Eritrean Alphabet Magnets

A co-worker asked if I could make magnets of the Eritrean alphabet so he could teach his daughter the alphabet he grew up with. I accepted assuming it had ~30 letters. I was wrong. I had really just accepted producing 281 magnets!

Build

I found the font on Wikipedia and set out creating the files in Inkscape. The files are laid out so that 9 magnets fit within the laserable area of All Hands Active's laser cutter. It's about a 10"x12" area in total but I try to stay within that. The 24 files are included below along with copies of the files that have the letters converted to paths and rotated so that laser will orient it properly.
The wood purchased was 24 12x12 squares of 3mm baltic birch from woodcraft. Conviently they ship for $10 which is equivalent to the cost in gas it takes me to drive to their nearest store!
The laser was run at 55% power and 100% speed to raster each of the files. To cut the files only the red outline was vector cut doing 3 passes at 30% speed and 100% power. For all settings the laser cutter was limited to 15ma power. I noticed that after 5-6 boards the laser mirrors would need to be cleaned otherwise it could no longer cut.
The magnet sheeting is the thickest sheeting I was able to find in a large roll. The sheeting was cut with a knife into tiles slightly smaller than the size of the magnets. Sheeting was significantly cheaper and a stronger magnet than any self adhesive or business card magnets I could purchase. Rare earth magnets were originally considered but since they were for a young child we had a fear she might try to eat them.
The wood tiles were sanded on all 4 sides by putting them in a vice and taking a random orbit sander with 100 grit pads to them
After sanding and dusting the sheeting was glued to the back by spraying 3M 90 fast dry adhesive on both the back of the magnet sheet and the back of the wood. Magnets were pressed and dried for 8-10 minutes.

Timing

  • 40 hours - Time to layout files for laser use
  • 25 hours - Time cleaning and lasering files
  • 2.5 hours - Sanding
  • 4 hours - cutting magnet sheeting
  • 5 hours - gluing

Cost

  • $40 - 24 sheets wood
  • $30 - Roll of magnet sheeting
  • $12 - Can of glue
  • $200 - Laser time

Downloads:

Link - Image files

Photos: