Have a musician friend or relative? Consider making this laser engraved pendant containing one of the first songs they likely learned to play. Made from thin veneers of contrasting colors, it is sure to make them smile.
I made this at TechShop www.techshop.ws
Step 1: Materials and Equipment
Vector drawing software (I used CorelDraw)
Laser cutter (my TechShop has a Trotec Speedy 300)
3/32" thick basswood sheet (1"x1.5" or larger)
1/16" thick walnut veneer (1"x1.5" or larger)
150 grit sandpaper
3 Jump rings
This instructable assumes some basic familiarity with CorelDraw and a laser cutter.
Step 2: Draw the Staff
The initial size of the staff and notes doesn't really matter, as you can scale the final design up or down as necessary to become pendant sized. Start by drawing a long black horizontal line (I used black to indicate that the lines will be engraved). My line happened to be about 5.5" long. Using the Step and Repeat function, create five copies with a vertical offset. I experimented with a few different offsets until they looked about right to me. This turned out to be an offset of 0.25". You should also fiddle with the line thickness until things look right to you, mine ended up with a width of 8px.
You might be wondering why there are six lines when a staff only contains five lines. For this song, the first two notes start off the bottom of the staff and the sixth line will make aligning the notes easier.
Step 3: Add the Notes
Each note consists of a note head and a stem. The note head is the elliptical part of the note, which is easy to create with a rotated oval. Again using trial and error, I drew ovals and rotated them until one looked about right. An oval slightly over half the height of the distance between staff lines and rotated to 25 degrees worked well. I made six copies of the note head and placed them in their approximate locations. Then using the Align and Distribute function I spaced them equally apart horizontally. This worked out to be about 0.6" center to center. I then tweaked their position by either snapping them to the staff line or centering them between the lines as appropriate. The first six notes are quarter notes so they had to be filled solid, and I left the final note open as it is a half note.
I next added the stems to the notes by drawing simple straight vertical lines. Again, play with the line thickness settings for the right look (14px wide here). Now we have to deal with the bottom notes. Delete the bottom horizontal line, then draw a short line through each of the bottom notes. I was concerned these wouldn't show up as well so I increased their thickness to 12px (compared to the 8px of the full length lines).
Step 4: Add the Treble Clef
I did a quick search for treble clef clip art. I imported the bitmap, and using the Outline Trace tool converted the bitmap to a curve (this results in a smoother appearance). I then sized the treble clef to fit on the left side of the staff. Now select the entire design, and merge all of the elements into a single curve using the Convert to Curves tool. This makes scaling easier, which is the next step. I set mine to be 1" wide.
Step 5: Create the Cut Lines
With the color set to red and the width set to hairline, draw an oval that just fits around the musical score. This will be the visible area of the back piece of wood. Draw a slightly larger oval around that to form the shape of the top piece of wood (and the outer border of the back piece). Now draw two small concentric circles at the top to make the attachment point for the necklace. Save two copies of this base design.
For the back piece (that contains the musical score) delete the inner oval and the portions of the outer oval that overlap the top circles. For the top piece (the walnut trim) delete the musical score and the portions of the ovals that overlap the top circles. This might be a little confusing to read, but the pictures should make it pretty clear.
Step 6: Laser Cut the Pieces
Time to play with the laser! For the back piece (which uses the light colored basswood) it engraved well at 100% power and 40% speed and cut well at 100% power and 2.5% speed. The walnut only needs to be cut and 100% power and 2% speed worked well.
Step 7: Sand, Seal, Glue, and Seal Some More
Lightly sand the basswood to remove any residue from the engraving operation. Basswood is fairly soft and sands easily, so it cleans off quickly but be careful not to accidentally sand too deeply and ruin the engraving. Then lightly sand the walnut, being careful not to break it as the piece is quite thin. Now spray the basswood with the acrylic, let it dry, sand lightly, spray again, and sand lightly once more. You want to do this before gluing the walnut trim on as you won't be able to get in with the sandpaper afterwards. Carefully superglue the walnut trim onto the basswood and let dry. Now the final coat of acrylic can be applied.
Step 8: Finish Up!
The pendant is just a few jump rings and a necklace away from being complete. With some sturdy fingernails (or a pair of needle nose pliers) they can be joined in a few moments. The pendant is now ready to be worn or wrapped as a gift. Enjoy!