Monday, April 21, 2014

Interview: Lee Maisel and his custom-made laser-engraved Toughbook badges

custom-made Toughbook badge: "Zombie Outbreak Response Team"

Lee Maisel showing what's under his kilt
Lee Maisel: artist, gentleman
Lee Maisel is a laser engraving artist based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He makes, among other things, very cool, custom Toughbook badges. If you want to put your company's logo on your computer, or if you want to feel like a S.H.I.E.L.D agent or a member of the Zombie Outbreak Response Team, Lee is the man to talk to. Recently, we sat down for an interview over email. Here's what we talked about.

BJCS: Tell me about laser engraving. How did you get started with it?

Lee Maisel: I was a computer network engineer for 25 years, and kind of burned out with it. A few years ago, I was watching the TV show "The Screen Savers" on TechTV, and they had a small laser engraver machine and were making some great stuff with it! I wanted one! I understand lasers, as I was interested in lasers as a kid and read a lot about them. We decided in 2008 to invest in a machine, and went to some of the manufacturers and looked at their setups, and decided on an Epilog Laser, which is American made in Colorado. Spent a few months learning how to use it, testing on different materials, etc.

BJCS: Is this your full-time gig, or do you do something else?

LM: Full time; wife has medical issues, so working from home helps a lot.

BJCS: Do you own a Toughbook?

LM: I own 2 CF-30 MK2 Toughbooks, and had a CF-28 I gave to my nephew. They are the coolest laptops ever! I also engrave a fair amount of them for government organizations.

Laser-engraved Toughbook badge by Lee Maisel

BJCS: Where did you get the idea for Toughbook badges?

LM: Having the laser, I am constantly customizing my stuff, and figured I could easily replace the badge, and if I get tired of what I made, I can rip it off and make something new!

I didn't even think of selling them, originally. I just made mine and posted it [to a message board], and people were interested (not that I mind selling them!).

BJCS: Which Toughbook models do you make badges for?

LM: Any, as long as someone can provide me with exact dimensions and a photo of the original.

Battlestar Galactica Toughbook badge

BJCS: What kind of materials do you use?

LM: I use wood, acrylic, different plastics, whatever. Depends on what someone wants!

BJCS: How much do you charge for custom Toughbook badges?

LM: $20, including shipping, unless someone wants to buy a bunch of them that are the same, then the price per [badge] goes way down.

BJCS: Do you design the badges yourself, or do people send you artwork?

LM: I design mine, but people can send me what they want, and I will try my best to accommodate them.

BJCS: Where should I direct folks who might want to buy one of your custom badges?

LM: My website is or they can email me at

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