After a year of having my GF and learning from this wonderful community how to use the tools to design for laser cutting, I finally decided to start posting my creations (other than simple things like coasters and rulers).

My best friend is celebrating his 60º birthday and I wanted to make him a custom gift that would remind him where he came from, and how much he had achieved to get where he was now.

I came up with an idea that I called LifeMap which is basically a set of panes with relevant maps of places and dates, with discreet markers to identify locations important only to him.

I store purchased an appropriate sized shadow frame and sized the panes around that. I then created simplified black and white maps using Snazzymaps, image traced them in illustrator, cleaned the redundant lines, removed color, and placed in a solid frame with the name of the place and the date.

Using medium maple plywood, the maps are scored at a very low power because of the closeness of the lines. The frame and letters are engraved at a slightly higher power, just enough to slightly mark the veneer of the plywood without burning through to the next ply. The markers are also engraved, and the final process was to cut the perimeter of the pane.

I made several tests with other materials like painted acrylic and white melamine panelboard, and also painting the markers with red nail polish, but decided to stick with the simplicity and elegance of plain unstained wood.

I added a scored dedication on the back. I am very pleased with the result and I think my friend appreciated it because he actually hung it in his home.


How cool is it to have the ability to customize such a gift? A new superpower!
Nice work.
What a great inscription. :sunglasses:


What a cool idea!

I kinda want one for me, except it would take up a whole wall, so I guess maybe not. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Thank you very much. I agree that the GF allows you to transform ordinary objects into personalized gifts that people really appreciate and cherish.

1 Like

What a fantastic and original idea! The inscription is an extra special touch, It is nice to have a friend, but even nicer to have a friend with a laser! Great job! I agree with @geek2nurse - I kinda want one, too! Hmmm…


A very cool idea, beautifully implemented. Anyone would be thrilled to display it in their home!


Very, very nice gift.


Looks like a great gift for a great friend.


This is such a thoughtful gift. I have no doubt that he loved it!

1 Like

Very cool idea and very well done!

1 Like

Thank you all for your input. I hope it inspires others into similar projects, just as I was with all the great work displayed by Glowforgers in this forum.

Very inspirational!

Love the concept, the execution, and especially the inscription.

Looks great

Very cool concept. I’m surprised he only gets 4 maps for his 60 years on Earth. How did you pick just 4?

These are the places where he has spent at least 4 years of his life: where he was born, where he studied college, where he specialized, and where he married, raised his family and currently lives and works.

As a matter of fact I did mention to him that it was fortunate that the number of relevant places was an even number because it helped the symmetry of the design. I will have to think of something if he decides to retire to Florida. :rofl:


Pentagons can make impressive plaques…

1 Like

Now that´s an interesting idea I had not thought about @eflyguy. I have always liked pentagons, I might try something along that line.

1 Like

Reminds me of a gift for my sister! Did you happen to use my posts to help with the mapmaking? Always nice to see fellow cartographers making lovely gifts for the special people in their lives.

1 Like

Absolutely fantastic. Great job.