Friday, 15 July 2011

Hand Carved & Laser Etched Cigar Ashtrays.

Sam Leccia 'Debut'
The Nub
I have been smoking hand rolled cigars for several years and one of my favourite cigars is the Nub, designed by Sam Leccia. When I found out that he was starting his own cigar business I was excited to find out the type of cigars that Sam would design and make. I thought that it would be nice to try and design a cigar ashtray to commemorate in some small way the launch of his first cigar named aptly the 'Debut'.

I wanted to try something original  and hopefully unique. My mind wandered to an article that I had read on the Internet some time ago about resin filling of carved out designs on a knife handles. I thought that if I could place a design into the trays and resin fill the image it would be a total one off. My next thought was what would the art work be? and how indeed would I carve it into the tray. I quickly realised that I would not have the required precision to carve the design in a way that would accept the resin to leave a crisp and good image.

An example piece of Rich's great work.
Understanding that I could not complete the task I enlisted the help of Rich Girling from the forum. Rich Girling has completed some fantastic work using laser techniques. I approached him with my thoughts about the planned project. Rich made comment that he had never lasered designs into wood before and saw this as a challenge for him and so the project burst into life.

Test sample
The art work / designs that where going to be used for the project was the next challenge. I knew part of the art work that I wanted on and that was the word 'Debut' as this was the name of his new line of cigars. I looked at Sam's art work for his new company which included his signature and company logo. They looked fantastic. So I decided that these three designs would form the art work for the trays. The next step would be to send the art work to Rich to see if they would be suitable for lasering, he cast his expert eyes over the designs and said that it was possible but commented that we would have to do some test pieces. However, the he said that the wood needed to be flat, know bearing in mind I use knife and axe to carve and straighten my work this presented an issue for me. So for the first time I planned the top of the work surface.

Test sample
I produced two pieces of cherry wood samples and sent them to Rich for work. I required the depth of the cuts to be at least 4mm deep to hold and accept the resin. Rich said he might struggle to get that depth!! anyway three days later I received an email with pictures attached, he had made the required depth with ease. Rich was excited at how well the art work had come out on the two sample wood pieces. I could not believe how good they looked. When they arrived they where even better than the pictures. It soon became clear too the both of us that perhaps the lasered work would look better not filled with resin.


When the test pieces arrived I cleaned them up and applied a sanding sealer and placed two coats of finish to them. I was so pleased to see the results that I decided that we would not place resin filler in the work. I then sat and thought the way ahead for the Sam Leccia hand carved, laser etched cigar ashtray. As people who carve in wood appreciate wood is a living thing even when dead, to that end I chose too carve three different types of tray originally nicknamed the MK I,II & III. I carved the first one and sent it off for lasering and of course the end of the tray checked whilst working on it. Despite the check, the completed the work looked the business.

MKI after laser work

I then completed some remedial work to the check and actually although the small repair looks obvious in the flesh its not too bad on the completed tray.

Start of the MKII
The MKII portion of wood was a little different had a small spur it was thicker and had more general character about it. Underneath and to the side it had a small nick from a chainsaw which I quite liked too. Once the carving commenced it was obvious to me that this was potentially to be tray that I was going to send to Sam as a gift, barring any unforeseen accidents, off it went up North for work I asked for a little more laser work to the bottom.

When it arrived back I was sure that it was the one I finished the piece and my it looked fantastic.

On completion of carving

Art work applied

I started on the final tray the MKIII when I began to carve my heart was not really in it and so things started to go wrong. I applied myself and the work forced me to concentrate and after a long period of time what seemed to be a lost cause began to come right.  The MKIII was beginning to come alive to the point where I rather like the tray. I await the arrival of the lasered MkIII which will be different to the others, watch this space.
All 3 trays the MKIII
The reasoning for producing three trays really was two fold one to ensure I made a gift that I was happy to send to Sam, secondly should Sam actually not like the design or shape of the tray he could have the pick of two other designs. All of the hand carved, laser etched cigar ashtrays are made from cherry wood that came from a tree that suffered storm damage a few years ago from a limb that fell to the ground in a private country house estate.

I have to say that I just love the work that Rich has completed on the trays and felt almost heart broken to let any of the work go. I generally like all of my work as it takes so much effort to make a cigar tray that I want to keep hold of them!!

Completed tray with Sam's Cigar.


 MKIII finished

 MK III in a beautiful presentation box.

So the project has come to a succesful conclusion all that remains is to send the MK II tray to my friend Rich. Thanks for reading

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