Introduction: Laser Cut Shawshank Redemption Hollow Book

About: I'm a design student at Brunel University and continue to do a range of projects.

This is a project I have personally had in mind for a few months now and my dad's birthday gave me the chance to make it. The project is based on the bible from Shawshank Redemption which has a hollowed out space for a hammer.

*Disclaimer: There is a couple of inaccuracies, the book is a crossword solvers dictionary not a bible as the pages of most bibles prove too thin. The hammer is a doctors reflex hammer not a rock hammer as I couldn't find a hammer small enough and its a gift for my dad a doctor.*

Step 1: The Bible/Book.

To create this the gift I had to make a few choices. The first was that I wasn't going to use a bible. This is because we need paper which is thicker than that in most bibles and also a bible is hard to locate in charity shops.

You want to find a book which is at least 180mm by 270mm by 50mm (with a 15mm leeway on all but the depth) and is a hardback cover. When finding a book you want one with around 50mm worth of pages. I would recommend dictionaries and that sort of book if you can find a bible then feel free to go for it but personally there seems something a bit off about burning a hole into the bible.

Step 2: The Hammer

In Shawshank there is two hammers shown in the movie the first one and one in the newspaper at the very end and in the book it is actually mentioned that he used more than one hammer during his time. In the movie he tells Red it is "about eight or nine inches long" but I scaled it from the bible and it's right around 8 inches and most hammers for sale are much larger than this hence my choice to use a reflex hammer.

The exact dimensions for the hole the hammer fits snugly in is 118mm by 200mm as shown in picture 1. So keep that in mind when finding a hammer.

Looking at the design above in picture 2, it almost looks like the handle was shaped down from it's original form. The middle rivit/pin in the handle isn't in the center on the handle. If it was manufactured like that, one would think it would end up cracking. I'd put my money on a found hammer head with a "made" handle for the film so they could get something that worked for the story line. As in a handle that would fit inside a bible.

Step 3: The Design of the Hole

To design the hole I used 2D design by Techsoft however you could use any design software compatible with the laser cutter you have access to.

First task is to create a bounding box which is an inch (25mm) smaller than the edge of the pages on each dimension. Place the hammer over a blank page of paper over a page in the book and draw around it with a marker. Take a photo or scan in this image of the hammer. Like in the picture above.

Take the image of the hammer outline and resize it to the size of the bounding box. Then trace over the image or contour the image to get an outline for the shape of the hammer.

From there export the file in a format the laser cutter will work with for me DXF. Which I have attached below along with a few other formats If you want a format not included just comment below and I will add it.

Step 4: Sealing the Book Together.

Before cutting the book it is important to glue the pages together this way the cut stay in the same place, and also that the book will look better as the finished product.

So first step in sealing the book is to cling film or 'saran wrap' the front cover of the book as well as around 20 pages so the area isn't obvious to anyone (picture 1). This area wrapped up will not be sealed. Then using a mix of PVA and water to around 70% glue 30% water.

Using this mixture and a brush cover the sides of the pages with the book closed with around 3 or so coatings. Next place a vary heavy weight onto the book. (I used a rotary device for the laser as it is what I had at hand see picture 2.)

Leave for at leave 2 hours then you can move on to the next stage.

Step 5: Laser Cutting Time.

At this point you can start laser cutting your book. First off place the book on the bed and using masking take tape down the cover and first 20 pages to the bed to hold the book open as shown in picture 1.

Then download the design made earlier and cut it on the standard paper setting for your laser. On mine that is roughly a cut at 40 speed and 30 power. Play with the settings until you get the correct setting make sure to do this in a test book with the same thickness of paper.

Start cutting then remove the negative and repeat until about 3 or 5mm thick. At that point you can instruct your laser to go over the line more than once just don't do it more than 7 times as the paper will burn.

Step 6: Finishing Touches and a Birthday Card...

Remember this is a gift (hence being in the gift contest) so I had to make sure to clean up the book by using the glue from earlier to seal the cut edges.

Then I decided to engrave some detail into the book to personalise it. I also included a laser cut birthday card follow the idea of cutting the paper then adding coloured card behind it. Which can be seen in picture 1.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015