This is an easy first laser cutter project that you can complete in a single day.
What you will need:
- 6 inch by 5 inch wood sheet 1/8 inch thick
- Test wood (similar size) of the same material
- Two SVG Design Files: Tree Design, opens a new window | Plain Design, opens a new window
- 1 Afternoon (approx. 1 hour on the laser cutter)
When working with a laser cutter it is important to have the right type of files. In order to cut materials, you must have an SVG, opens a new window (scalable vector graphic) file. The SVG file type is different than other more common image files because the lines are NOT made of pixels, but uses actual lines. This makes the file infinitely scalable without any distortion or pixilation. When working with a laser, the SVG file provides a mathematically defined line the laser can follow and cut along.
Just arrive at the library with your wood material and the design file on a USB flash drive (or in a cloud storage account online that you can log into from our public computer). Our staff will walk you through operating the laser cutter. You just need to be 18 years of age or older.
The design will have some lines that are in color and other elements in black. The colored lines you will set the laser to cut. The other lines will simply be engraved. Now the order of these two operations, engraving and cutting, is important for the best outcome. First you will want to execute the engraving. Once the engraving is complete, leave your material in place (do not move it). Next you will execute the cutting operation. When you cut through the material, the wood will often slightly shift. If you were to cut the wood before engraving, getting the different design elements to line up perfectly is just impossible.
Once you have the part cut and engraved on the laser cutter, you are ready to do the clean up and assembly. The laser cutting and engraving process will leave some soot on the edges and face of the material. You can clean this up with a little soap and water. (Use denatured alcohol if you are worried about the effect of water on the wood.) Next you will glue the two parts together. Once the glue has dried and set, the light switch cover is ready to install!
You can add other images to the plain design cover to customize the project even further. You will just need to open the file in a vector graphic editing software. Inkscape is a free open source vector graphic software that will allow you to customize the design. Other software for editing vector images: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and the web-based Canva. Once you have the design open in your vector editing software, you can import a JPEG/PNG silhouette image to the light switch cover (just size it and align to suit your taste).
Have fun learning new technology while creating a useful item for you home!