Vulgar Napkin Holders

Vulgar Napkin Holders

A colleague/friend of mine got her first solo apartment was lamenting that she was needed a bunch of household necessities, including a napkin holder. Since she hadn’t been in a while, I suggested suggested she could make her own at Nova Labs. Annoyed, she told me to make her one; I thought the best gift was one she’d regret asking for…

The first thoughts included some messy clipart faces (think Garbage Pail Kids stickers), but I quickly settled on some nice type and alliteration.

The design for the napkin holder itself was whipped up in Illustrator using a simple tabbed box type design.

Production happened using the laser cutter at Nova Labs.

A less vulgar version was created for a neighbor who commented on Facebook that they wanted one, but would have to wait 10 years before their kids could be exposed to the original!

Boeing 747 toy

Boeing 747 toy

747 laser cut modelMy daughter had asked about making a plane at “your workshop” (aka Nova Labs) and I thought I’d test one method before I brought her along.

This Boeing 747 model started from a vector 3-view drawing I found online. I cleaned it up in Illustrator and prepared cutouts for 5mm wood.

Cut on the laser cutter at Nova Labs.

Definitely less than an hour start to finish.

I think the next try will be to make something a little more 3d by layering pieces of material (I can then get the relative position of the wings and horizontal stabilizer in the right place).

747 laser cut model

747 laser cut model

Room signs for kids

Room signs for kids

Painted sign - EleanorEvery kid needs a sign on his or her door, and while they are little, might as well make it cute (since there will be “Parents, Stay Out!” signs soon enough).

These are actually the second round of room signs – at our old place, and with one kid, we made a similar sign with the same decals. But now with two kids, I decided to make two brand new copies…

A scan of the dragon fly wallpaper decals was traced in Illustrator and each shape was incorporated into the background. Text was added, naturally. Check out a PDF of the file here: Room_signs

Cutting was performed on the laser cutter at Nova Labs, out of 1/8″ hard board.

I primed the pieces with white spray paint, and mom did the painting (including glitter spray paint) with some “help.” 🙂

Pegboard ribbon/dowel holder

Pegboard ribbon/dowel holder

Finished project mounted to pegboardWe have a set of IKEA drawers in our basement with all of our wrapping paper and gift bag type stuff. On the wall above it was a pegboard that we have have hung all of the scissors, tape, etc.

My wife used hooks to hold dowels for rolls of ribbon, but they didn’t extend far enough from the pegboard (given the diameter of the rolls at least) so the hooks would often fall down when you pulled on the ribbon.

Graphic of the dowel holder designed in Illustrator

I whipped up these dowel holders in Illustrator to securely hold two 3/8″ dowels far enough from the pegboard to accommodate the ribbon.

Small tabbed feet keep the holder from falling over, and small holes were included to thread zip-ties through to attach it to the wall.

They were cut from scrap lite plywood at NovaLabs on their 100w laser cutter.

Overall, it is working great! Check out a vectored PDF here: Ribbon holder.

Single ribbon holderA pair of wooden dowel holders

Slotted together Christmas Trees and Snowflakes

A collection of laser cut slot-together Christmas TreesA week and a half ago, I created a slotted together Christmas Tree decoration as a test. My older daughter saw it and asked if she could decorate it, but I couldn’t let her as I needed it for work. Given how easy it was to create, I went ahead and made her several more to color.

These were laser cut out of not-quite 1/8″ lite plywood. The Christmas Trees are 6″ tall, and the Snowflakes are 4″ tall. The flat ones were jammed into the open spaces on the sheet of wood so I didn’t waste as much material.

The items were downloaded from Shutterstock as they had several vector graphics containing multiple Christmas Trees, so I’d only need to buy one image. Same with the snowflakes. I looked for ones with simple, symmetrical designs.

If you want to make these, here are the steps (it’s really simple):

  • Size the tree to whatever you want in Illustrator, Inkscape, whatever…
  • Measure the thickness of your material.
  • Make a rectangle that is half the height of your tree, and where the width is the thickness of your material (in my case, 3″ x .11″).
  • Center align the tree and rectangle.
  • Duplicate the pair of items.
  • On one, ‘bottom align’ the tree and rectangle. On the other, ‘top align’ the items.
  • Use the pathfinder options to remove the rectangle from the tree, and you’re done.

Go past the jump for more photos:

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Box for crayons – custom engraved

A wooden box holding crayons

At this point I’ve created a few laser-cut tabbed boxes (trading card box, boxes for custom puzzles, and another as an electronics enclosure). None of these had an attached lid, but since this particular project was a gift for the 2-year-old daughter of a colleague, I thought that was the way to go.

I took measurements for a package of crayons that was part of her birthday present, and added in the thickness of the .11″ (really, it couldn’t be a full 1/8″?) lite plywood I had. The box maker web application by Rahul at ConnectionLab has been my go-to for these, but, I found that the pieces generated for this particular box had weird corners. I tried using another box maker found at MakerCase and it worked pretty well.

The pieces were symmetrical so it made it a little easier to work with, at the expense of the center tabs having irregular measurements compared to the others.

A wooden box with hinged lid

I took steps to smooth out the top edges of the pieces, and eliminated the tabs from the lid. Pins for the hinge were added, and I created a hole for the pin to go into. The biggest problem was that I initially made the center line of the hole above the part, so the lid didn’t sit flush with the box. I modified the file slightly dropping the hole down, and recut the 2 parts. At least those 2 pieces were pretty small so it wasn’t a huge deal.

Since most little kid birthday parties we’ve been to lately don’t include opening presents, and I haven’t been back at work yet, I don’t know how it was received. Hopefully she loved her name being engraved on the lid!

Ella engraved on the top of a wooden box
Ella and a small bird engraved on the lid of a custom laser-cut tabbed box.
Front view of a wooden box holding crayons
A custom laser-cut tabbed box for crayons.
Ella engraved on the top of a wooden box
Ella and a small bird engraved on the lid of a custom laser-cut tabbed box.
Prototype Christmas Tree gift

Prototype Christmas Tree gift

Slot-together plywood Christmas tree
Assembled prototype of a desktop Christmas Tree decoration.

It looks like this is the second post in a row with work themed projects (you just don’t see all my draft posts!) Anyway…

Last year my team gave our internal clients Christmas cards to say thank you for working with us over the year. I thought we could step it up a bit with a company-themed gift/decoration to go on their desks this December.

This is a prototype of a laser cut, slotted Christmas Tree decoration. Made of 1/8″ birch plywood, I created the design in Illustrator. The shape is intentionally simple as we are going to cut or engrave some of our graphic resources on the final pieces. My wife is advocating for red acrylic, so we’ll see what happens after we discuss at work.

Stay tuned for the final version in the next 2 weeks or so.


Laser cut Christmas tree decoration
2 flat pieces that will slot together to make a Christmas tree decoration. This is just a prototype made of 1/8″ plywood.