How to Adjust for Wood Thickness and Kerf on a Laser Cutter at Techshop

Picture of How to Adjust for Wood Thickness and Kerf on a Laser Cutter at Techshop
In this Instructable I will show you my method to adjust your patterns to the correct thickness on a laser cutter. I went through this to make my wood box slot together with a tight fit and I made this at Techshop San Jose using their Epilog 60W Helix.

You will need:
1. My test pattern (Laser Kerf Test
2. My laser kerf meter pattern (Laser Kerf
3. Some test pieces of the wood you plan to use for your next project.
4. Calipers
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Step 1: Don't Believe Labelled Thickness

Picture of Don't Believe Labelled Thickness
Most wood you buy is not the labelled thickness. This maple plywood I am using for demonstration is labelled 1/4 inch, but you can use whatever thickness you need. This first test I did without adjusting my pattern from its 1/4 inch stock form. As you can see the wood slots do not fit together well at all and you can see a noticeable gap. The file I provided starts with 1/4 thickness which you will have to adjust later. Steps 1 and 2 will use material you don't need to use to successfully yield results. However, if you have not used your chosen material before, these tests offer the chance to find laser cutter settings that will cut through cleanly. On an Epilog 60 Watt Helix I used Speed 10%, Power 90%, Frequency ~500 for my 1/4 inch maple plywood.
TheComedyHen3 months ago

Very clever

Genius! Nice write up. I need to figure out how to do the same thing but using CorelDRAW. I'm working on the laser for the first time over at TechShop Detroit. Thanks again.

Adam ANT (author)  webcompanion1 year ago
Thank you! I have only used Corel a couple times so not sure the exact steps, but I assume there are similar functions. Can incorporate directly into your designs in different ways as well, but I find using the stroke and converting to vectors helps when changing between different materials in the future. Best of luck and have fun on the lasers!