The Garden Gate

Full Version: How I make and sell The Garden Gate boards and tiles - and how you can, too
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Because I have so little time to work on fulfilling orders and making Pai Sho boards and tiles, I want to share everything about how I make what I do. If you'd like to become a seller of Pai Sho boards and tiles like the ones I sell, check this out and get in touch so I can help you with anything you need help with!

The laser cutter/engraver I use is a Glowforge Basic. My referral link to learn more or buy one for yourself is - using that to purchase one will save you money and will get me a credit as well. I have enjoyed working with the Glowforge and recommend it. Glowforge also sells laser-ready materials that are (supposedly...) pre-finished and masked and guaranteed to work well. I've had some issues with the quality of finish on their materials not being as good as they've shown that it could be sometimes. But overall, working with their materials is great. By selling Pai Sho boards and tiles, my Glowforge paid for itself in less than a year.

Design Downloads

Any designs mentioned here as freely available are available at the Design Downloads page.

Tiles - Designs

I have offered tiles for Skud Pai Sho, Vagabond Pai Sho, Capture Pai Sho, Nick Pai Sho, and a set of Canon Tiles (a set of tiles that have designs that are true to the show). I did not design the tiles for all of these games. The few tile designs I have created are freely available.

Skud Pai Sho

The "Modern Designs" tiles I make for Skud Pai Sho are designed and owned by artist Hector Lowe. Please contact him at hector.lowe[at]gmail[dot]com - he would love to work with you so you can use or produce his designs.

The "Vescucci Designs" tiles I make for Skud Pai Sho are designed by Vescucci. Many thanks to him for offering the designs to everyone as freely available to use!

The Ancient Oasis expansion for Skud Pai Sho features tiles designed by Vescucci.

Vagabond Pai Sho

The Vagabond Pai Sho tiles I make are designed by Coeur De Lion and myself. I love Vagabond Pai Sho and the designs of these tiles, and I have arranged for them to be freely available.

Capture Pai Sho

The Capture Pai Sho tiles, and the game itself, are designed and owned by Tom Ford.

Nick Pai Sho

I designed a Nick Pai Sho set using the glyphs representing the elements (which you can find on the Avatar World Maps and other places), the Lion Turtle tile design by Vescucci as the Avatar tile, and the White Lotus design by me.

Tiles - Materials and Quality

I have offered three levels of quality for tiles. Each level uses different materials and a different engrave quality. Note that I no longer do the White Lotus Initiate quality tiles.

General Glowforge Tile Printing Notes

I print one row of tiles at a time. This is both to prevent any alignment issues when cutting out the tiles and also so I can peel the masking off the tiles while the next row is printing.

I use the "honeycomb material hold down pins" to hold the material in place while cutting. See the Glowforge forum post for more details.

I use a coaster-sized square (because it's a coaster I made) to help place the material on the Glowforge bed. I should share a picture of this so you know what I mean.

Glowforge Settings

The format of any shared Glowforge settings are as follows:
[speed] / [power] / [lines per inch]

Focus Height will always be the default of the Proofgrade material or the measurement of the material being used unless it is provided after the lines per inch value.

White Lotus Initiate

These tiles are made from the least expensive plywood that is available directly from Glowforge. The designs are engraved in low quality, resulting in a design with less detail when compared to the higher quality tiles.

Least expensive Proofgrade Medium Plywood. For Capture Pai Sho, I have done light colored plywood and walnut for dark tiles.

Glowforge Settings:

* Proofgrade Medium Plywood: 1000 / 90 / 225

White Lotus Master - Proofgrade Hardwood

These tiles are made from the hardwood available from Glowforge. The designs are engraved in good quality. Note that I have switched to using thicker hardwood from Colorado Heirloom (see below).

Proofgrade Medium Hardwood - Maple, Walnut, Cherry, Red Oak, Poplar

Glowforge Settings:

* Maple, Walnut, Red Oak: 560 / 60 / 270 or 1000 / 95 / 270
* Cherry: 560 / 55 / 270 or 1000 / 90 / 270
* Poplar: 540 / 50 / 270 or 1000 / 90 / 270

White Lotus Master - Colorado Heirloom Hardwood

These tiles are made from 3/16" hardwood available from Colorado Heirloom - their "Solid Hardwood Laser Strips". The designs are engraved in good quality.

Grand Lotus

These tiles are made from exotic wood that can be purchased from various sources. I've used materials from Inventables and The Wood & Shop. Before lasering, I hand-finish the boards with Shellac, which is a laser safe finish, and apply masking.

The idea behind the Grand Lotus tiles was that they are a special way to support The Garden Gate. Exotic woods and extremely high quality engraves.

Tools and other materials needed: Shellac (spray or brush); sanding sponge; sandpaper (all purpose 220 grit); masking - EnduraMASK MHT 130 Medium-High Tack Transfer Application Tape from SignWarehouse (12x100 or 16x100 depending on the material used for tiles)

White Lotus Master woods, and these 1/8" woods from Inventables or Wood & Shop: Purpleheart, Narra, Yellowheart, Chakte Viga, Katalox, Zebrawood, Padauk

Glowforge Settings and wood notes:

* Maple: 380 / 30 / 340
* Cherry: 395 / 30 / 340
* Walnut: 375 / 30 / 340
* Red Oak: 375 / 30 / 340

Note: Cuts all at FULL power. Cut settings in the format of:
[cut speed] / [# of passes, if more than 1] / [Focus height, if not 0.125 in]

* Bloodwood: 380 (or 375?) / 30 / 340 | CUT: 155
Beautiful dark red wood with a near holographic feel to the color. Keeps color well but is dark. Smells fantastic.
* Chakte Viga: 385 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 165
One of my favorites. Beautiful orangish color that gives fantastic engraves.
* Katalox: 340 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 145
One of the strongest woods in the world. Wonderfully dark. Engraves and cuts surprisingly well. I think this one works best with no finish at all - just a fine sanding.
* Mahogany: 410 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 175 / 2 / 0.09 in
Char city (but not compared to Bubinga)! Some of the biggest flames I've seen while cutting. I won't be using this more if at all.
* Narra (Red Narra from Wood 'n Shop): 395 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 175
One of my favorites! Finishing gave it a golden brown/bronze color and it has beautiful grain patterns, gives great engraves and cuts well.
* Padauk: 380 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 180
Color darkens fairly quickly if exposed to light often. Works well in the laser.
* Purpleheart: 360 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 145
Let Purpleheart sit in the sun before lasering and finishing - it adds to the purple! This wood chars a fair bit. Worth it.
* Redheart: 405 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 185
Can be very bright red, but will lose it's color fast and go dark and dull. Works very nicely in the laser though, so you may want to give it a shot.
* Yellowheart: 380 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 165
Finish it nice and carefully to get the best color. Works very well and keeps color well.
* Zebrawood: 390 / 30 / 340 | CUT: 155
Finish it nicely to give it a golden color. Very striking, works well in the laser though it does char a fair bit.

Material Preparation:
To finish the non-Proofgrade boards, I prepare them ahead of time by at least a day, by doing the following:

* sand with sandpaper
* coat with shellac
* between coats, use fine sanding sponge
* apply multiple coats until finished well (3 or 4 coats, can be less or more depending on the wood)

The Pai Sho Board

Proofgrade Thick Plywood Bold Score Settings:
Thick Plywood Score: 170 / 28 / 0.35 in

Glowforge's Proofgrade thick plywood should have a great finish, but the thick maple plywood began to consistently have a poor unfinished feel. I never got a satisfactory response from Glowforge support; it seemed like they didn't really care. So I have switched to using 1/4" plywood from Colorado Heirloom. It's much cheaper, but has to be masked and is sold in 12"x24" size so it has to be cut down by 4" as well. I have a great saw that I can recommend to you for this if you don't have a tool for it.

Colorado Heirloom 1/4" Plywood Score Settings
Coming Soon

Colorado Heirloom 1/4" Plywood Cut Settings
Coming Soon

Running An Online Store

Etsy will take a sizable percentage of a sale as a fee. That's more than $20 when selling a full Pai Sho set, so I have switched from Etsy to a different store hosting called Ecwid. Ecwid's free plan is very good, and their $15/mo plan is great. I have upgraded once for one month only, because I wanted to use some of the paid features that month (inventory management, etc).

With Etsy, you get the buyers who discover your products through Etsy, so you may want to set up shop both places. Though if you're following in my footsteps and getting help from me, you'll have all of The Garden Gate community being referred to you!

Shipping and general shop materials needed:

* Padded shipping envelopes, both small 4"x8", medium 6"x10" and large 10.5"x16"
* Shipping scale, to weigh packages: I use this kitchen scale
* Bubble wrap, to wrap and protect Pai Sho boards: I use this
* Packing tape
* A working printer to print shipping labels
* Masking tape: masking


Note: I'll be able to update and add remaining details as needed when anyone needs them, just contact me.
Awesome work and thank you for providing this information.

It would be super cool if you could show a time lapse or a video of you making these tiles in the laser printer. Just for curiosity sake. Also whats the time frame on making a set with and without the high quality option.

Also out of curiosity, with the glowforge did you get the basic, the plus or the pro?
(02-27-2019, 12:00 AM)MrSns Wrote: [ -> ]Also out of curiosity, with the glowforge did you get the basic, the plus or the pro?

Glowforge Basic - as stated in all those details up there somewhere Smile
(02-27-2019, 02:46 AM)Skud Wrote: [ -> ]
(02-27-2019, 12:00 AM)MrSns Wrote: [ -> ]Also out of curiosity, with the glowforge did you get the basic, the plus or the pro?

Glowforge Basic - as stated in all those details up there somewhere Smile

Ah my bad, I did miss that.
I am working on a tile manufacture process involving stamps and polyurethane coating to make the set water/wear resistant. My stamps will likely make a pattern similar, but not identical to Hector's. Should I contact him for permission, or at least to agree that my variations constitute a new design?