How to create laser-cut jewelry for under $4, using free software

Picture of How to create laser-cut jewelry for under $4, using free software
In this Instructable I will show you how to make some unique jewelry for less than $4 using free software and a Ponoko laser cutter.

And how to sell it for $14 using a free e-commerce online store (no signup fee, no item listing fee, no sales success fee).
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Step 1: Stuff you'll need

Picture of Stuff you'll need
camera set up.jpg
A computer.

Free vector software called Inkscape (check out the next step for details).

Inkscape design templates to upload to Ponoko.

A free making account with Ponoko.

Some brooch pins.

A bit of glue.

A camera and tripod.

Some background paper.

Now it's time to get started ...

Step 2: Download and open the free Inkscape software

Picture of Download and open the free Inkscape software
If you haven't already got Inkscape installed, head on over to and download the latest version of Inkscape for your computer.

Inkscape is great, not only is it free to use, but it will work on Windows, Mac OS X and most flavors of Linux.

Once you've downloaded the Inkscape application, follow the installation steps.

Once you've installed it, open up Inkscape on your screen so it's ready for the next step ...

Step 3: Download and open free Inkscape design templates

Picture of Download and open free Inkscape design templates
You're now ready to download and open the Ponoko Starter Kit for Inkscape.

Once you've downloaded the Starter Kit, you'll see there are 3 Ponoko design templates for Inkscape to choose from.

For this jewelry item you'll be working with the smallest material size available - it is called the "P1" (short for Ponoko material size #1).

Open the P1.svg Ponoko design template in Inkscape. To do this you can double click on the svg file or use the menu options inside Inkscape (File > Open) and then find the P1.svg file from there.

After you open the P1.svg file in Inkscape, you'll see an orange box with the words 'Safe Area'. This is the area in which your design must fit. It's dimensions are 7.1 x 7.1 inches or 181 x 181 mm.

(If you're interested, the Starter Kit also includes the Ponoko Making Guide which contains all sorts of helpful information about designing and making with Ponoko).

Now it's time to get all creative and design something ...

JohnM324 months ago

I’ve known designers who place their pricing at about double anyone else
in the area. It works. They are good — and if the client wants that
level of work, then they know it’s going to cost. So, in my point of view, the design price totally depends upon the project, and how much work i do for the
project and also include other factors like extra work if given by the
clients, Or just ask the clients about their budget and do the designing
as per that.

People who make things to sell so often fail to account for their total costs, including the cost of their labor. As a one-off item, the true cost certainly isn't $4. You might be "out of pocket" $4, but that isn't your cost.

Thank You for the explanation, your post is very helpful and "instructable."

I am confused why someone could not distinguish the difference between an effort that is helpful and self-serving spam. If you work for the company, it is even better, I expect the information to be more accurate.

Thank You for the Inkscape tip as well, I was not aware of that tool.

Keep up the good work!
jeriellyn3 years ago
Actually, as I see now, there are several of these tutorials on this site from this person...selling the same site product. This person needs to be banned as they are breaking the terms and conditions of this site. How about it, Instructables??
jeriellyn3 years ago
As it was not stated at the gitgo that this person worked for this company and then the tutorial has major SPAM and despiration for clients written all over it. For SHAME! It would have been nice to see this tutorial with some truth in front of it. It's always best to be upfront right away.
Bloopism4 years ago
I still don't quite understand's confusing to me, I'd like a tutorial to understand how the thing is supposed to work. They make the designs that you give them into products? Do people buy directly from their site instead of from you...confusing.
rhoaste4 years ago
I lost it at the title... Laser cutter for under $4. LOL what a farce.
Batness5 years ago
This doesn't feel too spammy to me, mostly because I'd love to figure out how to use Ponoko. My biggest complaint is that if someone wanted to make a few different small items this doesn't seem to be the way to do it; the making cost is too high for personal use.
jdlewis6 years ago
Thanks for your comments guys - I work with Dan (aka the author of this Instructable) at Ponoko. We'd surely welcome a category as per your suggestions - we do always check with Eric before posting. Y'know the reason we use Instructables is because it's a great and easy way for us to prepare and present this info for our own users. Is there any one (or more) thing that we can do that would improve our Instructables in your eyes?
'Fess up from the get-go that this is posted by someone who works for Ponoko. Cuz it's still great info to have, but now I feel like I don't want to use it because it wasn't presented in an up-front way.
akimbo m6 years ago
Hmm... ya think it would be a good idea to have an official section where we can at least know that such posting is an attempt at advertising but has a little bit of instructable value?
In other words... encourage transparency
dchall86 years ago
Am I the only one that sees this as SPAM? It's very well done SPAM but it sure looks like SPAM to me.
Just a smidge. It does instruct a bit.
Sure it instructs a lot, but it is still advertising for a service. All of this author's I'bles send you to the same website, so they all look like SPAM to me? I think there should be a special category for the Instructables that happen to have Instructable value but at the same time advertise their products and services. Dremel just posted five that fall into this category.
I didnt see the others, sounds like a bannin to me
Oh yeah. I just gave you 5 stars btw. I know what I want for christmas now, a laser cutter and if I can't get one of those then a gift card to ponoko.
Great Instructable! I have been a little hesitant about working with ponoko because I didn't really understand the whole process. This is a great guide! Thanks for everything!, Joe
Kaiven6 years ago
Wow! Awesome!