The Nova Labs Kickstarter campaign ended successfully back in early 2015. One of the higher backer levels was for the backers’ name on a wall in the space, but we also planned on sending them a plaque.
I didn’t expect that someone would put 4 mounting standoffs on their wall, so I thought that something more like a paperweight for the backer’s desk or bookcase would be better.
At the fall 2015 Adobe MAX conference, a booth for Universal Laser allowed attendees to make wooden stamp blocks using Adobe’s Creative Cloud Shared Libraries to get files from workstations to the folks running the laser. As the exhibition floor was shutting down they were handing out the remaining cubes, so I grabbed a few of the blanks to play with at home. I thought the 2″ cubes could be a good format for the backer reward.
Not wanting to settle on the first material idea I had, I also ordered a clear acrylic cube to test on.
In the end the acrylic seemed way too ‘corporate gift’ looking, with the birch wood being way warmer, especially after giving the final pieces a coat of tung oil.
Setup and production
The key to engraving these easily was setting up a row of seven 2″ squares that were lightly cut into a sacrificial material. The blocks were then put on these lines ensuring accurate placement of each faces’ design.
Fortunately the position of “home” doesn’t change as you adjust the Z-height (you need to do the light guide cut with the laser focused on the paper or foamcore, and then drop the bed down to accommodate the height of the block.)
Masking tape was used to reduce the discoloration of the wood due to smoke from the engrave, but I’m not sure if it was worth the time needed to remove all of the tiny counters of the text, vs sanding with a belt or disk sander.
As it was, the wood cubes were still sanded down after removing the tape. They were eventually finished with tung oil after doing a few tests with other finishes such as varnish and shellac.