Introduction: Spinning Wheel Business Card (or Mother's Day Card!)

About: I am a lifelong maker and artist with 15 years experience teaching students to make things better for themselves. I teach at Mark Day School in Marin County, CA

With three layers of materials and a little thinking you can create a spinning wheel card that fits almost any need. I wanted a unique way to describe what I do for my business card, but quickly realized I could use the same format to create a fun and interesting card to describe my amazing mother!

For a head-start, I've included the Adobe Illustrator file, but any vector drawing program has what you need to create this project to your own specifications.

The materials shown include a 2mm single-ply bamboo and a slightly thinner press board. 2mm is the upper limit on thickness in my opinion, but much thinner and it begins to feel fragile. Obviously with modifications it could be made out of many different materials. It could also be made using less "high tech" methods.

If you like this design, please consider voting for it in the Mind For Design contest (above) as well!

Step 1: Creating the Artwork

If you have Adobe Illustrator, the file attached will give you a head start on your own creation. I start by creating a rectangle the the size I want-in this case 2" x 3.5" for a business card. Then I design the top layer. I Add each layer's elements on one at a time until I have an image that looks like the one above.

Step 2: Creating the Wheel & Adding Words

Your wheel doesn't have to be a gear. Actually, a shape with less bumps turns a bit more freely, but I like the gears. There are many ways to make gears, but I used an online tool called Gear Template Generator. It creates a file that needs a bit of cleaning up, but the one I've included in my file is ready to go.

Add words to the wheel by creating a word box and typing your first word in to the oval so it fits neatly.

Select the word, and rotate it 45 degrees to create a new open space on your wheel to type your next word. Of course, if you want less than 8 words, divide 360 degrees by the number of words you have to find the degrees you should rotate your words.

Each time you add a word, select all the previous words and rotate them together.

Step 3: Separating the Layers

Once you are satisfied with your design and you've added the words to your wheel, Select everything and copy it to two new layers.

Label each layer so you can easily tell them apart. I call mine Top, Middle and Bottom.

Starting with the top layer, delete all components of the design that don't relate to that layer. Turn off all other layers so you can focus on just that one.

Once you've carefully removed all lines and graphics that don't relate to a specific layer, combine the layers and see how they line up.

Step 4: Define Your Lines

For our laser cutter vector lines are defined by a line width of .1pt. All other lines will be etched or rastered. Make sure you know how to do this on your machine, and have defined your lines the way you want them. Complex designs can get confusing. In the example image above, the little horizontal line will be rastered, but all others will be cut lines.

Step 5: Cut and Assemble

Cut the parts according to the material and machine you have. If using a single-ply material like the bamboo, make sure one layer is cut with the grain running opposite to the other pieces to help strengthen it.

Once you have your parts, do a quick test fit by layering them together. If everything looks good, use a sparing quantity of quick-setting glue to assemble, starting with the bottom. The graphic above should help you avoid the major pitfalls. Any glue on the wheel will stop it from spinning, so be very careful around that area. Also, be sure to not press down too hard when assembling or the wheel may be overly tight and hard to turn.

Step 6: Innovate!

The more you think about it, the more ideas will come to you. For example, I realized with a few changes, I could make a card with writing on the front AND back. The file for that is above. Let this serve as inspiration for your own enhancements.

Now go forth and create!

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