Introduction: Making a Child's 'name' Puzzle

One of my granddaughters has an unusual, family, name. She just turned two, and her mother loved puzzles starting at that age. So when I took the class, on using the laser cutter, at the Tech Shop I knew I wanted to make her a puzzle out of her name.

Step 1:

First I chose a simple font that didn't have many sharp corners or too fine serifs in Corel Draw. (I chose the Kristen font which looks a bit like a kid wrote it.) I had to do some adjusting since the cutter only cuts 'hairline' lines. I chose the hairline outline and chose 'clear' for the fill option to better see what exactly would be cut. I "broke apart"  the name and expanded each letter to make them "fatter". 
I put a rectangle around it and then duplicated the rectangle to make the back
I used the oval option and made circles that would fit on to the letters as sort of knobs for those chubby little hands to grasp and use to guide.  
I saved  the knob circles as a separate file and used it as a test for the cutting.
I saved the files as eps files; saved it on a flash drive, as well as emailed it to myself. (Always good to have a plan 'B')

Step 2:

Once at the Tech Shop I cleaned the machine, checked the focus of the laser, and set the 'home' starting point in the upper left hand corner - giving myself a bit of room  . . .just in case (this is my first project)
I opened my knob (test) file; set the speed, force and frequency settings according to the chart given to me in class and helpfully, posted on the table at the computer. However, I chose a dense composite wood that looked like the right thing for a puzzle but is much denser than natural wood. So I slowed down the speed a bit, upped the frequency a skosh, and took two passes

Step 3:

I then set up for the main attraction. I ended up cutting the name with 3 passes and even then I had to do a bit or razor cutting and serious pushing to separate the pieces.

Step 4:

I separated all the pieces and sanded the "frame" piece and the letter centers to make for a looser fit..

Step 5:

I glued the top piece to the bottom piece using standard wood glue.
I put the vowels in  without their centers tracing around where they would be. Then I glued the centers in to place. Before the glue dried I checked to make sure the placement was correct.

Step 6:

I decided to glue the knobs on to the letters so that the paint could act as an additional 'bond' for these little pieces which will get  a lot of stress.

Step 7:

When the glue was dry, I painted. I first used a primer on all the pieces and then painted each part with acrylic paints.
I did a bit of detailing for fun.
I let it all dry for 24 hours before finishing off with a clear varnish to give it a final coat to battle crayon marks and toddler  goo.