December '20

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A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N Y O U R L A S E R A T W O R K | B O B H A G E L TOOLS AND SOFTWARE TO COMPLEMENT YOUR LASER I f your laser is your primary tool, you will add to the types of projects you take on and products you produce over time. As you add capabilities, you will add tools and software to complement the lasering (rastering) and cutting (vectoring) your laser offers. How you expand your capabilities and skills will determine the usefulness of additional tools, computer hardware, and software. In the following article, I discuss many of the tools and software I found useful as I accepted a large variety of projects and produced products that included other primary equipment. For instance, I com- bined full-color prints with lasered prod- ucts. Software to help with color challeng- es became important to me, as well. Let's begin with tools. TOOLS As I focused my business on organizations that placed many perpetual plaque orders, some required custom plate layouts and even custom-made wood plaques and bases. For the custom wood plaques and bases, I partnered with local woodwork- ers to build the plaques and bases to my specifications. I still needed to lay out the multitude of plates, drill all the holes, and screw on the tiny screws the plates require. I found cardboard was the perfect inexpensive material to use as a drilling template, yet I still needed to drill holes to start the screws. Cordless drill/screwdriver. I found a cordless 12-volt drill had the flexibility and speed I needed for all sorts of jobs. I recommend purchasing an extra battery for large projects. If you use an electric drill/ screwdriver often, you may find changing bits between drills and screwdrivers slow and cumbersome. Consider hex drivers and drills with a mag- netic holder. They can be purchased in kits and allow for quick changeovers. Make sure you get a quality set that offers a tight fit of the hex base and the holder. A sloppy fit causes drilling and screwing problems and unwanted releases of the bit. Drill and screwdriver bits. A 3/32 drill bit is a perfect size to start holes for the tiny plaque screws. Brands that are high- quality include DeWalt and Milwaukee. Hardened steel lasts longer as thin ones easily break. It is best not to drill too deep but still allow the screws to screw into as much solid wood as possible. About a 1/16" depth is perfect. You can use a small rub- ber band on the drill to create a stop that can speed up the process. Many custom plaques require 48 or more plates (96 screw holes). I once pro- duced a plaque with 500 plates. I had to sit on the floor and drill 1,000 holes and screw all the plates on. It took the better part of a day and three days to recover. After drilling the holes, screwing on all the plates is another challenge. Handheld screwdrivers. If you can use screws made of steel, magnetic screwdriv- ers are useful to hold the screws. A few strong magnets to store with the screw- driver assures they stay magnetized and can increase the magnetization. A Brad Point drill bit (top) prevents sliding on slick surfaces and makes pinpoint accurate holes when preci- sion is needed. A 3/32 drill bit with a hex shank for quick changes (above) is a great size for starter holes for plaque screws. Both of these cordless screw- drivers are 12 volt, just different styles. They each have enough power for drilling and screwing in modest-size screws in wood. (All images courtesy Bob Hagel) 3 4 G R A P H I C S P R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M

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