Stamping the Moon’s Craters onto a Leather Notebook Cover

Craft & Design Digital Fabrication Laser Cutting Workshop
Stamping the Moon’s Craters onto a Leather Notebook Cover

If you are looking for something to hold your small writing pad, there are plenty of options available. However, you will not find many that feature celestial objects, and even fewer that feature the actual moon itself. In fact, judging by Devin Montgomery’s post on Imgur, it would seem that his notebook (one that features actual map features of the moon), may be a one of a kind design.

When asked why he would use the surface of the moon as the inspiration for the cover of his book, Montgomery, the head of a custom leather fabrication shop called Fabnik, said, “I’ve always loved space and have been listening to a lot of science fiction lately. The surface of the moon seemed like it would be hard to do, but neat if it worked.”

Montgomery first checked Astropedia to find an image of his favorite moon landscape (he really loves space), a crater called Tycho. After getting this raw data, he then imported the image into Inkscape to convert everything into vectors. He said that creating the texture for the stamp was the most difficult part of the build, as it was hard to accurately portray craters (normally seen in grayscale) on stamped leather.

Montgomery decided on black vegetable-tanned Buttero, as it stamps very well, and set about cutting his design with a laser at TechShop Pittsburgh.

Montgomery reports that the “secret to clean laser cutting is transfer tape,” a technique he adapted for leather after seeing how the protective film on acrylic sheets protect the surface from soot. He warns to always use the paper-backed kind, as the vinyl version of transfer tape has the potential to release chlorine gas (damaging to leather) when burned.

Once the leather was cut out, a laser etched the stamp into a piece of Delrin. Montgomery then wet the leather—a difficult task since the material was so nice—and used a 20-ton press to make a permanent indention in the material. His first attempts at etching were not quite deep enough, so he had to to re-etch the design to make the stamp’s marks deeper and achieve better results.

With that done, Montgomery used a saddle stitch and stitching pony to assemble the notebook holder. Once stitched up, the ends melted to keep everything in place. The edges were then polished with beeswax to give them a nice finished look.

The finished product holds a “Field Notes” pad, and has a looped holder for a space pen. It also has an extra pocket for loose notes, or whatever else you might decide to store.

According to Montgomery, the build took around eight hours spread over the course of three days, and he says that half of that was spent “fiddling with the file for the moon texture.”

Though this project might seem out of reach for makers without much laser cutting experience, Montgomery said, “We’d love to talk with anyone who sees this and wants to make a leather product, but doesn’t know where to start. I’ve seen a lot of ideas abandoned before they’re real projects just because they seemed too hard. We want to make it easier.”

[via Reddit]

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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

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