Wooden trading card box

Wooden trading card box

Trading cards for our marketing team in a custom box.My day job is as Production Designer for a large dot-com (I’ll see if you’re one of the 20% or so of the population that can recognize our brand). This project was to welcome our new president as part of his on-boarding, specifically as he visited Marketing. I don’t know who came up with the ‘trading card’ idea, but I got a survey link to fill out some info about me, and a request to be sure I liked my photo in the team directory. Since we didn’t want to give him a stack of loose cards, I was asked to make a box…

I made this along with the boxes for the dog and squirrel puzzles, and I’m happy with how they turned out (especially considering it was an important project and I hadn’t made a tabbed box before).

Lid detail for wooden tabbed-box cut on a laser cutter.The cards were 2.5” x 3.5”, and using interior dimensions .1” bigger made them very easy to put in and take out, but not jiggle around too much.

The pieces for the bottom of the lid certainly conserved material, but I need to figure out how to manage the kerf so the pieces fit more snugly. It’s a step in the right direction and worked ok this time.

Wooden tabbed-box cut on a laser cutter.

Bottom of a laser cut box for trading cards.

Custom wooden puzzles

Custom wooden puzzles

Puzzle pieces

We have gotten into the near habit of visiting some friends the weekend after Labor Day, and this year I wanted to bring a cool hostess gift. Also visiting that weekend is another friend who has made wonderful baby blankets for both of our girls, and I wanted to give her something special as a thank you.

For my quilting friend, I had wanted to make her a squirrel-something for a while, due to her personal vendetta against them (something to do with a nest of them eating part of her house). Our other friends have long-hair dachshunds (no vendettas, but they don’t get along with our dog too well), so I thought to make them something with dogs.

Enter the puzzle.

I made a chunky wood puzzle a while ago to be suitable for children, but I wanted to try more intricate shapes with easier to laser-cut 1/4” plywood.

I bought dog and squirrel artwork so I could focus on the puzzle aspect… using Illustrator I hand drew all of the puzzle lines for each one, and tried to loosely inject some detail into what would otherwise be just a silhouette.

Custom wooden laser-cut squirrel and daschund puzzles

My take aways and tips for this project were:

  • Make the outline of the puzzle as a separate object that is cut last.
  • Keep piece lines as long as possible, and don’t divide them at intersections.
  • Use a honeycomb bed so pieces don’t fall down into the laser path and get damaged
    • I used the blade bed thinking that I’d reduce char marks on the bottom of the pieces, but in reality I got fairly pronounced smoke staining anyway. Also, I had to pause the laser to tape pieces together as they were cut. Not wanting to push too hard led to the masking tape not making full-contact and leaving its own discoloration… But at least nothing fell through the slats and got damaged.
  • The pieces are big enough that I should have protected the wood with masking or transfer tape from the beginning.

The boxes:Custom laser cut boxes for small puzzles.


These were my first tabbed-boxes… I used the box-maker website found at http://boxmaker.rahulbotics.com/ to give me my files, which I modified to smooth out the top edge. I also created a lip that would assemble inside the top of the lid so it wouldn’t jiggle around…

The file from the website was easy to work with, just needing to ‘join segments’ in Nova Labs’ laser program.

After I made the first box I realized it was way bigger than necessary. But, it was easy to shorten each of the side pieces by deleting a pair of notches.

Assembly with .004” cut width settings was good (I probably could have gone .006” to get it tighter) and thin CA was enough to hold it all together.

My last note is that these puzzles are pretty tricky; the uniform color top and bottom doesn’t make it easy for you to know what side is up!

Custom laser-cut long-hair dachshund  puzzle Custom laser-cut long-hair dachshund  puzzle

Custom laser-cut squirrel puzzle Custom laser-cut squirrel puzzle detail

Custom boxes for puzzles Kiss-cut designs in the lid of a box for a puzzle.

Christmas Stocking Hangers

Christmas Stocking Hangers

Christmas stocking holders on mantle

It is the beginning of September and Christmas creep is in full swing. Craft stores already seem to have supplies out for all of the major 4th quarter holidays – I guess crafters like to plan ahead and be prepared?

Not me – I had just completed my laser cutter safety course at Nova Labs, and this was actually my first project just 2 weeks prior to Christmas, 2013.

5 pieces of art for Christmas stocking holders

Here are the details:

  • Material is 1/2″ thick oak, which was very slow to cut and had a lot of charring.
    • We actually liked the contrast of the blackened edge to the lighter wood and didn’t bother sanding these at all.
  • Art was created in Illustrator, from a mix of sources:
    • Reindeer was a simplified tracing of a small figurine we purchased in Copenhagen in 2009.
    • Snowman was more-or-less made from scratch.
    • The snowflake took inspiration from other vector snowflakes online.
    • Tree was straight from a Shutterstock vector library of Christmas trees
    • The ornament was a slightly modified Shutterstock file.
  • The base was designed with a notch to match the thickness of the wood hook.
    • Despite not really accounting for the laser kerf, it pressure fits in and doesn’t need glue or other fasteners to stay put.

Overall my first project went very well, with no problems that I can remember. We loved that these matched our style much better than anything we found online. I guess that’s the entire point of making.

Check out a PDF of the more original artwork.Christmas_Stocking_Hangers_2013-12-09

Assembly of Christmas stocking holder base
Assembly of Christmas stocking holder base.
Comparing snapshot of reindeer figurine to simplified outline
Snapshot of a reindeer figurine and the simplified outline of it.