Saturday, August 26, 2017

Laser-cut Wood & Leather Purse

I am in the process of learning how to finish laser-cut wood and leather.  I recently finished making a wooden purse for my mother, using an open source design by Scott Austin (CC BY SA).

If you are interested in open source designs, you may want to check out, a fantastic repository for Creative Commons licensed designs that may be produced with a laser cutter or CNC router.

The purse design calls for 1/4" hardwood; as a novice, I started with Baltic birch. While I was excited to get the pieces cut out (especially the living hinge) I learned that I should have modified the design to ensure that the size of the tabs matched up with the exact thickness of my wood.  I also discovered that it's important to pay attention to the direction of the wood grain when moving shapes around in Adobe Illustrator.  Since I didn't consider these things prior to cutting out the pieces, the wood grain lacks consistency and the tab connections look sloppier than I would have liked.

After gluing the purse together and sanding the wood, I used FW Pearlescent Liquid Acrylic Ink, in Birdwing Copper, to add color to the plywood.  Next time, I'll probably opt for a more traditional stain.


While the original purse design had holes for adding hardware and a handle, I had to come up with my own method for creating them.  Rather than ordering something online, I designed a closure and a handle in Inkscape and cut them out with a laser cutter.

After washing the char off of the leather with Murphy's oil soap, and allowing it dry overnight, I painted the leather pieces with Jacquard Neopaque Acrylic Paint in turquoise. After letting them dry, I attached them using double cap steel rivets.  I used E6000 to glue two leather disks to the purse, to serve as a raised button, which the ring slides over when the purse is closed.

By using turquoise and copper, I was trying to create a purse with a southwestern feel (that would match my mom's favorite pair of sandals).  Next time, I'll stick to a more subdued color pallet.


My next iteration (also Baltic Birch) turned out a little nicer.  The wood grain  is going in the correct direction and the tabs are a better fit.  I used a slightly larger version of the leather closure, which I prefer.  I applied a Minwax Gel Stain to the wood and black Jacquard Neopaque Acrylic paint to the leather.  Next time, I plan to use a higher quality wood.

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