The pooled gift for Steve’s birthday was cash, but I wanted to add something a bit more fun. Steve has a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar and I took on the challenge to make a mini version that uses magnets to hold the cash. After cutting and assembling the guitar, I figured it might be even cooler to add a realistic case.

The laser cut miniature Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.

I design all of my Glowforge laser cutter projects in Adobe Illustrator. I started with a photo of Steve’s guitar and traced each element until it looked just right. The cutting area can be up to about 11″ x 19″, so I create an appropriate sized canvas and work with actual dimensions as I go. I typically use red to mark cuts, blue to mark engraves, and green to mark score lines.

Adobe Illustrator for designing my laser cutting & engraving projects.

Because this needed a compartment for a stack of folded cash, I decided to make the guitar out of three layers of 1/8″ birchwood. To emphasize that this was a personalized gift, I cut Steve’s name as a pattern in the base of the gift compartment.

The layers were glued together and I attached the ‘lid’ of the box with a Chicago screw and embedded four magnets inside to position the lid in place when closed. To give it a nice honey walnut color, I put two coats of Danish Oil on the guitar. For the case, I etched a leather texture into the wood, which looked amazing once it was painted black. It was fabricated from several layers of wood and held together with plastic hinges and magnets. The cherry on top was a felt insert that I engraved with the Gibson logo.

I enjoyed this project and Steve loved it – making it worth every second designing, assembling, and painting it.

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