The goal of this demonstration is to provide a solution to achieving deeper laser cuts than your wattage is capable of with less charring. With this method, you can cut up to double the thickness of your material!
This technique involves cutting halfway through your material, reflecting the design over the diagonal axis in your software, physically flipping your material over the diagonal axis, and sending the second cut on the back side, allowing both cuts to meet in the middle. This allows you to double your cut depth while reducing char. For example, we will be cutting ½ inch wood today on our 75 watt Epilog Laser, which is typically only capable of cutting up to ¼ inch wood at its highest power, and which serves us best working with 1⁄8 inch wood. We are often confined to working with 1⁄8 inch wood, and have to print multiples and glue for an increased thickness. With this process, we can eliminate triple cuts and lots of gluing time while achieving the same finished result.
Here is a breakdown of the process step by step:
Step 1: Load your file, and create a square or rectangle boundary (symmetry doesn’t matter here, just need to have all objects encased in this boundary). Then move your objects and your boundary to the top left of your design space, ensuring that the boundary line weight is set to hairline, and that it is perfectly aligned to the 90 degree angle of the edge of the bed.
Step 2: Make sure your material is sized to fit in your laser bed flipped on both the horizontal and vertical axis. Place your material in the top left corner of your bed, ensuring it is flush against the 90 degree edge of the bed. *Placement of both material and boundary line are crucial in successfully completing these cuts.*
Step 3: Set your laser settings to half of whatever your material thickness is (in our case, we would use ¼ inch settings since we’re cutting ½ inch wood). Send your design cuts. Only print selection for objects within your design. Do not print your boundary - this is only for alignment, not cutting.
Step 4: Create a 2nd page on your file, and copy and paste your first design + boundary into the same place on the 2nd page. Once pasted, add a 45 degree rotation to everything, including the boundary. Your design should look like it’s on a diagonal.
Step 5: From there, keep everything selected and reflect/mirror everything vertically. This is what it should look like before and after the vertical mirroring.
Step 6: Then, with everything still selected, remove the 45 degree rotation. You should be left with a new 90 degree angle.
Step 7: With everything selected, align the boundary to the 90 degree angle of the edge of the bed space inside your design software.
Step 8: Physically flip material in bed over diagonal axis. Once you flip, ensure your material is flush against the 90 degree edge of the bed. *Placement of both material and boundary line are crucial in successfully completing these cuts.*
Step 9: Send your design cuts from Page 2. Only print selection for objects within your design. Do not print your boundary - this is only for alignment, not cutting.
Now you should have a fully cut ½ inch piece using ¼ inch settings!
Notes to consider:
- We usually use baltic birch plywood for our 1/8th inch cuts, but are working with bass wood for this because it is a lighter weight option! Wood density may affect technique
- If you don’t have a physical ruled edge or 90 degree angle inside your laser bed, you can create a jig!