Introduction: Lasercut Plywood Violin

Picture of Lasercut Plywood Violin

This violin was the winning entry to the Laserworks Contest @ MADE festival in Roskilde, Denmark in August 2014. The contest rules were simple: build something out of max 5 sqm 3mm plywood within 8 laser cutting hours + assembling time. My contest partner and I created six instruments (violin, ukulele, cajón, monkey drum, ocarina and güiro/rattle) with me being mainly responsible for string instruments.

The violin (as all of the other instruments) can be played but does not sound particularly nice but rather flat. I suppose the sound could be enhanced a bit by creating a body of sound. Please feel free to download my files, hack my design and build an improved version :)

Note added on Nov 19th 2014: I have now finally uploaded my files. I changed the design of various small parts a thousand times during the contest, so I am not sure, which parts exactly I used. I therefore planned to print the violin again from scratch, but unfortunately I do not find time for it, so now I have just uploaded the parts I think I used. There might therefore be some mistakes in the files, but feel free to just change accordingly. And let me know if you think anything is missing!

Step 1: Cutting the Files

Picture of Cutting the Files

I drew everything from scratch in Illustrator. During the contest, I improved small details again and again, so don't get frustrated if you find something that doesn't fit and just change it yourself :)

Step 2: Glueing Small Parts

Picture of Glueing Small Parts

I have created three square spacers and four round spacers. The squared ones are placed in between the cross bars while the round ones are placed near the edges. The small square holes are added to make it easier to stack and assemble the pieces. Also, you can already prepare the snail. (Please note that there are probably way too many round pieces, as I also used them for another instrument).

Step 3: Bending the Fingerboard

Picture of Bending the Fingerboard

I found it really tricky to bend the fingerboard and tried different things. What turned out to work best for me was to put the laser out of focus by lowering the table with the plywood and then cut deep lines 3/4 through the material (make sure to make a few tests with a small piece to find the right adjustment). To cut entirely though the edges of the fingerboard, I just added one or two layers in the same file, so that the laser would go around the board a few times. This can obviously be done in a more intelligent way ;)

I then soaked the board in warm water which made it contract itself. After having prepared the bottom of the fingerboard (a flat piece and two thinner and shorter pieces on top - see the picture), I glued the wet piece on top and secured it over night.

Step 4: Preparing the Body for Assembling

Picture of Preparing the Body for Assembling

The 'walls' are made of sliced, bendable pieces of plywood. In order to attach them to the top and bottom of the violin, I have created a kind of retainers that the walls can fit into. The outer side of the outer piece follows the exact shape of the violin while the inner side of the same piece does not (see in the middle at the waist of the violin). This is because I couldn't get the sliced walls to make such sharp turns without breaking.

I glued the inner retainer about 5 mm away from the outer retainer but could probably have made a much tighter fit, so maybe you could try with 3 mm room between the two retainers.

Step 5: Assembling the Body

Picture of Assembling the Body

Now, you need to assemble the whole thing. I started with the bottom and the crossbars and then added the spacers. Next, I attached the walls and finally the top part including the bridge.

Step 6: Finalising the Violin

Picture of Finalising the Violin

Finally, add strings and pegs. Voilá!

I just started playing with laser cutters a few months ago (I am a business student and usually have nothing to do with design ;) and this is my first real laser cutting project. I am sure that there are tons of things you could improve, so please feel free to build your own, hack the design and let me know your thoughts and improvement suggestions! I look forward to seeing your new violins :)


Lee AnnH (author)2017-10-03

Thanks to LudwigWW I have finally managed to upload the cutting files. The mistake was that I only uploaded the files without assigning them to a specific step. So thanks again LudwigWW for your help! Have fun making the violin everybody :)

Lee AnnH made it! (author)2017-09-27

Hey, I still haven't found out how to upload the .ai files, so that you can just download them. I had them uploaded in the comments, but they have also disappeared now. I have tried to upload the files direct and to upload a zip folder (see picture) but it still doesn't seem to work. Any input, anyone?

LudwigWW (author)Lee AnnH2017-09-27

For anyone wondering the same thing: The files have been uploaded, but not assigned to one of the steps of the instructable yet, thus being unavailable for viewers. See my private message for more details! Also looking forward to trying out this instructable soon!

NanetteD1 made it! (author)2017-06-14

I made the violin, great to do! Lee Annh, what do you think about it?

Lee AnnH (author)NanetteD12017-06-14

YAY! Looks fantastic :) Hope it was fun to build!

jmmestdagh01 made it! (author)2017-05-09

I made the violin, it was a great design. I did alter some details. Super cool project!

Lee AnnH (author)jmmestdagh012017-05-11

Awesome! It looks really good :)

Fridgecritter (author)2016-11-15

I upgraded to premium but I don't see any AI files for download under the download link. It only downloads a PDF with the photos and instructions on it.

As far as I know, Premium is only needed for downloading the actual PDF of the instructable itself, the actual build files whatever format they take (.ai, .dxf, svg., etc.) are available to anyone, anytime. Normally, they should be added as downloads at the time the instructable is created. I have been watching this for 2 years and all I've ever seen is promises to "upload" the files "soon". I don't really believe he had any intention of adding them and now they magically appear as Adobe Illustrator (.ai) files in the comments. I believe he thought he had something going on that he needed to hold back the files for and now that has changed for some reason so he suddenly does have them?

Lee AnnH (author)dhaykus04182016-11-28

Thank you dhaykus0418 for the mistrust. This is my first and only instructables, I haven't used the site before or after this one-off project, and I have kindly asked for help to upload the files correctly (I can see the ai files in the instructables, so I thought it was correct). Too bad that you for 2 years haven't felt the need to help out instead of just watching the issue. What exactly do you think I needed to hold the files back for? Seriously, I find that quite interesting :D Have a nice day, and please start helping us beginners <3

P.S. I am a she, not a he :)

Lee AnnH made it! (author)2016-11-16

Hey everybody. For some reason, you can't download the files, although I have uploaded to .ai files to this instructable. Does anyone know what I can do so that they can be downloaded? Thanks in advance :)

CristóbalC11 (author)2016-09-03

hello friend! i run an after school music program and we will be making cardboard violins with the children to teach them all the different parts of the violin and how to properly take care of the instrument before giving them they begin playing the real one. your design is just awesome! would you be willing to share the files with us? thanks in advance!!!

Lee AnnH (author)CristóbalC112016-09-04

Thanks for your comment. You can download the files from the site if you are a premium member.
Lee Ann

Hey :) I'm also interested in your awesome design, the thing is I'm not quite sure what you mean by premium member... I have an account and there's no signs of an upgrade option

lelefry99 (author)2016-04-11

Where can I get the files

Lee AnnH (author)lelefry992016-04-11

There are two .ai files (under 'Download') with everything that needs to be cut. Enjoy :)

MilkenFabLab (author)Lee AnnH2016-09-23

Hi, for me the .ai files are missing, the only download there is for the pdf of instructions. Could you upload them when you get the chance?

I'm not sure about you, but the files aren't showing up for me. The entire Download section is missing. Can you fix it?

figacat (author)2016-04-24


can i have the files for the Cajun?


Lee AnnH (author)figacat2016-04-27


I don't have the files anylonger, but you can just make a box in boxmaker and cut a hole. I also added some crossbars for stability and some scrap metal for sound. Have fun building it!


I think the download tab disappeared for this, I can't find it on the page. Can you fix it?

netrix (author)2015-12-01

Anyone built this? I just saw this and was curious about the sound, complexity of the build etc...

jaseel1 (author)2015-08-27

Where is the files?

axeljaeger (author)2015-05-28

Where can I download the files? I just got pro, downloading of the pdf still not works but according to the documentation of pdf, I have my doubts that it will include cutting templates

kresi (author)2014-12-13

Hi, still curious about the Sound of the violin. What about the files?

Lee AnnH (author)kresi2014-12-14

The printing files are all uploaded. Haven't gotten the violin anymore, so cannot upload a sound bit unfortunately.

wavelet_spaghetti (author)2014-10-30

beautiful! i'm a violinist, would love to hear the sound of the finished instrument :)

Thanks :) Unfortunately the sound is very flat, but I will upload some samples when I have built another one!

Victor Does (author)2014-10-15

Great! My granddads father was a violin builder. Maybe now I can make one my self! Just need to fine a laser cutter first :P

Lee AnnH (author)Victor Does2014-10-15

Thanks! There are quite some few FabLabs around the world where you have access to a laser cutter :)

Victor Does (author)Lee AnnH2014-10-15

Fantastic, I will see what I can find. :) Thanks!

caleb_daveport (author)2014-10-03

Can i have the files?

Lee AnnH (author)caleb_daveport2014-10-05

Yes, I will upload the files soon!

caleb_daveport (author)Lee AnnH2014-10-15

have them yet?

Lee AnnH (author)caleb_daveport2014-10-15

No sorry - too busy at the moment, but will upload them when I have found all the right parts. I several changed parts over and over again so need to print it again to find the right ones.

mountainmasha (author)2014-09-28

Awesome build! You'll have to post a video of the electric violin so we can hear how it sounds.

Lee AnnH (author)mountainmasha2014-09-30

Thanks a lot :) Will do so when I am done with it!

bigburcie (author)2014-09-08

Dr Evil keeps screaming in the back of my head "Instruments, made with frickin laser beams!!!" Very cool. If you have the method and design figured out, it would not be hard to transfer the design to a solid wood panel instead of plywood.

Lee AnnH (author)bigburcie2014-09-09

Haha, thank you very much :) I am planning on making an electric violin in acrylic soon, so looking very much forward to that!

marialescor (author)2014-09-07

you made the guitar too? how does it sound? can I get the file?

Lee AnnH (author)marialescor2014-09-08

I also made the ukulele. It doesn't sound very good (plywood...) but it can play. I might upload it when I am done with the violin files!

Verticees (author)2014-09-06

Even if it doesn't sound as good as a profession violin, this is still breathtaking! Have you considered making a cello?

Lee AnnH (author)Verticees2014-09-07

Thanks a lot! I play the violin myself, which is why I built that instrument. I don't have any plans building a cello but the next project is an electric violin :)

bob3030 (author)2014-09-06

If the sound is not quite right it could be a good candidate for a MIDI pickup. That could make this or a similar design a wonderful instrument.

Lee AnnH (author)bob30302014-09-07

I am already planning on building an electric violin, so I totally agree :)

john1a (author)2014-09-06

This is great! Congratulations!

Do you share the files somewhere?

Lee AnnH (author)john1a2014-09-07

Thanks a lot! As written in the instructable, the files will follow soon so that you can print your own.

dhaykus0418 (author)2014-09-06



Lee AnnH (author)dhaykus04182014-09-07

As written in the instructable, they will follow soon.

watchmeflyy (author)2014-09-05

Amazing use of lawercutter!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a Danish/Taiwanese/German woman who likes to learn new skills :)
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