Friday, April 20, 2018

Engraved Wooden Wand Case v1

Hot on the heels of my recent laser engraved Goetic Seals Box, I found another use for some of those pre-made wooden boxes that you find at the craft store.

This is a 7x2 inch wooden box that I have sanded and laser engraved with a design on the lid, which I had selected specifically to use in conjunction with some 6" selenite wands which I carry in my shop.

After engraving, I sealed the box with two or three coats of de-waxed shellac. Then I set about trying to install a foam and cloth lining to cradle the rather fragile selenite wand.

The foam part of the lining came together very quickly. I used 2mm craft foam and positioned it in such a way that the springiness of the foam would create a soft cradle for the wand on the bottom of the box, and also a pad on the underside of the lid would apply gentle pressure to keep the wand from moving around.

The bottom foam piece was cut extra wide and the edges and center folded down to make an M shape. The sides of the box will hold the edges in place. In order to keep the center down, I glued it down to a scrap piece of chipboard that would run along the bottom under the foam.

The short ends of the box also needed some padding to protect the tips of the wand, so I cut two pieces of 2mm foam (two for each end) to tuck into the end of the box. I had to trim the M piece a little to make room for the end padding.

BTW, pay no attention to the fact that the colors of the foam change in some of these pictures. I lined more than one box and had at least one failed attempt and I just used whatever color foam I had laying around. I knew I would be covering it with cloth anyway. Each picture may not be from the same box or stage of the project.

The cushion on the lid was just a simple piece of 2mm craft foam cut a little wide so that it would bow out a little bit from the lid. This will offer some gentle pressure to keep the wand from moving around when the lid is closed.

The foam part came together quickly, but the cloth part was a pain in the ass. I ruined at least one set of foam parts experimenting with how I was going to cover it with cloth. I originally intended to use velvet, but I thought satin would be easier to work with because it is thinner, and I knew I would be tucking the excess cloth behind the edges of the foam. Sorry, it's hard to see much detail of the cloth work because it is black.

The lid was the easier of the two sides, but even that took two tries to get an acceptable, if not perfect result. The satin cloth is spray glued to the craft foam and the ends are turned under and also tacked with spray glue. The short ends were kept a little sloppy so that the excess cloth would hide the small gap created by the bowing of the foam.

Pro tip: don't use super glue with craft foam and satin cloth. It soaks through the cloth very quickly, bonds to your fingers instantly, and dries very slowly on the foam.

The bottom side was even more problematic. At least two failed attempts were made trying to cover this assembly with cloth. Again, I used spray glue to tack down the satin to the craft foam. I had to wrap the little end pads in satin separately and just tuck them in on the ends. I tried to cover them at the same time as the main piece but that didn't work out well. Even just covering the main piece had a lot of little issues that had to be worked out. Tucking things in here, folding things under there, making sure not to impede the design of the M shape of the foam. Difficult to explain, but take my word for it. There were issues.

Anyway, it all got worked out satisfactorily. The lining wasn't quit as nice or as easy to make as I had wanted it to be, but the end product is quit a bit better than the cheap pre-fab wooden box I started with. This will up the value of the selenite wands considerably.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Here Be Demons

The Ars Goetia is the first section of a 17th century grimoire known as the Lesser Key of Solomon. It is basically the yellow pages of conjuration. Personally, I stay away from conjuring or summoning of any kind. It's just not my bag. But for those who do, the 72 demons described in the goetia will take care of most of your needs.

I have a large collection of craft store pre-made boxes of various types and sized, and recently I decided to start purging that collection in favor of making my own better quality boxes out of nicer wood. Among those craft boxes, I found this one which looked to be the perfect size and shape to hold a collection of sigils from the Lesser Key.

The lid of the box was laser engraved with the Secret Seal of Solomon, a protection talisman. It was hand sanded and finished with about seven coats of wipe-on polyurethane (note to self: use a pre-stain sealer first next time). The first coat was tinted with a walnut stain. The cards are printed on 60 pound parchment stock, and cut apart by hand.

This project was largely economical in its purpose. I intend to sell these sets in my shop. It is also a way to get rid of some cheap wood boxes by classing them up with my new laser cutter. So, win-win.

Saturday, March 24, 2018


It's been almost two years since I've made a wand on the lathe. I made about twenty wands, and then I got sick of them and started making pendulums, and then I built the Roubo workbench, and then I didn't go back to the lathe for a while. I've been kind of missing it, but the workshop has been a mess and there have been other things going on. Yesterday, I decided to throw a chunk of poplar dowel on the midi-lathe and see how it felt. Just to see if it came easy or if it came hard. Turns out, it came easy.

I turned that chunk of poplar dowel into a short wand in about a half hour, and it didn't turn out half bad. No plan, just free form. The night was young, so I thought, why not make another one? This time I wanted a nicer wood. I don't care much for poplar. It is soft, has an ugly color and uninteresting grain (IMO). I pulled out a piece of walnut from my storage rack, but then I put it back. I wasn't feeling quite up to that yet. Then I decided to have a go at one of the pieces of elm that I had slabbed and stacked to dry last year.

I hadn't made anything yet from any of the lumber that I cut last year. This would be the first piece. I cut a 2" strip from the straighter side on the band saw and chucked it up in the lathe. It doesn't cut too bad.

Though the original board had a little bit of color to it, the final piece seems a little drab and the straight grain doesn't excite much, but the greatest appeal to me is that it is the first piece to be made from wood that I gathered, cut from a log into a board, and dried in my workshop. Watching it go from tree limb to finished piece is kind of satisfying (even though it is a year long process).

... baby steps.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Have Laser, Will... leave it sitting on the table because it is freaking heavy!

A new toy arrived today- my Glowforge laser cutter/engraver (I refuse to call it a laser printer, like the company does, because it isn't), which I purchased on pre-order and have been waiting on for over two years worth of delays. I swear to the gods, if this thing was delayed one more time I was going to cancel my order. Of coarse, that's what I said the last time it was delayed too.


There is surprisingly little in the way of customer reviews out there for this machine. Probably because no one had received theirs until very recently. But that's not really the focus of this blog, so I'm just going to show you my first test item to come off of the machine.

This is made from 1/8 inch thick hard maple, that came with my machine. The company sells a line of "proofgrade" materials that they have vetted and calibrated for use in the machine. They come with a peel off film on both sides to prevent scorching of the surface from the engraving process, and there is a QR code sticker on it that the machine can recognize and so it automatically adjusts its power and speed setting for material density and thickness. It's convenient and a novel idea, but the proofgrade materials are far too expensive to use regularly. I will have to practice with some of my own materials and settings.

The pattern for this test item was created in Inkscape, and took about ten minutes. Would have been faster, but I have to get used to checking to make sure I am using the correct fill and stroke settings, as that is what the Glowforge UI pays attention to when reading your image. At least I can say that my first item came out perfect on the first try! Though I did have an issue with the UI working properly in Firefox. Once I switched to Chrome, the issue disappeared. The software is still in development, so hopefully new features will be added, and bugs fixed in the near future. Print time for this small token was two and a half minutes.

I know a lot of you have been wondering if I would ever return to posting here. To which I say- yes, but maybe not soon, and probably not as often as I had been. I am currently working on one new project, but it may take a little while. It is already a month and a half behind schedule. I have one or two old projects that I wanted to post, but I never seem to find the time to take pictures of them. But this new laser cutter/engraver may just be the instigation I need to get moving again. I am already thinking of dozens of things to make with it. And I had better get started, 'cause it's going to take quite a while to recoup the cost of this machine.