Glowforge-made Japanese Manhole Cover Coasters!


So my wife has a weird habit of taking pictures of manhole covers when we travel… We haven’t traveled very much since Glowforge spun up, but we’d made a promise to my nephew to take him to the non-english-speaking country of his choice when he graduated high school. So in June, we dashed over to Japan.

We’d never been there, and my wife was delighted by their zeal for manhole cover design. Seriously, you should google “Japanese manhole covers” - they are amazing.

When we got back, I decided to turn some of her photos into coasters. Before and after pictures below. The wood is simple birch MDF plywood, and the white rings are acrylic (I sanded them to give a classier matte look and rounded edges).

Here’s a closeup of one:

Prototype Quick Disconnect Magnetic Vent Hose Coupler
Glowforge Test Request - Japanese manhole coasters
What will be your first real project?

Nice, what a great source of designs. I hope you all enjoyed your trip.


Thanks for sharing and giving me another great idea for projects.


How on earth did you prep the photos? (That gray on gray must have been a bear.)

Beautiful job! :smile:


Ah man these are great! I love multimaterial creations!


It was sadly a bunch of manual tracing effort in Illustrator (because I wanted to get it just right with crisp edges).


A man after my own heart…nothing can duplicate the human touch. :slight_smile:

(And that is one hell of a trace job!)


Love it. What a unique and fun memento!


Those are gorgeous!! :grinning::grinning:


Wow @Tony. Gorgeous. Raster engraved with Vector outlines? Are the acrylic rings just outline rings, or are they layered and glued with a full circle below? Inquiring minds want to know. :grin:

Beautiful tracing work and kerf management on the material mating. A great memento of your trip that is all the more meaningful because you made them.


A-mazing! I love the deep engrave on that wood.




@Tony, you have made a lot of people happy with this post. Not only because it shows some great engraving, but the source of design is absolutely the coolest. Gosh, if I had taken pics of the sewer lids I have seen. . . My favorite are from Rome, Italy.

By the way, Google images will make up for the lack of photos and travel.
SPQ*R, Senatus Populusque Romanus. I am sorry to admit that as Yanks, we often joked that it meant “Sono porci questi Romani”.
My first set of coasters will be based on this and @Tony will be credited with the find.


Roman drivers, yep, crazy! Never drive in Rome, or Paris and Athens is a bit scary too.


Just a simple raster engrave! The rings are rings-- just on the outside. I could’ve done an 1/8" deep engrave in an acrylic circle and layered 1/8" wood on top, which I suppose would’ve worked as well. :slight_smile:

I did do a circle of self-adhesive cork on the bottom for a little non-skid touch.


Oh wow. That’s super cool! Great idea from excellent inspiration, and fantastic execution.


These turned out amazing! :sunglasses: I have so many ideas for engraving that I can’t wait to laser with the Glowforge.

I Love the Glowforge Community. So many inspiring people and ideas! Thanks for sharing!


Japan is an incredible country, every landscape and detail is a piece of art. Hopefully I’ll go again next year.


These are fantastic! Plus what a great gift idea!

I too am in love with Japan. Will go back there in March for the fifth time!



Your wife is not alone… I do that too! :joy: I confess I’ve never seen any as beautiful as those Japanese ones though!