paper to try it out. The result was not quite satisfactory, although I only did one test. The author did not include settings information and I found it cut more than it etched, and it didnt etch everything I thought it would. Still it was a cool first test. More experimentation is needed!

Thing 892: Laptop Stand with Hokusai Wave by langfordw

Then I tried the Laptop Stand with Hokusai Wave by langfordw (thing 892).  It looked pretty cool but is only available as an SVG file. Rendering on my laser requires using Corel Draw.  This meant importing it and trying to print.  I grabbed a 24×18″ sheet of 5mm plywood from Home Depot (cut from 2×4′ using laser) and used the wood-eigth-inch settings provided by Epilog.  Woops – nothing printed, and job finished REAL fast.  Looking at things, I realized the settings were vector only and importing into Corel treated everything as a raster, so I edited the file to make the cut lines ‘hairline’ width. I also stuck ‘MauiMakers.com’ on the base. Then I ran it as a combined setting.  This time it rastered out the wave lines and cut the edges – dead center of the 24×18″ board, lots of waste there.  It didnt go very dark on first pass, so I ran it again. The waves got darker but the lines still were not cutting all the way through.  I left if and went on to other things, but came back today with more success. I realized that 5mm is more than 1/8″, closer to 1/4″. So I started off with the wood-quarter-inch settings, and made it combined vs vector only. It worked !!  Only problem is it wont hold my mac book pro 17″.  The mac book has a curved underside, and it slides right over the ‘lip’.  I found a variant (thing:1391) that is bigger and works for 15″ macbook.  I might try this soon.

Laser cutting the rocket parts

Old School Space Rocket... 2.0 by syvwlch, with horses

Next up I tried Old School Space Rocket… 2.0 by syvwlch (thing 202). This is a cool object resembling the model airplanes I built as a kid, with ribs and spars made from balsa wood.  I selected a 12″ square of nice plywood from Woodcraft.  Again the original file is only available as SVG, so I had to tweak thinks to make them hairline. I also had some weird problems this time with only parts of the file actually firing the laser. Other parts moved the head as if to cut, but no lights!  I dont know why it did that, but I tried again the next day with a fresh bit of wood and reprinting. This time it worked! well, almost. The cuts didnt go all the way through (even running it 2x) in some places.  I decided to use a razor knife rather than burn more of the support shelf. The result looked pretty good as a sheet.  I popped out most pieces without a problem, but one small spar snapped in two at a spot that wasnt quite cut through. Drat.  Well after fumbling with wood glue,  I managed to get the whole thing together.  It looks pretty cool!!  Horses werent sure what I was doing and asked for more carrots.

Turtle on old jeans, after washing. Umm a bit to much?

I’ve got a whole bunch more from Thingiverse to try but it was time to get back to the Maui Makers Turtle… I had a couple different things to try etching.  First I had seen the laser do jeans, so I grabbed an old pair and Fired The Laser. It looked like it worked well, but when I washed the jeans the truth was there to see. I guess the power was up too high or whatever – maybe it works best on new denim? I’ll have to give that a try… when I’ve got some denim to test on…. new jeans are a bit too expensive to burn through.  Still the turtle looks pretty cool like this.  Its on the bottom of one pant leg.

Thinking I had success with the jeans (before washing).  I grabbed a t-shirt (I got lots of em) and fired off the laser. I had a harder time getting the

Turtle on T-Shirt didnt work so good either

material to lay down. At one point it stopped lasing and I realized the extra material was blocking the incoming laser — and burning up!!  Well a quick Stop button + rearrangement worked fine.  The result again looked pretty good as it came out of the laser.  However when I washed the shirt it was obvious the settings were very wrong.  I dont know if the t-shirt idea would work at all on other settings.  I got a whole lotta em to burn through so I might do more experimenting here.

Maui Maker turtle engraved on brazilian slate from Maui Stone

Next up I had some pieces of slate and other stone given to me by the former tenant of my house (before I bought it).  April owns/operates Maui Stone down in Kahalui and I had stopped in to say hi.  I happened to have one of my floor cut samples with me and she thought it looked very nice.  She gave me several different types and sizes of stone tiles to play with.  I first tried a really big tile of light colored stone.  After 4 passes, you could just barely see the image if the light was right.  Not enough.. So I switched to some polished brazilian slate.  The result was MUCH more satisfying, although I dont understa nd why the laser cut out and left some streaks. The URL doesnt show up well either, but its a good example.

Then I had heard/seen that a gray scale image could be used to raster different depths.  Ben Ward had sent me a copy of his new Maui Labs logo as a smallish raster.  I enlarged it a bit and test fired it on one of the bits of former cutting board.  I liked the results, except for the aliaising effects.  Need to try this again with better source material.

Maui Labs logo shows 3d effect of gray scale

The 3d effect was encouraging but I needed to get some calibration and examples of different depths.  So I made a sample file using a gradient fill in Corel Draw.  I etched the result in some fine grain floor samples (labeled Tiger) that Jim from Wisteria Lane had given me. I ran the etching in 3 places. Once using only a single pass, once with two passes, and once with three passes.  The results definitely show the gradient depths, although I think the deeper depths also show a lot more carbonizing and its hard to tell depths. The results are promising, so I’m going to start looking around for a good gray scale image and see how well I can etch a photo.

Gray scale One Pass

Two passes etching gray scales

Three passes etching

Laser up and running again!

The new HP desktop seems to be working fine, although it has to stop and think sometimes.  Amazing that with such great increases in computing and graphics power, the user experience is still pretty much what it was 20 years ago.

Yesterday I burned some more flooring samples. I had to recreate (again) the artwork, since previous versions are stuck on my dead laptop – or the two host machines I used back in California for earlier tests (if owners havent deleted em yet.) The turtle logo is pretty easy now as I have some good starting art and know the basics of converting bitmap to outline objects in Corel Draw.  I havent tried that EngraveLab yet. The manufacturer’s web site touts “Free 1 Hour training for ALL new customers”, but when you go to sign up, it says “not available in conjunction with promotional package pricing”. They did say on Monday they would send me a PIN to take the training, but have yet to send it. Grrr. Another learning cliff to scale.

Minwax stain pens in Red Mahogany and Ebony on bamboo flooring.

Anyway, as I was wandering thru Home Depot on an unrelated excursion, I passed the MinWax stain display and decided to pick up some things to test.  They have some pens that hold stain – expensive for amount, but ease of application may count here.  I bought an ebony and a red mahogany  used them on the earlier floor samples with url. They worked pretty well. The text was too small to get the pen into but running it across the surface got enough into the etched portion, and the rest wiped off very easily.  I think the black ebony stands out a bit better. Not sure about the red on bamboo.

Minwax stain and poly shades on bamboo.

I also picked up a couple small cans of the regular Minwax stain. I got a regular stain/sealer in ebony and a PolyShades in Red Mahogany. I picked up some small artist brushes – not much selection at Home Depot! These worked pretty well, although some still got on the top surface.  This time it didnt wipe off as easily, but a little mineral spirits on a cloth and it looks pretty clean.  The polyshades should dry with a satin finish. Alas it seems I got some dust in it from somewhere – probably hay dust, given the four bales of alfalfa sitting less than 10 feet away. I gotta build a real workshop – and a horse shelter.

Darker solid wood with logos and stain

Next up I scanned the Wisteria Lane logo from a brochure they gave me. Thats the place from which I purchased my bamboo floor. They gave me a bunch of samples of different types of wood. This time Corel was not so forgiving with its outline creation.  It came out ok but its got the jaggies – not pixel aliasing, but weird bumpy curves.  I burned it and the turtle into a sample of solid darker wood, and then used the red mahogany polyshade stain on it.  Both of them came out looking pretty good – however I would rather have line art for starting point with the logo, especially if we want to make it any bigger.

Boo Boo Zoo image on pine cutting board

Then I scanned some artwork from a flyer from the Boo Boo Zoo (aka East Maui Animal Rescue). It converted pretty well with Corel, except it had a lot of white islands making up details.  The laser uses gray scale to determine power/cutting depth.  Earlier experiments showed that sometimes ‘white’ is not the same as Dont Etch. So I spent a bit of time removing the white objects.  I burned the image into a piece of white pine we had lying around.  It used to be a cutting board until my wife put it through the dish washer.  Do not put wood things in dishwasher – i keep telling her. Now she has an example of why.  The result looks pretty good, even before I try to remove the scorch marks.

Turtle on pine cutting board pieces

Last up is a test with the turtle on some of that cutting board pine.  I had to use two pieces of the board as the turtle is about 5 inches tall.  The upper piece was cleaned with a wet cloth and still shows some scorch/resin stains.  Dennis took some light sand paper to the lower piece and it removed all the marks very nicely.

Thats about it for this round.  I only have another two days on island so I wont get around to finishing off the stairs this trip.  I need to figure out the alignment on those too.  The wood is already cut so I’d rather not make mistakes.  I also need to get some magnets so I can fool the door interlocks to operate the laser with larger pieces sticking out the front.

Lasers In Maui!

We now have a Laser Cutter/Etcher!!

delivery van

Laser gets delivered by Delivery People

Crated Epilog Laser in my garage

This afternoon (6/24/10) my Epilog Helix 24, 40 watt laser cutter finally arrived at my home in Haiku, HI (Maui).  The laser can do a variety of cutting and etching.  The manufacturer provides a good reference page that shows the types of materials that can be cut and/or etched.
The laser shipped a week ago from Golden Colorado, via Los Angeles, Honolulu and finally to Maui.

So far I’ve unboxed it (as you see in pictures) and realized I need the 4″ exhaust hoses to connect to the Harbor Freight ‘dust collector’ I brought over last week as my luggage. Its a noisy little beast but it will do for now.  I initially bought some basic vinyl dryer hose but the instructions say to use only metal hose.  Thats probably a good idea aside from the heat issues – the vinyl hose tends to collapse under the vacuum pulled by the dust collector.  The hose crushes into the fan inlet and stops sucking.

Here are some pics from the unboxing:

Unboxing the Epilog Laser

Paper Carton Removed

Air Assist Pump included, unboxed

Palette has ramps with hooks that fit in slots.

Ready To Roll off. Additional boards added at lip of garage.

Ready to roll, waiting on Dennis to assist.

Opened hood - etching software app included!

Next level - Goodies!!

Manuals, cables, pump, etc

Sample materials, catalogs, etc

Rotary attachment for round stuff (bottles, glasses, flashlights, etc)

Next layer - honeycomb cutting table

Bottom layer - z table to hold targets

Off the palette - time to set up

Laser Setup in Garage

Opened right side to look around, Z table mechanism with air inlet on upper right

Back side, air inlet in upper left, laser along top, exhaust at bottom center

Ben Ward came to help and play

My new island friend Ben Ward came over to help me set it up and play.  He brought the beer!

First Burn!! Logo in two sizes

Our first burn is the Maui Makers logo – turtle with URL. We did it in two sizes using Corel Draw.

I’ve got a lot of reading and testing to do. The stairs in my house are the first big project.  Meanwhile the flooring people asked if they could have some more samples for a Home Expo today down at the Maui War Memorial Gymnasium. And of course, The Wife arrives today so I gotta clean the house first. Laser will have to wait.  But it is here and we have burned stuff!!

Any Maui artists out there who would like to experiment with some new medium, drop me a line: jerry@mauiMakers.com  The primary software I have is Corel Draw, although they shipped me Engrave Lab.  We can start with any image – bitmap or line art – and then chose the target (wood, acrylic, metal) and try it.

Me and My Laser!!