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The "wrong tool" can still do a decent job.

Just a quick one, expect a more logorrheic post next week (oh it's definitely possible to be more logorrheic). Joy!



So it's been a while and I've been doing a few odd bits and bobs, but nothing posted yet. A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, I had a contact via my Facebook page asking if I could make a couple of custom buttons. Sounded intriguing.


The client was making a pair of matching crocheted blankets for siblings. Usually, she attaches a makers mark in the form of a sewn-on button with her name lasered on it. There are several sellers on Etsy and the like that can make these buttons for a reasonable cost, but they tend to be bulk order items. Something like these (not mine, just pinched from google)





In this case, she wanted one that said Big Sister and the other Little Sister.

Despite being big for buttons, these needed to be 3.5cm to 4cm across. So the main question was, can I make them using my X-carve CNC? My machine is really a hobbyist CNC router, it has a working area of 75cm x 75cm and is ideal for making signs and 2-dimensional carving of medium-sized boards, it is not the most rigid machine on the market and hence not the most precise. So when it comes to engraving text that's 8mm tall and less than 1mm wide it's not really the right tool. A laser or engraving machine with a much smaller range of travel, more rigidity and screw drives for precision would make more sense.


But, I've made a career out of not being the "right tool" but still being able to get the job done. So I figured I'd give it a go, see what we could do.

I started off with a couple of mahogany scraps just to test sizes and font clarity.



Not too bad but version 1 felt too large and fitting the text on a smaller button would be tricky. Some extra design work was required which led to curved text and a 20% reduction in size. Sounds obvious, but the software I use is not capable of automatically curving the text, so the letters need to be sized and rotated by hand individually, and if you've ever worked with fonts you'll know how difficult it is to judge spacing and positioning different sized letters (and then do that on a curve).


An offcut of walnut (from the bottle coaster project last year- see there is a reason I keep all my scraps!), cut into two gave me two nice matching blanks.



They looked good off the machine, but the dilemma was should I highlight the text or just leave it engraved and contrasted by the shadow. I think with very fine text, the grain of the wood makes the carving look a little less precise, so I was leaning towards filling it.


A few test runs with some pink mica and epoxy and we had a winner.



Some sanding, oiling and machine polishing and two little shiny jewels are complete.



And finally delivered and attached. I've been deliberately vague on the client since these are a gift for later in the year and I don't want to spoil the surprise, so I haven't tagged her. But if you are after a crocheted something, I can put you in touch.




That's all for now....

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