Thursday, March 25, 2010

another furoshiki technique..neat

little land merchandise?:)

I was just thinking..

little land in the making

I was daydreaming of a finished set of little land..a neat looking box with yummy looking pieces, all packaged in lovely fabric, Furoshiki style (check previous posts on packaging). I could imagine a little brown tag with minimal graphics lasercut..sigh..
I wanted to extend the little land illustration to its branding/identity.
A quick mood board of the colour swatches and what i visualized:

box making

Today i decided on the box for little land. I wanted a box where the lid/top is the little land base with the grooves. I met a carpenter and gave him the dimensions and the specifications. He first said he'll make the box in wood and then attach the grooved surface on the top because MDF may not have a good finish like wood. This would cost me about 2.5-3k!!I almost fell off my chair. Told him that i needed everything in MDF and at minimal cost. I asked him to make 2 different kinds of boxes and 1 of those in MDF and 1 in wood. Lets see how that turns out. Dont even want to think about the cost..ugh..the things one needs to do to make the perfect toy..
Here are the types of boxes:

I wanted the lid to be such that one side has the grooves and the other is plain so that it can be slid open and turned to the plain side when little land is not in use. The box will be used to keep the pieces(little land shapes). The dimensions i specified were:
height= 8 inch
width=11 inch
thickness=1.5 inches(excluding the 1 inch grooved surface)

grooves on the lid:
space between the grooves=2.5 cms
thichness of groove=4mm

This the second type of box, where again the grooved surface itself forms the lid. can be opened and closed but cannot be detached and changed like the above example.
I asked him to work with the same dimensions.

He said these 2 pieces would be ready in 2 days after which i can make changes or finalize before making several units. I hope everything turns out the way i imagine it or better.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MDF it is!^-^

Today i went to the laser cutter again! but returned satisfied this time:) I got quite a few pieces cut today-this time on MDF. I was really happy to see how it turned out!

It cut neatly, although they said it takes a bit longer to cut mostly because of its thickness(4mm). The pieces didn't look as flimsy and breakable as the ones cut in rubber wood.

The cool thing was the burnt edges! When i got wood laser cut, no matter how much i wiped it, some of the black soot would still rub off onto whatever it came into contact with and also it remained half worn out(stains of clack/brown here and there-not uniform in color). Whereas with MDF, when i wiped it once, it would still remain uniformly black but wouldnt rub off.

The pieces look quite nice. I also asked him to cut me a shape from veneer but he couldnt do it for long because the veneer sheet was prone to bending which was causing problems for cutting.

I was there for about 1.5 hrs. I used up a little less than 1.5 sheets(12*24 inches each) of MDF and got about 30-35 pieces.

The negatives of the shapes looked good too. When they finished cutting all the pieces, the brought the pieces and the board with the negative cutouts and to my surprise started fixing the pieces back into the cutouts!They said it was an easy but fun puzzle:D

The burnt edges looked the same before and after cleaning:

The negative cutouts:

Monday, March 22, 2010

moving on...MDF

So after looking at my options, i decided to go with MDF for this stage. In my initial prototype, i used MDF for the base and it looked quite good. Today i went 4mm small size MDF hunting. Every wood vendor said id have to buy the entire sheet which was 8*4 ft for Rs.400 and be a waste since i dont need so much!I finally found someone who agreed to give me the size i needed. He gave me a 4*2 ft for Rs.100. I also need 19mm MDF for the base(he said in that range, either 18mm or 25 mm was available)so he agreed to cut me the required size(which i now need to determine) instead of having to buy the entire sheet.


MDF is made from wood and other lingo cellulosic material refined into fibre and reconstituted with a resin binder. It's superior edge qualities and machineability characteristics, which combined with smooth finish and superior paintability make MDF ideal for high quality furniture applications. It is ideal for all furniture applications, children's toys, for interior application like snooker tables, paneling, partitioning, cupboards, TV cabinet, etc.

Its major characteristics:

1. Can be shaped, molded, joined, rebated, turned and grooved like solid timber

2. Finely sanded on both sides for easy finishes like painting, lamination, veneering

3. No splinter, free from knots and cracks

4. homogeneous strength in all directions

5. No warping

Tomorrow i'm going to get my first batch of pieces cut in MDF!I hope it turns out okay.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I was thinking of other ways of packaging little land. I was trying to come up with ways to wrap up the pieces in the case of the base being a table top. When i was little(even now!), everytime i bought something new, from a board game to stationary i would be so excited to open it up. So i wanted to add an element of surprise to this 'experience' of opening something new:) I wanted several layers or pockets and this is something i found, very similar to what i was thinking!!

I also tried to do the same with some leftover party decoration-stips of colored crepe paper just to get an idea of how it would shape up with pieces of such varied shapes and sizes. i did a quick version:

Friday, March 19, 2010

veneer marquetry!!

During my visit to several wood shops i saw long thin wooden beadings. These had some designs on them. It wasnt the design that caught my eye but i was curious to know what technique was used to do that. They said they didnt know how but just that it came like that from China!Just today i found out what its called and how its done!Its called Marquetry and its beautiful!

Marquetry is the art of inlaying different woods, and other natural materials to create a picture. To inlay is to set a material onto another surface, but recessed in so that inlayed material is at the same level as the surface. Most of the time the inlayed material is wood but it could be ivory, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shells, bark, straw, stone, metal, gems, etc. All the peculiarities, grain, knots, defects, etc. are used in the overall effect of the picture. Marquetry is often found on the finest furniture. It has been around for thousands of years, and today is considered something of a dying art. Making these beautiful pictures is a long tedious process. Each piece has to be cut out with the utmost attention to detail. Then they have to be assembled, recut, and so on. For the finest works of art 10,000 man-hours is not unheard of. The pieces are normally cut a variety of ways. For thin wood veneers, a sharp hobbyist knife is often used. Various types of copping and jeweler saws are also employed, but most modern work is done with an electric scroll and band saws, routers, lasers. The process of picking, cutting, placing, and gluing can take forever. The majority of people who do this, do it as a hobby!

just when i thought everything was sorted!

Unbelievable but it happened!I spoke to John yesterday:)I explained the concept behind little land and spoke to him about the problems related to wood and lasercutting. He said that there's a possibility of any wood breaking, not just the finger jointed rubber wood. He said that plywood might be a good option at this point.
About laser cutting,he said it is the best option as the CNC tools are a minimum of 3mm thick which wouldn't cut details like laser cutting. I also spoke to someone else who does laser cutting in Malleshwaram. They said they charge between Rs.8-12 depending on the material. They can only cut a few types of wood and only upto 3mm. So im going to stick with the other one(Vinayaka Laser cutters). Today, I visited some wood shops and they all said its very hard to cut any wood to 4 mm, so plywood(both sides same) or vineer(they suggested the one with teak wood laminate on one side,plain plywood on the other) might be good. I visited alot of places looking for the ideal 4mm waterproof commercial plywood. None of them seemed to have it, they all said it was very rarely used, it started at 6mm. But they did say i could find it, and it would cost anywhere between Rs.25-35/sq ft depending on the type, which would be a little more than Rs.1000 for the available size!UGH!

By the end of this 'spree', i narrowed down to 3 options:

1. Plywood - (if 4mm is available and it a smaller size than 8*4!)or cheap looking plywood(not water proof) which will be much cheaper(around Rs.350) for the entire board.

2. Vineer - I can get any finish i want on one side(oak,teak,etc) and plain plywood on the other side. This might be an expensive option, unless i go to a whole lota wood places and ask them each for the same sample..collect enough for my toy.

3. MDF - not a very good option as the edges will definately fray while continuous sliding,fixing,removing from the grooves of the base and its certainly not waterproof BUT this is easily available and cheaper and might make a good prototype.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

first batch laser cut

Yesterday i went to get the pieces laser cut. There were a couple of things that went wrong:

1.Apparently the pieces that i had got cut earlier, were not uniformly cut except for 1 slab. Before cutting, they need to set the thickness of the material and so many pieces wern't cut due to variation of thickness of wood within the same piece!

2.Also some pieces were harder than the others because of which it took longer to cut a piece which meant it burnt it alot more. Some pieces were cut alright but due to the burn, there was black soot around it. This looked really nice BUT it would start rubbing onto anything it came into contact with. So i tried using sand paper to sand off the edges to make the pieces cleaner and less messy.

3.Also some pieces which were a little delicate, along with the heat of the laser, began to bend the wood. I paid Rs. 150(which is the minimum cost) for the pieces i got cut. This cost varies with material and time it takes to cut it.

but the ones that were cut well, looked yummy:) The negative shapes looked really good too and could be used as stencils , window frames etc.
I think i might look at using plywood again.

Edges after cutting, covered in black soot:

The edges after sanding a little:

The negatives:)

ready to cut!

I made 3 panels with vectors of the shapes i want to get laser cut. This had to be only outlines(no color fill) and in coreldraw or an eps format, which was compatible with my laser cutter. The dimensions of each panel were the same as the planks of rubber wood i got cut earlier(65cm*10cm).These pieces were 4 mm thick. I placed it in a way i reduce wastage and get the most number of pieces from each panel!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

wood warping and distortion??!

Woodworkers call the change in shape of a piece of wood warp. And it takes several common forms, all of which distort the wood.
1.Bow, describes the lengthwise curvature for board-end to end along its face.

2.Twist, means that all of a boards corners won't lie equally flat.

3.Crook, all the curvature runs end to end alone its edge.

4.Cup, is when a board no longer flat from edge to edge. Cup always occurs in the opposite direction of a flatsawn board's annual growth rings.

Although not a distortion like any form of warp,
5.Checking refers to the Small splits along the grain. You'll most often see checks in the ends of boards but they can occur on surfaces too. This is due to the fact that wood dries 10 times faster along it length compared to drying across the width.

wood defects!O.o

I saw various defects in wood during my research but didnt really know what all of them were called except for knots and splits:)i came across these terms:

Knots are limbs separated from the tree trunk during tree growth.
Wane is bark on the edge of a board.
Pitch Pocket is an opening in a board containing pitch.
Splits is the tearing apart of wood cells due to improper storage or handling.
Checks are the lengthwise separation of wood due to shrinkage.

dry wood?

There are a few other concerns i need to think about since im working with wood..ugh!..I remember Gautam telling me it takes almost a month for a wood to completely dry, due to lack of time i should look for wood which has already been dried.

Water occurs in wood in two places, First, theirs the free water that fills the inside of the wood cells. That's like water in a bucket. Second, water also infiltrates the cell walls. That's called bound water. Imagine squeezing a piece of cotton Cheeses cloth until all the free water is drained away. The cloth though, remains damp because the material continues to contain moisture-the bound water.

When wood contains bound water its is said to be in its fiber saturation point. And the bound water can be eliminated completely only by drying it. Somewhere with no relative humidity, as in an air-tight oven.

Wood likes water, wood rates as a hygroscopic substance. Thai is it has ans affinity for water and readily absorbs it as a liquid and vapor. This ability directly deepens on the humidity of the surrounding atmosphere. therefore the amount of moisture is wood changes as the humidity changes.

The term Kiln-Dried means that wood moisture was removed in a chamber where air circulation, humidity and temperature were controlled.

joinery techniques

I wanted to make the base of the little land bigger than the initial prototype where the base was 9*9 inches. I realized that the surface area was too small to build upon. Nikita made an observation at Jaaga where i exhibited little land, she said when kids played with it due to the small surface area, they began asking her to hold the pieces separately around the base, trying to expand the area. So i thought of things:

1. Having a base the size of a small table so kids could sit around and move fix many more pieces and freely move them around.

2. Have 2 or more small bases (maybe 10*10 inches) which can be fixed together to create a larger area. So for this i have been looking at a few joinery techniques:

1. Butt Joint
For this common and simple joint the end of one piece of wood is simply placed against the adjoining piece, forming a right angle. The two pieces can be fastened with screws, glued or dry dowels, or sometimes staples.

2. Box Joint or Finger Joint
Connects two boards at the corners. It is very strong and is often utilized in boxes, such as blanket chests and jewelery boxes, because of its decorative look.

3. Half-lap Joint
It is merely the process of joining two pieces of wood together by removing half of the width from each board so that they completely overlap each other when joined. A very strong and very visually appealing joint.

4. Doweled Joint
It is merely a butt joint that uses wooden dowels to help align and strengthen the bond between two boards. Often times a doweled joint is made into a very visually appealing joint by passing the dowels completely through the side piece and sanding them flush with the surface.

5. Spline Joint
It is achieved by inserting a strip of wood into two corresponding grooves cut into two matching boards. A spline joint is often used to strengthen a butt or miter joint and can add a lot of visual appeal by using contrasting colors of woods.

6. Doweled Joint
It is merely a butt joint that uses wooden dowels to help align and strengthen the bond between two boards. Often times a doweled joint is made into a very visually appealing joint by passing the dowels completely through the side piece and sanding them flush with the surface.

7. Rabbet and Dado Joints
These are simple joints that create an incredibly strong bond by inserting one piece of wood into a groove or channel in another piece of wood. This joint is the backbone of cabinet box and bookcase construction.

8. Raised Panel Joint or Frame and Panel Joint
It is the primary method of constructing cabinet doors. Each panel consists of two vertical stiles running the complete height of the door, two rails that run the overall width of the door minus the width of the two stiles, and a center panel. This joinery technique creates a large panel that is unaffected by environmental changes, because the center panel floats between the rails and stiles, and is able to expand and contract without affecting the other pieces. There are hundreds of different router details that can be used on the rails, stiles, and doors, to create a look as fancy or as simple as desired.

9. Mortise and Tenon Joint
It is one of the strongest and most widely used joinery methods in woodworking. The joint is simple, it merely attaches two pieces by inserting a tenon into a mortise, but there are a multitude of applications and variations that are employed throughout woodworking. This joint is a staple in the building of chairs, tables, cabinet doors, and paneling.

10. Miter Joint
It is a simple and easy way to connect any two pieces of wood together at any angle necessary. Simply cut each edge to half the overall angle and join together using glue, nails, or screws. The miter joint, like the butt joint, is not very strong, but is quick and simple to make.


I made vectors of some shapes that i will be giving for laser cutting tomorrow as a trial batch. After this ill know if the proportions work, the amount of detail i could give, the cost etc. Once this is determined, i can go ahead with the rest! This is one step closer to making the final prototype!yay!:)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


A littler version of little land that can be worn on a finger!:)‘Handscapes’ are the creation of jewellery and product designer Zelda Beachampet. The design features
small individual rings that each have a different icon on top. Depending on the order and position of the
rings different landscapes are created. The rings come in preset arrangements or the user can pick their
favourite three icon s and make their own personal handscape.

Rings by uk-design company Soop

Sunday, March 7, 2010

great book!

Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design

Chris Lefteri


Yesterday i went to India Wood 2010 at BIEC, Peenya. Its an international exhibition of woodworking machinery, tools, fittings,accessories, raw materials and products. It was really great!Although i was a little upset as i spent almost all of my time in the machinery sections and didnt have much time in the raw material section(what i originally went for!). But anyways it was a really good experience. I saw processes i had been reading about, i also showed my little land prototype to a lot of people and got their suggestions and feedback!

Here the machine is being used to laminate mdf cabinet doors. It was a really interesting procedure. I'm not sure what the process is called but i had read about something similar, called Thermoforming.

There were several stalls working the CNC router. It was great to watch the intricate designs it was capable of producing,not so great to watch the wood wastage!! I spoke to some of them and showed them the little land prototype and told them i was planning to use laser cutting. They said a CNC would be able to cut it easily and it wouldnt even burn the edges and make it black like the laser cutter. He said that it costs about Rs.200-300/sq ft, or Rs.500-600/hr to cut using a CNC router.

HonECOre is an eco-friendly bio-degradable and non toxic paper honeycomb
made out of recycled and recycleable craft paper to provide the best quality , longetivity and dimentional stability to your products. HonECOre is an extremely versatile product that allows you to replace many core materials used today in a economic and eco-friendly fashion. Being a paper product, it is easy to work with, harmless in handling, dimensionally stable .It also exhibits dual properties of being flexible and high strength depending on the application or the process of application.

There was an entire hall of wood dealers!lots and lots of amazing looking American Hardwoods! They had everything-Alder, Ash, Cherry, Hard Maple, Soft Maple, Red Oak, White Oak, Tulipwood, Walnut etc. Ofcourse they were expensive options, and so i spoke to some of them asking them whhat they thought i should use. The really liked the idea and suggested Teak if i wanted a really high end quality product or something like Beech wood which is not very expensive, easy to work with, and although its a really light colored wood it was be dyed to pretty much any color. There was also a stall on compressed bamboo which i missed!:(

This really excite me:) It was a really cool router for sanding. The sand paper were circular in shape and attached to the router using a really thin and soft velcro for easy/quick changing. Its great to watch them work it, makes the surface sooooo smooth!If i go ahead with laser cutting, ill probably need to sand(with a different sander though) the edges to get rid of the black soot after laser cutting.

India Wood exposed me greatly to several tools and processes and alot of other things that i didnt have much knowledge about and is really new to me. Awesome!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

i got me wood..lalala:)

So i got some rubberwood cut for Lakshmi timbers. Now i can give it to the laser cutter to get some pieces made to get an idea of whether it works in rubberwood or if i need to try the same using a different wood type. Each of the pieces i got sliced were of 4mm thickness. This was done using the process iv mentioned in the previous post.

I asked them how much the same thing(4*2 ft wood,cutting and plaining) would cost for the 4 different wood types, using the same procedure, including the labor cost etc, to compare. This is what he said:

Rubber - Rs. 103

Beach - Rs. 150

Australian Honne - Rs. 165

Teak - Rs. 215

lakshmi timbers

Today i visited another wood supplier in Yelahanka, Lakshmi timbers. This place had wood i could get in smaller quantities! So now i hopefully dont have to go all the way to Bamboo Bazaar to inquire about every little thing. There wasnt much of a price difference either. The different woods i looked at were Rubber wood, Teak, Beach, Australian Honne. The smallest size he had was 4*2 ft. I asked him to slice it into pieces of 3 mm thickness each but they said it would chip and break if they made it any thinner than 4 mm. They cut it into 5 pieces using a wood cutting machine and then passed them through the plaining machine to smoothen it. Each piece was 4mm thick.

He said there may be chances of the toy pieces breaking if i used any of the above woods and that it would be best for me to use Silver wood(it's cheaper too).
I also got samples of Teak and Beach. I spent a total of Rs. 190 there. This was mostly because i had them cut very little, specifically for which they had to turn on the machines. My heart ached to see the amount of power and wood wasted in the process :(

Band saw:

Wood plaining machine:

designing for re-use

Lately i have been looking at all kinds of packaging and reading up on it a whole lot.Here's a great book Anders suggested,that i'm reading right now:
Designing for Re-Use
The Life of Consumer Packaging
By Tom Fisher and Janet Shipton

I pretty much ignored the reuse aspect of packaging until now even though its all around! This book began to change that. I think this is a very important aspect that one needs to know of before looking at designing packaging.

Packaging is ephemeral - its purpose is to be "wasted" once we've removed the product it contains. The re-use of packaging could have a significant effect on the quantity of material that enters the waste stream and the energy and consequently carbon that is expended in its production - every re-used item is another item not purchased. The book shows that by understanding the ways in which actions of this sort fit with everyday life, opportunities may be identified to enhance the potential for re-use through packaging design. The authors itemize the factors that affect the re-use of packaging, and analyse the home as a system in which objects are processed.

helping hands:)

I asked my classmates to make pieces that they would like in little land.They made their own house,tree,car:)it was a sweet exercise.i did this to see what others came up with and i also wanted to break away from my usual style of drawing curves and things!:)it was another way of brainstorming.These are some of the things they cut out: