All posts by Mike Wilson

Jig for laser cutting at an angle other than 90 degrees

I’ve been asked about this a few times. Now that Dragon Powered is closed, I’m reluctant to spend time turning this into a free download. I’d like to be able to support others in trying the technique, though. Here’s a picture from the 3D design software I used which I hope will be useful.

Combined with the YouTube video, I hope anyone will be able to design a jig to suite their purposes.

Roof cutting jig
Roof cutting jig

Collage of my clip boxes

Pinterest seem to be confused about the owner of this image. This is a collage of my photos of my work. It is copyright (C) 2016 Mike Wilson, all rights reserved.

Someone used my photo, without permission, to link to their own site.

Laser cutting jig

Configure RD CAM to laser cut with a jig

This post is for users of RD CAM, the software that typically comes with unbranded Chinese laser cutters.

When I laser cut 4mm birch ply, I use a jig to hold the sheet flat. I found this to be necessary as ply less than 12mm thick isn’t guaranteed to be flat, and the 4mm birch ply I have bought is particularly wobbly.

My cutting jig holds the ply clear of the table which means it is important to make the cuts in the correct order. If the cutter attempted to cut a hole in a part after cutting the part, the part may have dropped and so the laser would be out of focus. So it’s important to cut the holes first.

In theory, RD CAM is able to work out which parts to cut first. In practice I have found it can be easily confused and so I order the cuts manually. I use different colour lines for the cuts to be made first and order the colours in RD CAM.

It is necessary to configure RD CAM to use the coloured layer ordering. By trial and error (as the software’s manual is dreadful), I have arrived at a strategy that appears to work. First, click the “Cut optimise” tool bar button:

This opens the dialog:

Make sure the “Order of layer” check box is ticked and click “Ok”. In the main window move the layer colours up and down the list so the cuts to be made first are at the top.

Laser cut stamp

Laser cut rubber stamp

This stamp is laser cut from laser friendly rubber from Hobarts. The handle is laser cut from 4mm birch ply, also from Hobarts. I don’t have any plans to make a product of this, it’s an experiment at the moment.

Laser cut stamp
Laser cut stamp

Trinket/essential oil box product almost ready

My next download project is almost ready. The box can be used as a small jewellery box or trinket box, or with the optional divider, it can store 12 x 10ml bottles of essential oil.
This is glued and ready to be oiled which I will do in the next few days. Then I need to write instructions to complete the download product.

Free laser cut paper lantern at Instructables

I made my “Stars” paper lantern download project into a free download from Instructables. All four designs are available as a paid download from Etsy.

The wisdom of marketing in the Internet age is to give away something of genuine value (so not a cheap pen) in the hope that some will return and make a purchase. I’d like to be making a living at this, so I’m trying to spread the word about my work. Wish me luck!

Tall "Moroccan" lamp

Images for social media marketing

I’m not a marketing expert, but I have gained some ideas over the years which I think are useful and I’ll share some here.

Even non visual products can be promoted through platforms like Pinterest, so it’s always a good idea to have an image associated with, for example, a blog post. In WordPress, use the “Featured Image” option to add an image to the post. Now there’s an image you or anyone else can use to create a link to your post on Pinterest.

It’s worth creating different images for each platform. The dimensions that work for one platform may be cropped on another. If the image you want to use is the wrong aspect ratio, consider creating a collage. I use Google’s Picasa for this. There are also sites like PicMonkey which lets you create collages on-line. (I just discovered Picasa has been retired, which is a shame).

Here are images I created for different platforms:

1024×512 for Twitter (scaled down)
1200×628 for FaceBook (scaled down)
800×2400 for Pinterest (scaled down)

Pinterest doesn’t seem to have a maximum height. “Skyscraper” images look great here.

Oil box render

New product in development

This is a new version of a box I first designed over a year ago. I have added feet to make the finished box more visually striking. The design remains fairly minimal and intends to make the most of the beautiful grain of birch plywood. The box is designed to be cut from 4mm birch ply. The image above is a 3D render of the design. The finished box will be 10x18x11cm.

The box has an optional insert to hold 12 x 10ml essential oil bottles. Without the insert, this would be ideal as a small jewellery or keepsake box. The box features my unique all ply hinges.

This is a more advanced project. Working with 4mm birch ply is more challenging that MDF or 6mm poplar ply as the birch is rarely flat, and requires some innovative techniques to create a box with a well fitting lid. The project explores these techniques and includes a lid gluing jig to be cut from 4mm MDF. As usual, detailed instructions are included.