There are plenty of kerfing wood with the laser cutter, and they started my fascination in transforming the flexibility of a solid material. This project is my personal exploration of the same concept, but using dukta incision. That is, instead of cutting through the material in patterns, we cut grids halfway from both sides of the sheet. This method allows twisting and multi-directional bending.
This is still very much in trial, highly intuitive in laser cutting process, and breaks easily.
However, it also achieves an incredible flexibility, transformed textural quality, and surprising porous quality which I will explain later.
Step 1: Concept
I first came across this idea from dukta. While the incision technique itself is basically another form of kerf, this company took it to another level through their craft and demonstrates a flexibility I haven't seen before. From here, it was just a question of scale combined with my interest in laser cutting.
So, this is basically 2 same-sized grids that we carve onto both sides of the wood strip. The way they are overlapped forms and functions as one single grid half their original size. Above is a large scale sample I cut with tablesaw.
The one I am using in this tutorial is a straight grid because it is simpler to describe as an intro, but I usually prefer 45 degrees X's because it allows better twisting motion, whereas this one is more of a 2-directional bending. I'll save that one for later, including some of the shapes I've made with this technique.
Step 2: Materials
Basswood is great for this material, anywhere from 1/8" to 1/2". I don't really use plywood, because the glue between their layers aren't even sometimes, and with cuts this small this minor spots can be significant.
And maybe this is nitpicking, but don't buy a sheet that has too many wood knots for the same reason. We're not really cutting though the material, and these grids mean that a single break can easily travel through the surrounding squares.
Step 3: Cut File
I am using Rhinoceros file, and there's an illustrator export file.
Magenta for cuts. Green and blue distinguish the 2 grids, but they have the same power-level of engravings.
Step 4: Prepping and Test Cuts
Now, tape the edges of your 3/16" basswood sheet. It doesn't seem as important now to keep it from moving, but it will make it less confusing when you flip stuff around in the laser cutter.
Notice the three rectangles on top of the grids? Those are test cuts, and this is really important. You want to cut 60-80% deep into the sheet.
I can't tell you exactly the power level, so adjust power and speed of the laser according to the tests. It generally take 3-5 tries. I made it with 2 tries this time, but make as many as you need. Try the one you like most one more time, just to make sure.
Step 5: 1st Grid
Precision is important, so engrave before you cut. It's good practice.
Now, hide the green grid, and cut blue. Above is a picture of the front and rear view of that piece.
Step 6: 2nd Grid
Now, flip that piece in place.
Tape both edges. The laser will cut over the tape, so what I do here is do the horizontal lines first. Pause, and re-tape the edges. You're going to need to remove the tapes later, but again, this makes sure the strip does not move around because the strip actually bends a little in the cutting process (you can see it in the second picture). These are 0.1x0.1 inch grids, which makes each line only 0.05 inch apart from each other. Precision, precision.
Clean up the tape bits, and there's your laser-cut dukta.
Hold it up to the light. Pretty cool, huh? Those little dots you see are made because the laser cutter passing the same point twice as we engrave both surfaces.
Above is a bracelet I tried to make, just waiting for my leather cord shipment now.
Also, you can raster stuff on it, reeeally lightly. Again, test test test.
I tried to make a lamp out of it too, but so far I'm just trying to perfect the technique. Let me know what you think!