A Gift for Steve – Wisconsin Trivet

In case you haven’t heard, Steve Case is in town (Former CEO of AOL though more recently a startup evangelist and adviser to the president) and we were tasked with making him a parting gift to thank him for his commitment to bringing attention to entrepreneurship in Madison through his Rise of the Rest tour.

We partnered (as we often do) with local entrepreneur Alisa Toninato, founder of FeLion Studios to make a great gift. She provided one of her celebrated Wisconsin state shaped skillets, and we hand-made a fancy trivet with each company’s logo engraved on it who is pitching today for a $100,000 investment from Steve.

We first started with a wood blank, composed of padauk (vivid red), maple (light), and walnut (dark) wood, fixtured it in the router, and having scanned (on a regular flatbed scanner) and vector traced the bottom of the pan we can cut out a shallow pocket:

Next up we pulled the vector image of Wisconsin and routed out the perimeter, leaving some tabs so it wouldn’t rattle around as it completed the cut:

Then we cut the tabs free on the bandsaw, and used a spindle sander and hand sanding to clean up the external tooling marks, the inside pocket was sanded with a mouse detail sander (not shown here):

And after a quick test fit (which was already done on the router to before it was cut free) and we’re off to some finishing steps:
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We used a walnut oil finish, which really makes the colors in the wood come out, gives it a food safe coating, and if properly cared for (no using the dishwasher! 😛 ) will last a very long time:
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After finishing, the laser bed is covered to protect the wood from sucking up debris from prior cuts, and the piece is engraved:
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Partway through:


After engraving, there’s a lot of pitch/resin/smoke deposited on the surface that can be wiped away to give very crisp edges (not done yet in this image):
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We went for a quick scavenger hunt to find some cat toys ribbon we could use to tie things together, Alisa was nice enough to run over a boxed up skillet late Sunday evening:
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Then we realized Youtube is great for learning how to tie a ribbon:
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But fortunately we had a grizzled veteran ribbon-tier at hand who just finished up her wedding projects here to save the day: (Thanks Kate!)
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