This year for Christmas I wanted to make my mom something special. Originally I wanted to make her a magnetic family tree with every ones names on the leafs but then I remembered how she was always forgetting peoples birthdays so I then decided to combine the two ideas of a family tree and a birthday chart! Thanks to my access to all the lovely machines at my local Techshop I was able to accomplish this project and make my mom a very happy lady this Christmas.
Things you will need:
Access to CorelDraw or a program like it.
Access to a laser cutter
Access to a cnc plasma cutter.
12 anodized aluminum tags for the months of the year
As many anodized aluminum tags as you need for your family members birthdays
As many S hooks that you will need to attach your family birthday tags to the plasma cut base
24 flat head machine screws, washers and nuts (you can use rivets as well)
Step 1: Create Your File for the Plasma Cut Base
I started this project by making the file for the base. I wanted my base to be made out of 16 gauge to say FAMILY. Below that I needed to make room for the tags I planned on using. Once I had the space needed, I had to make circles to create holes to mount the tags onto the base and holes for the birthday tags to hang from. Keep in mind that when using the plasma cutter there will be a kerf. Make sure to compensate for this in your file work by making your holes slightly smaller.
Once my file was done for the base I exported it as a DXF for the plasma cutter. After making sure everything was set up correctly for the machine to run properly I cut out the base.
Step 2: Laser Etch and Mount the Months of the Year Tags Onto the Base
I decided to make my tags for the months of the year out of gold anodized aluminum dog tags. I needed to make another hole on the bottom of the tag so I could mount them to the base securely. I did this by measuring out the exact dimension of the top hole, making a mark on the bottom of the tag in the same location and then drilling the hole out on a drill press. I added this hole into my CorelDraw file for the laser so that I could place the month between these two holes proportionately.
Once all the file work was done I grabbed the jig that holds dog tags from the front desk at Techshop and headed back to the lasers to laser etch them.
With the months nicely laser etched onto my tags it was time to mount them to the base. I used flat head machine screws with washers and nuts to attach through the tags and the base. You can also use rivets to attach the tags.
Step 3: Laser Etch and Attach Your Family Birthday Tags
I had to make holes in the bottom of the birthday tags as well because I wanted them to dangle from each other under the month of the year using s hooks. So I repeated the same process with these tags that I did with the dog tags but I only had to make holes in the birthday tags that would have a tag connected below it. For example: In April we have four people with birthdays so I had to make holes in three of the tags for them to hang off one another. The forth one did not need a hole because they were the last one with a birthday that month. Also, I only have one close family member with a birthday in August so that tag did not need a second hole for another tag to hang from.
Once I had everyone's names and day of the month created in a file for my circle tags (blue for male, pink for female) I grabbed the circle tag jig and laser etched them.
All I had to do then was connect all my tags to each other using the S hooks and attach them under the right month of the year.