How To Laser Cut Wood At Home? (Step By Step Guide)

How To Laser Cut Wood At Home?(Step by steps) 

Step-1: Buy your laser cutter for wood: 

Buy a top notch laser that cuts wood. Preferably a CO2 laser cutter to get started. Keep in mind a laser cutter can cut the wood according to its power rating. 


Step-2: Set your wood laser cutter: 

Your CO2 laser cutter will come with users’ manual, this includes suggested settings for cutting wood and other materials, with their respective thicknesses.

Save these settings as presets after loading them into your computer.

Ensure you name each setting with a name you can easily remember.

This will enable you to find and load the presets each time you want to cut solid wood of similar thickness.

These are the best settings of a laser cutter for cutting Wood at home

  • Power: Defines the power output of the laser. You can set this between 0 to 100%(maximum power rating)
  • Speed: It determines the movement speed of the laser head
  • Frequency: Determines the number of pulses per second. It depends on the materials used
  • Focus: There is a focusing lens inside the laser head. The focus point should be on the material surface, it can also be below depending on the application


Step-3: Prepare laser cutting files for wood: 

Use vector files and Bitmap files for your laser cutting.

Vector files are mathematical formulas that define lines, circles, etc., These formulas are created by AutoCAD, Illustrator, Inkscape, or CorelDRAW.

You can only cut with a vector file, while bitmap is used for both cutting and engraving.


Step-4: Test your laser cutter: 

Irrespective of whether you have a preset for cutting. Ensure you run a test before embarking on the final project.

You will be able to juxtapose if you will increase or decrease your laser power before starting anything at all.

It’s very painful and discouraging if you later discover that your material wasn't cut after taking it out. Ensure you test before starting the full job.


Step- 5: Start your laser cut projects: 

After all have been followed and done, you can now happily start your laser cutting projects.


These are the best types of Wood for laser cutting: 

  • Softwood
  • Hardwood
  • Veneer
  • Plywood
  • MDF[Medium Density Fiberboard]
  • Coniferous wood
  • Alder
  • Cherry

Other tools you will need for laser cutting Wood at home:

You don’t necessarily need extra tools to laser cut wood at home, but with my little experience in laser cutting. I will advise you to get the following extra tools ready.

  • Utility Knife: It is used to cut materials that weren't completely cut by the laser cutter.
  • Painter’s Tape/Masking Tape: It prevents burn stains and tapes light materials by masking the surface of your material.
  • Measurement Tape/Clippers: Used to measure dimensions.


An Overview Of Laser cutting Design Software  

laser cutting software

Just like your everyday inkjet printer, a laser cutter works in the same manner. Laser cutters come with specific drives, these allow them to take what is on the computer and convert it into simpler form to make it readable for the laser cutter.

Let us discuss some of the common design software:


For 2D Designs

  • CorelDraw: This is software for graphics designing. It has many tools and applications to get the job done.
  • Adobe Illustrator: A sophisticated graphic design software. You can use this to create high-quality designs.
  • AutoCAD: A software free for students, it is primarily used for creating detailed drawings and product representation by engineers and architects.
  • Inkscape: This is a free graphics design software.


For 3D Design

  • Solidworks: An engineering 3D design software with extensive and specific uses and applications
  • Autodesk Inventor: This is the design software used for creating and optimizing design systems.
  • Autodesk Fusion:  A cloud-based CAD software free for hobbyists and small businesses. It helps designers and engineers through the entire design, engineering, and manufacturing processes.

Safety Measures For Laser Cutting Wood At Home  

safety precautions laser cutting wood at home

We are familiar with the popular safety sign “safety first” seen in workshops. It applies to laser cutting wood at home too. You need to pay attention to warnings and precautions. 

  1. Keep the lens and mirrors free

  2. Keep it out of reach of children

  3. Align the laser beam before cutting

  4. Maintain and lubricate by following proper maintenance schedule

  5. Ensure, the water is circulated for some minutes, this will enable the metal and glass components part to acclimate with the new temperature

  6. Connect the laser cutter to earth ground using a copper wire.

  7. Use the control system to move each axis or disconnect the motor wires from the amplifiers while performing an alignment on your laser cutter. 

  8. Do not operate the laser machine in a flammable atmosphere.

  9. Make sure to carefully follow the installation instructions for the laser tube.


Materials That You Should Not Laser Cut When Doing This At Home

Some materials release toxic gases or dust and can damage the machine when laser cut. I made some research to get you safe while implementing your laser cut projects ideas at home. These materials are listed below, but not limited to:

  • Beryllium oxide

  • Polyvinyl butyrale(PVB)

  • Polyvinyl chloride(PVC)

  • Carbon fibers(Carbon)

  • Polytetrafluoroethylene(PTFE/Teflon)

  • Leather and artificial leather containing chromium.


Conclusion

Finally, you should be more than ready to make your first cut at home. You must take the precautions very seriously.

You know you are not doing this in a workshop but in your home. Ensure you change only one parameter in a test process. 

Once your result looks like your idea, don’t forget to save your setting as a preset for future reference. I'll be glad when you make your first cut.