Interest Check: "Hack From Home" Workshop on More Advanced Laser Cutter Techniques / Marquetry

Hey VHS folks! I had been prepping some work for an eventual workshop back before the whole pandemic thing ground things to a halt. This prevented me from starting some larger pieces using the technique to show them off in context, so my examples are the small test panels I’ve made

I really want to see some VHS events start happening again, and trying to come up with some ways of adapting to limited numbers of people in the space.

I have some thoughts about how I could run this as “Hack From Home Workshop” sessions, but there’s a fair bit of extra work for me involved, so I want to check that there’s at enough folks interested.


Workshop Topic: Advanced Laser Techniques And Veneer Marquetry

This workshop will focus on some topics for the laser cutter not covered in the laser cutter orientation training, and use them with some traditional woodworking practices to give participants some skills they can apply to level up the look of their laser cut projects!

Here’s an example piece of the type we’d be making:

You can see some involved Examples of more traditional approaches with the same family of techniques - many of the things they do also apply to laser cut projects.

I’d love to have the opportunity to show you the pieces in person, because they look really cool, and you can feel how seamless it is but you’ll have to take my word for it :laughing:. This is a technique that involves laser cutting thin wood veneers very precisely, then laying them out and glueing them to laser cut plywood panels.

Some things we’ll cover:

  • working and designing with plane covering tesselations, like the funky MC Escher Lizard design
  • controlled orientation and material layout planning
  • lasering and fixturing for extremely thin materials
  • determining and compensating for the non-zero thickness of the laser
  • buying veneer and related terminology
  • prepping cut veneer layouts for glueup
  • using the new vacuum press to attach the veneers to the panels
  • sanding considerations (can you spot the “learning marks” on the test piece above?)

Some benefits of these techniques is that it meshes in with traditional woodworking approaches - there’s hundreds of years of history and craft working with veneer in more simple layouts, so I think this is a very cool thing that I’ll be using to ornament furniture or box projects. It is also quite inexpensive for materials! allowing for very fancy looking results without the expense of hardwood.

I think some of us (myself included) have gotten a little jaded about the laser etched plywood look. I went looking for this as a way for similar detail control, but classier looking results.


How I’d see this working for a remote workshop:

My thought was to run this as two couple hour interactive group sessions via videocall, plus some recorded videos, and then about a single solo session at VHS for folks to finish the project.

We’re not currently running laser orientation training, because of the situation. But because I’d be doing all the cutting, if you aren’t trained on the VHS laser, you’d still be able to participate in the workshop, and get trained later.

It would work like this:

  • Session 1 would be a video call for computer work. I’d cover the theory behind the design we’re doing and the plan for the laser work. We would all work on our individual designs during the call - sharing our work, and talking through issues and ideas. We’d use Inkscape (free, open source) and possibly a little bit of Fusion360, although that might just be a demo. Following the session, everyone would send me the files they created.

  • I would laser everyone’s designs on the cutter, and record some videos (and do instruction voiceover) for applying the laser cutter techniques I discussed in the first session. I’d either deliver (contact free dropoff) or folks could pickup. I’d also prep the quantities of the other needed materials

  • Session two would be a video call ~ a week later. I have a fairly elaborate multi-camera home video call/streaming setup, so I can demo how to prepare the cutout veneers, then we’d all assemble our own. This will take a while!

  • I’d prep additional videos on how to prep for glueup and use the vacuum press I bought for the space.

  • At participants convenience, they’d schedule time at VHS, and come down and follow the steps for gluing and use the vacuum press to glue up their piece.


So, is this something folks would be interested in doing?

The plus and minus here is that all the video work would be a fairly large time commitment on me to run this way instead of a traditional workshop, but would be re-usable for multiple rounds of the workshop without additional work.

The materials involved are relatively cheap, and the bulk of the equipment I’ve already purchased for VHS to complete my projects. I’m willing to donate my time, but I would probably need to be pricing this more like a project workshop-not-at-VHS than our traditional really cheap workshop rates, with all money going to VHS.

Without committing myself just yet, expect member pricing somewhere in the range of $75-$150, depending on how many people/how many sessions I need to run.

If you’re interested in this Hack From Home Workshop, could you post in this thread? If you have immediate friends outside VHS who would be super into this, feel free to send it their way, but I need to get some commitment before I throw up more public advertising around it.

6 Likes
  • Interested!
  • Not Interested, But felt like clicking an option in the poll anyways!
  • Maybe Interested, but need more details

0 voters

I’m interested in your project. What scale of project do you see this being usable on, based on the vacuum press?

Wow, that looks amazing, very much something I’d love to join! I love tessellations, especially non-periodic ones (Penrose style, John Conway who recently passed away from covid did some very cool ones). Definitely count me in.

Ignacio

2 Likes

I hit the wrong button! I’m interested.

2 Likes

I’m in!

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The bag I bought is 26" × 28".

Scaling up beyond that should be relatively strait-forward if anyone wants to - it’s a big vinyl bag with a one way valve, so so making a custom larger one wouldn’t be too difficult.

Okay, It looks from the poll like there’s enough interest for this to be viable! Thanks everyone for being open to giving things a try.

I’ll get a proper registration page up soon, and a doodle to figure out the best timing for folks.

2 Likes

Thanks for doing this!