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Show HN: WYSIWYG CNC wood carvings (pinegram.com)
57 points by Jack000 on Jan 28, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

2 bits of feedback on your home page:

- you don't state on the page what your product is. Ok, it's "Deeply carved and finished by hand", "a custom work of art" and "A personal gift that leaves a lasting impression", but what is it? You need a big statement upfront that says "Pinegram lets you design and send a beautiful engraved wood postcard" or something (I'm not a copywriter). It was easier for me because your HN post is actually very descriptive.

- I was about to dismiss the product because I didn't like the shape of the board on the homepage (http://i.imgur.com/JSX4TG8.jpg), and it's only when scrolling back up and seeing the heart shaped one that I understood that you had different shapes available. You might want to do something about that, maybe use 2/3 different shapes in that options list.

It's pretty much a wooden plaque, but that doesn't sound very enticing so I was trying to frame it more as a greeting card type of product. You're right though, it definitely needs a more literal description right up front.

You're right though, it definitely needs a more literal description right up front.

You've had one piece of feedback that confirms what you believe. That doesn't make it right. This is exactly why we do split testing (A/B tests). At the very least, if you do change it, make sure you note when you changed it, what you did and why you did it, so you can see how it impacts sales.

I'd argue wooden greeting card would be more enticing and interesting. Plaque makers are a dime a dozen, but advertising it as a custom hardwood greeting card will help you stand out.

a project like this is probably a bit out of the norm for the HN crowd, but I thought I'd share it anyways.

I've been working on this as a side project for the last few months. I had ran a similar business in university, but most of my time was taken up by validating design files and doing CAM. This time around the backend generates g-code directly, allowing for the production process to be almost entirely automated.

> probably a bit out of the norm for the HN crowd

That's arguably the best kind of HN post.

It's awesome. I am still busy adjusting my Not So Precise Semi-Manual Pick & Place Robot, and I've delved far too deep into the whole CNC world already.

heh, I basically made this site to justify my CNC expenses. I remember my first CNC, made from MDF and a hand saw. Wasn't pretty but it was fun making and using it.

What are you using for CNC? I really want to get one and have even thought about getting something small (like a desktop mill) but your machine looks amazing.

I got a kit from cncrouterparts. Really should have just bought a shopbot or something but wanted to build it myself. The biggest irony is that the easiest way to do a CNC build is with another CNC.

Nice! Just ordered one :) Good timing for V-day

I'm seeing a trend for site designs to have this look of a multipage brochure stacked into one web page. The problem I have with this design -- and the problem I just now had with this site -- is that I had no idea that there was anything to scroll to.

Granted the tiny scrollbar on my gigantic monitor was a clue, but one I easily overlooked. So I was left wondering what this was, only to see someone comment here about info on the homepage that I did not see.

I think my problem is that there is so much empty space at the bottom of the ATF homepage, that there was no visual cue that more info was below (again, other than the scrollbar).

Having said that, your product does look interesting and unique. I just wanted to provide some feedback regarding my experience with the main page. Maybe it's just me though.

Have you thought about using other woods as well? If you used Cedar or white oak you would be able to target the outdoor items without really changing much in your automation (at least I wouldn't think so), you may just need to adjust your finishing process. On top of that, it would allow you to have another way to broaden the looks of your products and charge a little more. In my mind Oak is more costly than Maple which you could use to your advantage by adding extra costs to that product.

I would have one suggestion too, take off the Disqus comments from the page. I go to your Info section and the left panel has links and then the right one is blank and just a Disqus widget. It isn't really a section that would need user input, so I feel like it just doesn't fit.

Hardwoods are better for carving so Oak could work. I'm pretty sure regular plywood is mostly the same stuff underneath, with a veneer of the good stuff on top, so I'm not certain it would help with weather resistance. Still experimenting so I'll definitely have to try it!

I did want a section for user feedback though. Maybe I could put that at the end of the home page.

Not sure what the defect is called but I can see in the hero image that the tight floral design on the oval plaque has splintering along the edges. That's a problem with ply, but I'd be concerned that the finish was going to be v. poor based on that image.

it's kind of hard to tell with that one since it has a rough style, but that splintering is actually a part of the design (if you're talking about the vineyard one)

That's fine, but nonetheless _I_ would assume looking at it that it was just inferior workmanship - personally I'd switch the image for one that shows off the quality better. YMMV.

tear out.


The sentence that starts "Deeply carved and finished by hand, [...]" might be perceived as misleading. The fact that the carving happens by machine is quite obvious from the behind-the-scenes movie for instance, but I can still imagine someone feeling fooled by it.

Also, CNC machinery is cool and I want some. If only I had a garage. :|

You'd be surprised at how little space you can get away with. Get yourself a nice clear enclosure, and the external mess is very small.

Also, this is a great guide to options and actually making stuff. http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/gcnc/

Fantastic Idea!

Just one thought as I was playing with your site, I wish there was a way to center the text on my pinegram. I wonder if this would be less of an issue if the anchor point of the text was in the center and not the left corner.


Does your CNC support any unicode characters? Hearts, PI, Fractions, Copyright...

Not the OP, but I don't see why it wouldn't support unicode. If it works anything like the software I have that converts images to gerber routes; the actual drilling process doesn't see fonts, just where to go, and how deep to go there.

aah, op here. So right now I've only got the 100 or so keyboard ascii chars. The reason is that there is no software api for v-carve lettering. I've had to write a script that's basically a point-and click windows macro for each possible character, then compile the whole text with appropriate kerning. The process already takes several hours for each font, plus hand-corrections for any vector problems with the export.

At a lower level this type of v-bit carving is much more difficult compared to 2d operations like pcb trace milling. There are various tricks (http://s485.photobucket.com/user/defaultname000/media/butter...) you can use for computing vector offsets of arbitrary paths, but for v-carving you need to get the medial axis as well.

There is an another limitation - any individual stroke wider than about .09" requires 2 passes to cover, which is not ideal since I'm basically selling machine time. Adding arbitrary symbols would likely increase my cost.

edit: I've gotten the center comment from a few people, I'll see about changing that

I absolutely love this:

> Are Pinegrams really made from pine? They're actually made from domestic Maple plywood, but the MapleGram domain name was already taken so I had to settle for PineGram

probably no one is looking at this anymore, but just an update: being on the front page for a couple of hours netted me around 6000 visitors and 12 orders, for about $240 revenue. Thanks for the support!

Do you deliver this world wide?

yep, though it could take a bit longer. I've sized them so they fall right under 13 ounces for first class parcel in the states. They're light enough to be considered a different class of mail from regular parcels, essentially.

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