Folding Heart - xTool Projects
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Valentines! That special time of year where we get to celebrate the one that makes us whole. In that line of reasoning, I present the "Folding Heart". It symbolizes the two halves of a heart, each one a part that belongs to another. When separate, the color of life is there in the wood tones, but not as vibrant as the red shown when made into a whole heart, the two are together forever.
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Basic Information
Software
xTool Creative Space
Machine
D1 Pro
Laser Module Output Power
20W
Material Used
Birch Plywood,Super Glue,100mm x 1mm Magnets(2),Red Paint,Wood Stain,Poly Spray,3/8" Dowel 3/4" Long
Material Info
P2-10 Thick Super Glue (Amazon) 1/4" Birch Plywood (Local Retailer) 100mm x 1mm Magnets (Amazon) Apple Red Gloss Spray Paint (Lowe's) Minwax Aged Oak Gel Stain (Lowe's) Poly Spray (Lowe's) 3/8" Dowel Rod (Lowe's)
Making Time(mins)
240
Step1: How it began

EDITED 1/26: I remade this item with an alternative way of making it. Read all the way to the end as some changes made in the process are noted there in the last step. Items with possible changes/alternative ways are noted with an asterisk (*) throughout the instructions. The XCS file with the changes is labeled “Fold Heart using dowel”

This was an idea I had since I first got my laser machine last summer. I began designing it in December and finally did my first cut a couple of weeks ago. After a few more tweeks, I felt I would have it just right. 

I used xTool's provided image of the heart and then moved that over to my art program on my iPad. After getting the design down, I imported it as an svg into XCS and added a few size adjustments. After this, I traced it and then I deleted my import. I then labeled each part with scored letters. Finally, I added my text to the two heart halves and the larger back heart that would be engraved. 

Voila! A folding heart design was made to display to that soul mate in your life, the other half of your heart! 

I am writing this "How-to" as I make one of these using these new settings. Final thoughts on how this went together and advice on things to do differently (If any) will be in the last step.

Step2: To Start

Download the attached file and open in XCS.

Note: I used ¼" wood but this can be used with any thickness. However, Step 9 (which is optional) may be hard to do with thinner wood.

*Prepaint in Red a 1/4" board. You want at least a 7" x 7"  or larger board. That is what I used. (Optional: You could wait to paint the red until after you have cut the pieces out. This will mean engraving the final heart after the paint is dry. It may be easier than having to go back and paint the charred edges of the paint if they cannot be cleaned off. See Step 4 and 6.)
I did three coats and allowed to dry between each coat.
Prepare another 1/4" board at approximately 12" x 12" or larger. Most of the time I put a coat of Poly spray on it prior to engraving, but since I will sand the pieces from this board, I will wait until just before final assembly to put a clear coat on. 

Step3: Canvas One
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Setting 1
Process Method
Laser Cut
Process Material
Birch Plywood
Power(%) or Cut Pressure(g)
100
Pass
3
Speed(mm/s)
4
Setting 2
Process Method
Laser Score
Process Material
Birch Plywood
Power(%) or Cut Pressure(g)
80
Pass
1
Speed(mm/s)
60
Setting 3
Process Method
Vector Laser Engrave
Process Material
Birch Plywood
Power(%) or Cut Pressure(g)
80
Speed(mm/s)
80

This is the pieces from Canvas 1. 

Don't forget to run a frame prior to running the cuts. 
Once the run is complete, remove ALL pieces and be sure to keep the little circles that are cut, you may need them later.

Step4: Canvas Two
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Setting 1
Process Method
Laser Cut
Process Material
Birch Plywood
Power(%) or Cut Pressure(g)
100
Pass
4
Speed(mm/s)
4
Setting 2
Process Method
Vector Laser Engrave
Process Material
Birch Plywood
Power(%) or Cut Pressure(g)
80
Speed(mm/s)
80

Settings for the painted board are similar except I added an additional pass for the cuts. This is due to the paint. Since I had 3 coats, I wanted to be sure the cut went all the way through.
*NOTE: Should you decide to do the alternative and paint these after you cut, select the letters to be engraved to ignore and change your cut pass to 3 instead of 4. When you are ready to engrave after you paint, change the ignore to output and set the rest of canvas 2 to ignore. 
The red small circles are important to keep so hang on to those as well. If you lose any, you have the spare unpainted circles as back up.
Once the cuts are done, you will most likely have charring (if you did not mask like I did not do - see parts picture above) that cannot be cleaned away. No problem. Get as much cleaned away as possible on the little hearts and the side bars (tiny squares) and the larger backer heart. (The small circles are not important to clean away the char). Tape off the letters and put a coat of red paint over what is charred (Step 6). Careful not to get too close to the tape, as it will show when you pull it away later.
 

Step5: Sanding
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Take all the pieces (except the small circles - those will be used in Step 7) to where ever you will do your sanding and paint/staining..
Sand the plain wood pieces. I usually use a palm sander and 400 grit sandpaper. I sand both front and back of each piece, as well as the edges, to remove as much char as possible. Even though I will be covering some of these pieces permanently, since they will be glued together, I still sand all sides. Also sand the back of the larger red heart. (The edge of this heart will be sanded later. 
NOTE: Not a lot of pressure is needed when sanding the edges. Lightly go back and forth. You do not want to warp the edging a lot as the pieces will need to be lined up later. Don't worry if you don't get all the char as there is more sanding later. 
IMPORTANT: In the picture shown above, you will notice one part is circled on two of the pieces. Be extremely careful sanding here, as the wood is thin and it can split with too much pressure. I ran over it once just to remove the major char and will not sand these areas again, since ultimately they will be hidden.

Step6: Stain/Paint
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Repaint the edges of the red hearts and the side bars (if needed- see Step 4). Leave to dry.
I stained the front heart halves with the quotes. I like to use gel stain as it goes on easily and, after wiping, dries very fast. However, note that the part of the stain that goes into the letters will require a little longer to dry. I usually give it half a day.

Step7: The "Hinge" Piece
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*NOTE: If you are using the dowel rod, you can skip this step by just cutting a ¾" piece of the dowel and use that for your hinge piece.

To create your hinge piece, and while your other pieces dry, gather the small round circles. You want 4 red pieces. Keep the rest in reserve.
Using cyanoacrylate (superglue), place a dot on one the top of one circle and then carefully add a piece on top of that. Make sure they line up as close as possible along the outer edges. While they do not have to be perfect, if you have too much overhang, then they will not work for the hing part later. I like to use 2P-10 thick rubberized adhesive as it will give me about 10 - 15 seconds of work time before bonding.
Do this step again with another 2 pieces. There should be 2 stacks of 2 pieces now. I like to go ahead and use my reserve pieces to make several stacks.
NOTE: It is not important that a surface be red. I just like to have that tiny bit of extra thickness the paint provides.
Of the stacks you have, select two of them and glue them together to create a stack 4 pieces high. Again, I like to do this with my spare parts until I have a couple of stacks that is as even as possible along the edges. Due to the size, these are hard to sand down. If you have to, do so with a small sheet of paper by hand.
Finally, for strength, and to ensure a good bond of all four pieces, I coat the outside of each in a thin layer of superglue. I use a throwaway brush or a silicone brush to put this on. This coat cannot be thick as you will be putting this in as a hinge and do not want it to impede that function later. Let these sit until later.
*Some have suggested using a dowel. While you can, I wanted to show you how I built this heart using my laser for all the wood parts.

Step8: Two Halves, One Heart
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Grab your pieces marked "A Top" and "A Bottom". Using the same glue as before, quickly put the glue over the surface (about ¼" from the edge) that says "A Bottom". Press the "A Top" on that and line up the outside edges of the heart. This needs to be as close to lined up as you can get.
Do the same with the pieces marked "B Top" and "B Bottom".

Step9: Two Halves, One Heart Part 2
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Take the two stained half hearts and, using the same glue, put these atop "A" and "B", lining the edges up like in Step 8.
HINT: Use one of the stacks of 4 small circles made in Step 7 (or the dowel) to help line up the holes at the bottom. Do not put a lot of glue around the hole though as that can cause the hinge piece to become afixed due to bleed out from the edge and you will have to drill it out. (Ask me how I know this - and thus the reason for extra of the small circles).
The result will be two halves of a heart that butt up to form a whole heart with the holes overlapping at the bottom. Done correctly, the stack of four small circles that were glued together should slide right through both holes and create a pivot point to allow the heart halves to "swing" open. If using the same thickness wood I used, each half would be at most .75" thick.
At this point, I like to sand the edges again to get them even and lined up correctly. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even put a slight round on the edge. Once this is done, I apply another coat of stain to the top and, this time, the edges. 

At this point, once the stain has dried, apply a poly spray coat to both halves to give it a light sheen.

Step10: Magnetize (Optional)
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This step is not a requirement but can create a wonderful way to present the piece by adding magnets to make the heart halves hold together. 
First you will need two magnets. I used 10mm x 1mm magnets that I found on Amazon. If using these magnets, take a 3/8" forstner drill bit and, on the inside of both halves of the hearts at about the half inch point, drill a shallow hole. (Use a hole punch to mark the exact half way point between the front and back of the heart halves to make it easier to start the drilling). Make this hole the depth equaling the thickness of your magnets. Dry fit a magnet to be sure it comes level or just slightly under the edge of the wood. Do this to both sides. 
Once done, glue the magnets in using the same glue from previous steps.
IMPORTANT: Magnets have a reverse polarity. If you glue the magnets in the wrong way, they will oppose each other instead of be attracted to each other. Make sure that the two sides facing out attract to each other. 

Step11: The Back Heart
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NOTE: Before doing this step, if you have not engraved this piece yet, do so before proceeding and then be sure to clean up the residue.

Once the heart is dry, lay it flat with the painted side up. Take your hinge piece (whichever has worked the best for you of the ones you have - or the dowel piece) and liberally apply a good amount of super glue around the bottom edge of it. Set it in place in the hole and rotate it to spread the glue evenly around. Let this harden completely before moving on, about 1 to 3 minutes would be the best.  
Next, take the two side bars and, red side facing towards the top of the heart, glue the short side to the bottom edge at each corner. (See picture). Let these set.

Step12: Front
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This part will require the use of the parts shown in the picture. Four pieces in total.

Place the stained front face up. Using the score lines as a guide, glue on the whole heart. Center it and let it sit to set up a few seconds. Following the same method, apply the two heart halves to either side. Let set for a few seconds.

Your front panel is now complete. Set it to the side. This will be the final piece of our assembly process.

Step13: Assembly
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The assembly of the Folding Heart is pretty straight forward. Place the right half of the stained heart on first, fitting the hole over the hinge piece sticking up from the back heart. Place the left half ontop of that, again, fitting the hole over the hinge piece.

Test the open and close of the two halves. If you need to sand the hinge piece to allow a smoother swing on the two halves, remove them and lightly sand it by hand. Be sure to wipe away any dust before replacing the two heart halves.

Once happy with the swing, close the heart halves. Line it up with the back heart.

*Put a thin strip of glue on the ends of both side bars and a very small drop on the tip of the hinge. (See the picture above). If you put too much glue on the hinge piece, the heart halves will not swing so be sure to just use a drop when you do this. Carefully place the front on top of the side bars and hinge, lining up the bottom left and right corners with the side bars. Press down firmly. Give a few seconds to set and then perform your swing test again. The two halves should move smoothly.

Stand the Folding Heart up and check your swing again. If working correctly, you should have a completed project. 

NOTE: Closing it is just for presentation and novelty. It will stand closed, but to prevent tipping and future damage, it is recommended to be displayed open.

Step14: Final Thoughts
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Now that I have made this using my new settings, I came to a few conclusions.

  1. I think painting the back heart after cutting would be better. As you no doubt see in the photos, even after sanding a bit and repainting the edges, the red hearts (both the front and back) still show the roughness through the paint. Going back to Step 2, I probably would remove the paint step and do that in Step 6. I would still put at least 2 coats of paint on with a light sand after the first coat.
  2. I would slightly shift the words on the back heart to the left. This will allow the full statement to show when the halves “swing” open.
  3. Place a bit of superglue over the back of the main heart where the “hinge” piece shows. This will allow for a stronger bond.

*I did remake this by not painting the pieces until after the cuts were done. It allowed for all the pieces to be cut from a single 15" x 15" birch board. It also made it a lot easier to get things together and reduced time by about 30 min by not having to touch up the charred edges. I also used a 3/8" dowel rod for the “hinge” from step 7 so this allowed me to skip having the small circles cut out. On Step 13, I recommended putting a drop of glue on the end of this “hinge” to hold to the front panel. I did not do this to the new setup to allow for flexibility to the dowel hinge when opening and closing the front heart.

If you try this and can think of changes that could be made, please feel free to let me know. I will always looking to improve this.

Design Files
Folding Heart.xcs
Fold Heart using hinge Dowel.xcs
ValentineWeTime
Valentine
Valentine Day
Love
Heart
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