These are lamp bookends I made for my baby's room. The were made with a lasercutter, 3d printer, and a disc sander. I will show you the process and hopefully you can learn from some of my mistakes.
Step 1: The Design Process
I made the outlines for the cuts in illustrator. A tip here would be to set the art board size to the size of the wood that you are working with. Also, when you are putting in the text make sure to convert the text to outlines. My design called for 3 basic cuts: The front with the letter cut out, the insides to create the cavity for the fixture and the back. I ended up with 3 files with these names. When setting up the files for the laser cutter, I exported to a .dxf file directly from illustrator.
Step 2: 3d Design
The inserts for the letters were designed in Rhinoceros. I imported the file from illustrator to make sure the letters were the exact same size as the cut out in the wood. I added a backing to the letter so it would hold it in, and the front surface of the letter would be flush with the surface of the wood.
Step 3: Laser Cutting
The laser cutting software required a .dxf file for import. The material I used was 1/4 inch birch plywood. One thing I had trouble with was, you have to make sure the color of the line to be cut is the same color as the thumbnail in the cut window. The settings for this 40 watt laser cutter were speed 3 and power 100 for this material.
Step 4: 3d Printing
I exported the files for the letters from Rhinoceros as .stl files. Then imported them into the makerbot software. The printer was a Makerbot Replicator 2X. I used glow in the dark ABS filament.
Step 5: Check the Fit.
The print should be exactly the same size as the cut out in the wood. There should only be the space from the thickness of the laser cut. I ended up having to slice off the corner with a razor blade to make sure it would clear the inside pieces.
Step 6: Glue the Pieces Together
I used wood glue and quick clams to glue all the layers together.
Step 7: Sanding
I used a shop size disc sander to get all the pieces smooth and uniform.
Step 8: Wiring
I bought some lamp cords and fixtures from ACE. I put an inline lamp switch. The 2 book ends are both controlled by the same switch. After doing some testing these incandescent bulbs are going to be too hot, so I will be replacing them with some LED bulbs that will fit the same candelabra fixtures. The fixtures were glued down with a hotglue gun.
Step 9: Finished Product
Good luck with the build, hope this helps!