In my job I do a lot of designs for people. As I can't even draw a stright line I get my wonderful boss Jenny to do the artwork and then convert it to a file that the laser cutter can 'read'. Sometimes however a girl just wants to make something for herself! This was a quick little project that took me less than an afternoon that I used to make my ikea unit a little more unique and a little bit more me.
1) Select an image you like – I used this vintage image of an octopus from Graphics fairy (google her it’s fantastic). Even better she cleans up a lot of the images to black and white, I took the image and split it into 4 equal bits in photoshop making the next step easy.
2) Now we need to vectorise the image. I do this a lot in my job because every image we cut has to go through this process. Luckly as I was rastering (making the laser burn backwards and forwards) and not line etching or cutting (where the laser head traces and burns out the shape in the order you tell it to) I didn't need to edit the image in photoshop or worry about if the lines overlapped. To vectorise the image
- click Bitmaps>import bitmap you then open the picture and type 330mm into the size box. Bitmap>set to monochrome. Bitmap>vectorise bitmap. Reduce Lumanance down to 90, click okay, change to custom settings and click off the bottom three tick boxes, whap the conversion quality to high and then leave and make yourself a cup of tea while it chugs away. Then spend a very very long time tweeking the image trying to balance the level of detail and the thickness of the lines. Sometimes I hit lucky and manage the balance right away, sometimes it takes me 5 or 6 tries and a lot of manual manipulation of the final image.
Step 1: Prepare your wood
3) Right now you’re ready for the wood. I wanted originally to use solid wood but couldn’t afford it so bought two packs of B&Q pine panelling for £2.48 a pop. Cut them down into 33cm panels. Each draw requires 4 of these strips. Cut the bottom strip down to 5cm high making sure you cut of the groove not the tongue so that it still fits into the grove of the plank above it (experience talking here!)
4) Cut 8 33cm square bits of ply. I got some from work which we found out too late was highly flammable and couldn’t be cut on the laser – on the plus side it was free to me (if you are a regular customer you know about the fiasco of the wood!). Put it aside as you will need it in a min.
5) Put together 3 full size bits and your little skinny bit to make a 33cm square panel. Pop in the laser, line the image up on the screen and press print. Wait for the whole thing to etch, change over the image and repeat. Soon you will have 4 draw fronts. Just make sure to remember the image is in the centre so you need to put the image bottom right then bottom left then top right etc.