Laser Thursday: "check the obvious things" keychains!

My Laser Thursday project tonight was to frantically make little presents for some friends of mine I’ll be seeing tomorrow. When I left my last job, I left behind a team I really worked well with and I definitely miss them. There’s a tech conference tomorrow in town that a group of them decided to go to – partially on my recommendation since I went last year and it was great. When I realized a couple months ago that so many were going, I knew I had to make them something. Being me, though, I put it off until nearly the last minute!

One of the my personal slogans is “check the obvious things” – my first official laser thursday project was to make a basic sign with that on it. My old team members know that slogan well as I had a (boring) paper sign of it up near my desk and, more importantly, would ask them obvious questions when they came to me with problems. :slight_smile:

So I decided I should make something with that theme. Here we are:

It’s late so I have to be a bit quick describing this.

Materials: Padauk with a single coating of spray shellac and a regular metal keychain ring.
Design: You’ve seen this keychain fob before in pictures. For this one, @Shell slightly changed the shape for me and then I added the main slogan fitted to a curve parallel that end of the fob. The decorative bits below it are the same slogan but in some random wingdings-like font that Illustrator had. This struck me as a good programmer joke.

On the way I learned a few more illustrator / drawing skills and now I know how to apply spray shellac!


Great little project and if you will get me my GF here in time I will make several for my crew for my day job, which is at night… We are hardware people and you’d be amazed at how often “did you check the circuit breaker?” yields positive results.


Brilliant! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Very nice! I’m sure they will be a hit!
Thanks for the inspiration.

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I learn from the forum all the time. Who knew from spray shellac?:slight_smile:

Cool. Really has astonishing detail with the little icons.

Does one shellac before or after lasering? I imagine it makes a big difference in how the letters burn in?


That is EPIC!!!

Either works well.


Thanks. I think one of the first things I will make will be a set of prints of those standardized laser test patterns from Thingiverse and then try different materials and finishes. I imagine the combinations of material x laser settings x finish produce a staggering array of looks and feels. I’ve learned similar things with 3D printing (like some of the natural printing materials like Entwined change color over a 10 degree range radically). It will be a fun learning experience.

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Could you shoot me a link? I don’t know what you’re referring to.

Probably something like this:

though probably meant:

edit: hmmmm, doesn’t carry over the images in a shared link to a post.


@wesleyjames beat me to it, in addition:


Trying to decide of all test patterns what is the most helpful before my making my own template that would be like that wood one but with folder tabs so they can be looked through by people.
But those little ones are cute too heh.

With Proofgrade materials wouldn’t the need to run a test pattern be lessened if not eliminated?

They look very nice, but as a woodworker I wonder if they won’t break along the grain at the holes for the key ring?


Yeah, Shell warned me when we were putting the rings on that we could snap it there, but that it seems to hold up okay once on. I guess I’ll find out – I have one on my key chain now. :slight_smile:

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I bought a couple of key rings on our last Hawaii vacation that were laser cut and engraved out of some sort of local wood and it didn’t take long for them to break apart. Those were pretty thing, though, maybe 1/8-in maximum…

Not necessarily! :slight_smile: Though the proofgrade materials will come with pre-determined settings, templates like those shown are really great for being able to quickly visualize how changing up those settings will affect your material. Especially when engraving, having a sample sheet showing what 10% power looks like versus 100% can be suuuper helpful rather than running a bunch of tests beforehand to see how dark/light of an engraving you can get.

The way I’m imagining proofgrade’s use right now is that I’ll know without a doubt it can be safely used inside a glowforge, and hopefully the pre-determined cut setting will cut all the way through on the first try.


I’m also imagining that if I run off a sample sheet on one piece of proofgrade material those speeds/intensities will look the same on another sheet of that proofgrade material.

If I’m using some random stuff and color is really important, I would have to do a test pattern on the same sheet I’m cutting the real work from.


Yes! You might still want a few samples to see what the material looks like at e.g. 50% engraved, but you don’t need the iterative-cuts-until-it-works bit.