5 Unique DIY Laser Engraver Projects & How to Engrave Them
If you’re in the laser world, chances are you’ve done the typical laser engraving projects like keychains, wood signs, acrylic jewelry, or generalized home decor. These items are among the most shared on social media and laser forums. While they’re certainly worthwhile, we all crave fresh laser engraver project ideas that inspire us to create something new! If you’re looking for some different laser cutting and engraving ideas, this blog will teach you how to laser engrave five unique DIY laser projects that you have (probably) never heard of before.
Some of these laser engraver projects have files available for free from the OMTech DIY Craft Kit page. These free laser engraving projects might just inspire your next masterpiece!
What can you make with a laser engraver?
1. Custom Laser Engraved Shadow Box
What is a shadow box?
A shadowbox is a frame that contains depth (usually a minimum of .75 inches thick or more) which can be used to display layered paper art, wood crafts, memorials and more. Not only are shadow boxes a display piece, but they can also serve as a keepsake or memorial. Depending on what you’re going for, you can also incorporate LED light strips in the back of the box to make it really stand out. The DIY shadow box is one one of my favorite wood laser engraving projects because they’re often very personal. This laser engraving project might require some extra time and care, but the results can be incredible!
What can I put in a shadow box?
Keepsakes of loved ones
Memorabilia & event tickets - sports/music/theater
Preserved or fake flowers/flora
Awards and medals
Layered wood collages and/or card stock designs
Wedding invites or life event kick knacks
You can also laser cut your shadow box frame if you’re feeling adventurous! Or you can purchase frames from craft supply stores (Michaels has some great 3 packs for sale).
DIY Laser Project Instructions:
Make sure to download the Bee Buddis SVG, as this file is perfect for a shadow box! When you make a shadow box, you have to think in layers.
1. Measure the depth and the inner part of the frame
For example, although the shadowbox might say it is an 8x8, that is most likely the outer dimensions. You lose inside space because of the frame and some shadow boxes also have inserts.
2. Measure Your Wood Layers
For example, if you plan on using ⅛ inch material and you want your design to be 8 layers, you need to make sure you have enough depth in the frame for all those layers.
.125 x 8 = 1 inch. So you need to make sure your shadowbox has at least an inch of depth (you should have it a little bit larger to allow wiggle room for the glass top too)
*Calipers are a fantastic tool to help you figure out the thickness of your material!
3. Upload to Laser Software
Once you have your shadowbox and layers figured out, you can then load up your design to your preferred laser engraver software and start laser cutting.
4. How to Laser Cut Wood
Focus your laser at the best focal height. If you’re not sure how to do this, make sure you perform a ramp test prior to running any actual projects.
Once you know your focal height, place your wood on the honeycomb workbed and use trace to line up the placement.
Send the job from LightBurn to the laser for cutting
5. Clean the Workpiece
As the laser heats and vaporizes the wood, it leaves behind some smoke residue or “char.” Rubbing alcohol and a cloth is great for cleaning up wood char. Dab a small amount of alcohol on the cloth and simply wipe the wood until clean.
6. Plan Your Assembly
After it’s all clean, you can do a rough assembly to make sure everything lines up and fits inside of the frame. Once it’s put together, take a photo so you can remember which layers you want to paint certain colors.
7. Paint & Dry
Apply your paint or stain to each wood piece. Make sure to leave some contrast between the layers: If you juxtapose two layers of the same color, you may not notice they’re different layers!
8. Glue It Together
Super glue the layers together once you have them where you like. Starbond medium glue is my personal favorite, so I use that for most of my laser engraving projects.
9. Cover the Back of the Shadow Box
Depending on the back of the box, if it’s a plain cardstock color you can choose to leave it, place the design over it (if it covers it), or cover the back area with an alternative color of cardstock. If you choose to cover it, you can take a piece of cardstock and glue/ spray mount it to the back panel and trim the edges with a utility knife.
10. Glue the back layer to the back of the panel so it won’t fall off and allow it to dry.
11. Display your new shadow box!
You can also spice up your shadowbox by making some fancy plaques, which ties into the DIY laser projects below.
2. Custom Laser Engraved Plaques for Art, Awards, Galleries, and More!
Creating and displaying custom plaques can be an interesting way to turn simple laser engraver projects into something more formal and elegant. You can use it to describe an artistic piece, a photo wall of family members and memories, or perhaps you have to call out custom awards and want something that looks formalized.
The material for the plaque is from Duets by Gemini and is available on the OMTech website. It is a thinner 1/16 inch material and is somewhat flexible. The sample used in the photo is of the black that engraves gold.
Making a plaque is easy, especially for beginner laser engravers!
How to Laser Engrave Acrylic Plaques:
Load your material
Load your file (make sure to set the layers up so it engraves first and then cuts)
Engrave/ cut the project
To make this sample, the following settings were used on a 60W CO₂ laser machine:
Engrave: 200 speed / 18 power
Cut: 10 speed / 25 power
4. Clean the design off using just a dab of LA Awesome and a cloth
5. Stick to the frame/ wall with either super glue, adhesive, or a magnetic backing!
I used removable foam mounting squares to attach my plaque to the shadow box.
3. Enhancements for Tabletop Games
If you enjoy board games or play any kind of tabletop games, you’d be surprised at the amount of DIY laser projects you can make with your laser! Because these knickknacks are so small, this laser engraving project can be completed with the 40W desktop laser engraver as well.
Some examples of projects you can make here include:
Buildings, walls, and other standing elements for table top terrains
Dice trays and card deck holders
Miniature tokens and 2D standing figures (Can also be combined with sublimation and acrylic or wood)
Status effects and condition ring markers of various colors (these go around the base of your miniature during gameplay)
The same rules as above apply. There are hundreds of free laser engraving project files available online to help you start laser engraving tabletop games. Now it’s time to raise your wood laser engraving projects to the next level!
4. Laser Cut Clocks
Making a clock is one of my favorite laser engraver projects because it’s a functional piece of home decor that can show off your individuality. You can also learn how to laser cut a clock on OMTech’s Youtube channel!
In order to make a clock, you will need to purchase a few things.
You can get a DIY clock mechanism kit at nearly any craft or hobby store, or you can order it online.
You will also need a pair of calipers or something to measure the thickness of the wood.
You will want at least ¼ inch thick material in order to prevent warping and bending, but you also may need to build up your clock a bit depending on how thick the mechanism may be. There are more details shown in the DIY laser projects video.
Batteries are also needed for the clock to work
5. Laser Cut Hair Clips & Barrettes
As home laser engravers, we tend to have a lot of scrap materials left over from our big wood laser engraving projects. A lot of people usually think of the usual earrings, keychains and magnets when it comes to scrap busters. You can use those same designs for hair clips and barrettes too! OMTech offers a variety of scrap busters for free on their DIY shop, so make sure to check out some of those files.
You follow the same process as you would if you were making an earring set or keychain. The only difference is you are gluing the design to a different material, which would be the metal clips in this instance.
You will also want to size the design to make sure it fits with the hair clip. It is also better for you to get the flatter clips versus the ones that are curved, as the wood will stick better.
More Laser Cutting and Engraving Ideas
Aside from these 5 featured laser engraver projects, if you are feeling a little bit more adventurous, check out some of these other laser engraving project ideas below to help boost your creativity.
Laser cut lamps from transparent, printed or frosted acrylic (Wood works too!)
Laser cut handbags and purses
Laser engraved wooden dolls (think paper dolls, but made out of wood!)
Custom frames and boxes (you can use this awesome website to make some of your own box dielines!)
These are only a few laser engraver project ideas to help you get started on something new. Don’t forget to also check out all the free laser engraving projects on the OMTech DIY shop and all the wonderful DIY laser projects on the OMTech Youtube channel — these come with step-by-step instructions. Anytime you utilize a free laser engraving project file, you should personalize it to make it unique! There is no limit to the fun and original laser engraver project ideas you can try. I guess that’s why they say beaming with possibilities!