If you've seen my first Instructable, you know my laser cutter saga.  It's like a love story, really.  Boy is thrown into teaching an unruly class.  Department hands boy keys to a shiny laser cutter.  Boy meets laser cutter.  Boy and laser cutter make sweet laser sounds together...punctuated by the occasional acrid stench of burning wood glue and clouds of pungent smoke when air vents were blocked.  Boy almost sets laser bed on fire...or actually does a few times but puts it out fast, thereby saving laser's life.  Boy keeps all this quiet so the department won't take away his key.

Huh...not like a love story at all.  It sounded a lot better in the original write-up.  Whatever.  Anyway, after sadly turning in my keys at the end of the semester, I thought I'd never play with volatile laser beams least until next year.  BUT!  My school has a Design, Build, Fly (DBF) team - although we always managed to catastrophically crash just before the competition...go figure - and a team member wants to get an early jump on manufacturing procedures in an attempt to revitalize the project.  So whaddaya know, I'm now the go-to guy for lasers.  Booya.

So it's time for a new saga!  For years we've had these old central air supply and return vents in our hallway and garage.  They're old-fashioned, impossible to clean, and bent up from years of hallway soccer and such games with four kids in the family.  In short, they're ugly now, and too old to find a direct replacement.  Custom or even stock metal covers are pricey...and mostly hideous.  So what is the solution?  Drab to fab and all that jazz - laser cut a new one out of wood!

The leading image is the final product for our garage vent cover.  The second image shows a before-and-after for the hallway vent.  Still a bit of work to do on that one - cleaning up the wall around the edges and such - but not too shabby overall.  All of this work was done at the cost of materials and a bit of time on a CAD system, totaling perhaps $20 - because my usual wood shop was out of the size stock I needed, so I had to go to an art supply store, where they charge double.  Figures.
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Orngrimm1 year ago
I dont have such vents in my house (living in europe, switzerland), gut i really like what you did there with those ugly grills and replaced them with a simple yet appealing design!
Thumbs up! :)
valhallas_end (author)  Orngrimm1 year ago
Ha, thanks! Believe it or not, we have one vent that's much, much uglier - a 6" x 28" floor register of brown-painted steel in our main hallway. Same ugly bars, just much bigger, with peeling paint and a broken segment (that's too thin to weld back together) also catches on socks and trips me every day. Now to CAD up a newer model...
vnh19701 year ago
What a way to transform an eyesore into a piece of eye candy art. Bravo!!
valhallas_end (author)  vnh19701 year ago
"Eyesore" is the exact word I was looking for...and that's after trying to straighten the old vent bars (you can see how well that worked). Glad you like them!
That is a great idea! I haven't seen this done before! Much fancier than the original cover :D
Thanks! They definitely ended up better than expected. Now to see how well they hold up...and I suppose whether they function well as HVAC vents, too, I guess. That's probably somewhat important...