Hobby turns into a business for local man

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

Andrew Christensen has always enjoyed expressing his creativity through hand-crafting items, especially those made from wood and so in late 2018 he decided to create a brand for his products and A.T. Laser Co. was formed. “Initially I purchased a laser engraving machine more as a toy because it looked like fun and I just had to have it. I planned to engrave designs on Apple devices and other pre-made products, however, that part of the business never really took off. Instead, it was the need to create gifts for others that led me to what the business is today,” Christensen says.

Today, Christensen creates home goods such as signs and cutting boards, jewelry such as earrings and bracelets, and an array of giftable items such as garden stakes, keychains, bookmarks, and other small wood and leather gifts. “The majority of the product I create now focuses mostly on earrings made from wood and leather,” he says. “I never planned to make jewelry, I sort of stumbled upon it when I needed a quick gift for my wife. I had raw material sitting around (in this case thin leather), so I used my laser to cut it into a design for a set of earrings” A lot of the gifts he creates for birthday and wedding gifts center on solid wood, engraved cutting boards and signs. “It never gets old watching the laser machine do its work. My passion has always been technology. Being able to watch as a focused laser beam of light can cut and engrave on materials within a few microns of precision is really fascinating! The level of detail I’m able to have always amazes me. My favorite material to work with is wood. I enjoy the slight smell of it as it is burned (the laser machine is essentially burning the material), especially cedar wood,” says Christensen. “Getting to experience that others that are willing to pay for and wear something you created is really neat. Seeing people get excited over the detail is fun.”

His most recently added product is laser cut and engraved solid cedar garden stakes. “These consist mostly of your typical tomatoes, peppers, and onions type of stakes. However, at my online store, the best-sellers are ones with labels taken from the Harry Potter movies. My best sellers are Mandrakes, Devil’s Snare, and Flitterbloom, among another 15 types,” Christensen says. The garden stakes are all created from solid cedar that was milled by his neighbor, Tofte Sawmill. “Brian up-cycles old power poles into boards and posts to order. I’m able to use his scraps to make garden stakes and earrings. Some of my more popular designs as of late have incorporated cedar from his boards,” says Christensen. 

Besides the designs Christensen comes up with on his own, he’s also worked on many custom orders clients have requested. When asked what his favorite project thus far has been, Christensen finds it hard to come up with just one. “If I had to choose it would be a collaboration I did with another woodworker to create a custom engraved serving tray made from solid oak, walnut, and cherry. I custom engraved both sides of a board with sayings. The board was used to build a beautiful serving tray that was given as a going away gift with a set of mugs from Tolkhiem Stoneware,” he says. Some of his most unique projects were custom wood labels made from old barn wood with an artist’s brand engraved on them, and a collaboration with another artist to engrave her designs onto solid cedar planks. 

Christensen, also a full-time farmer, sells his products in his wife’s salon - The Ruby Room, as well as at Livintage Boutique downtown, Design Consign in Brainerd, and has a small selection available at Salon Alain in Clara City. His products are also available on his website atlaserco.com, and custom request information can be obtained by emailing him directly at andrew@atlaserco.com.