How to laser cut 90 degree interlocking gears?

I am working on a project that involves laser cutting wooden gears, and I would like some of these gears to be at 90 degrees to each other. Ideally, a beveled gear would be the best for this, but I doubt I could make one with a laser (I could possibly modify this method, or make one with interlocking parts but...)

So to do that do I need to make a special type of gear, or could I just use this and mount them at 90 degrees?

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If you're after efficiency and power handling, sure, you need bevel gears - which need really special machines, because of the shape of the teeth. Real bevel gears are planed.

If you just need a right angle drive, then take a look at ancient methods, like in wind or water mills. There, discs with pegs carry the drive - and you COULD laser discs with holes in for pegs.
astroboy907 (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
Possible... yes I will look into that

The gears however, will not need to handle much power or weight though. Probably the most force going through the gears will be less than 1lb (just enough to get the gears to spin). So I might be able to do a really simple "beveled" design. I mainly just like the shape, but I could do the design without beveled gears, but it would look so much nicer with them.
If its as low as that, consider using a rubber tyre running on a disc instead./
Or if it's smaller, two laser cut circles, the radius with an elastic band around it, pressed against the face of another.
sola00053 years ago

I see that this discussion is one year old. Hoping some of you are still following the question.

Last week, I installed a sculpture that includes a 6' tall copper helix that spirals upward from the regular plexiglass gear it sits on. A second gear sits at 90 degrees to the first and has a crank attached to it.

As you all might guess, I am having major problems with both binding and slipping (the helix weighs about 5-7 pounds).

I have access to a laser cutter and both plexi or wood. Ideas for better gears? Maybe I should just buy a couple of metal beveled gears? Any guidance is appreciated!


frollard4 years ago
90 degree gears need bevels on them to allow the least-tangental (not directly touching) teeth smoothly interlock with one another without binding.

If you just cut regular gears then use a file to bevel the teeth (since the laser can only cut vertical 'normal' cuts) you should be fine.

Hi frollard,

Are you saying that after one makes laser-cut regular gears, we could then angle the teeth (as viewed from above or below) with a file? I don't understand how that would help. If that reduced binding, wouldn't it also increase slipping?

I just tried using regular laser-cut gears of plexiglass (1/1) in a right angle configuration and am having trouble with both slipping and binding.

Any suggestions are appreciated.


rickharris4 years ago
Never tried this but you could slice the gear profile horizontally and cut it in layers in much the same way that a 3D printer works but at a larger scale.