Introduction: Laser-Cut Apache Helicopter

3D models are great gifts for kids and adults! Learn how to make a wooden 3D  model from any picture for a gift or just for yourself!

What did you make?

     I made wooden model of an Apache helicopter. I originally made it as a gift to my younger brother but thought I would go ahead and make an instructable! Since it is just a model it doesn't really do much except sit there and look really cool! The materials I used were a laser cutter (thanks to my awesome job! and boss), wood, and the Corel Draw program.

How did you make it?

     I am the new laser operator at the place I work (Creative Pewter Designs) and my boss gave me a key to the building and told me to practice making stuff and cutting it out with the laser cutter. I have started to cut many things and got the idea to make this when Christmas was coming up. I had not got anything for my younger brother so I thought he might like it if I cut him something.
     Basically, I took an image I found online of an Apache and traced it on the program CorelDRAWX4. I then made different layers for the model so that it would have a 3D look. I also added some detail to each of the pieces which I think made it look a whole lot better (my little brother thought so too!) After I had finished all of the pieces I cut them out with the laser and assembled it to make sure it all went together well, then I dis-assembled it, wrapped it up, and gave it to my brother.

Where did you make it?

     I did most of the work at home. But then when I had completed drawing all of the pieces I had to finish the rest at work and cut it out there. Since it was a gift for my little brother I brought it home and helped him assemble it after he opened it on Christmas.

What did you learn?

     I learned how to make a 3D model from wood. I wasn't following any instructions or tutorials so I had to figure everything out on my own. I also learned how to use CorelDRAWX4 better which is helping me greatly at work, this is very important since my boss is depending on me.

You will need:
-Laser cutter
-A program that is compatible with your laser (I am using Corel draw x4)
-A picture of the model you desire to make
-Wood (I am using 3 ply finished birch)
-Wood glue

Step 1: Choosing Your Model

I suggest you choose something fairly simple and nothing too extreme, for this instructable I have chosen an AH-64 Apache.
Once you know what you want to make, find a picture online or from a book that gives you a good front, side, and top view of the object. Having a picture of the top, side, and front will help greatly in designing your model. It's very helpful to have a "line drawing" of the image as well, I simply searched "Apache" into Google and filtered out the images so that it only displayed the "line Drawings" Below is the picture I used for the Apache model. Try to find the simplest picture possible, nothing that has to much detail.

Step 2: Planning

This is the hardest step but crucial if you want a great looking model. You will need to decide how many layers the model will be and what the different layers are.
This is where your front view image comes in handy. I planned and figured it out as I went along.

Step 3: Tracing

This is probably the most tedious step, but it's not hard.  First, open your program, I'm using CorelDRAWX4. Then start outlining your first layer( I used Polyline), make sure you use your cutting color, for me it is red.  On this layer do not worry about the wheels, props, or gun, just get the basic outline. Now add some detail to the shape, I traced the window shield, the back wheel, and some detail lines on the body of the helicopter.

Now just continue to outline and add detail, look at the pictures to follow along.

Once you have made all your pieces you will have to remember that you need two of each piece (excluding the rotor, prop, and the horizontal stabilizer) just simply copy and paste all of the pieces, remember to mirror them though so you get the other half.

Step 4: Cut It Out

Print it Out!

Before you do this make sure you are printing  only the selected image and that the right printer is selected. Also check to make sure you have the colors set at the right speed, I set them at: Red-4.5, Cyan-35, Green-25, all at 100% power.

Step 5: Assemble!

Now assemble your creation, I used just normal wood glue and it worked great!

I did have to fix the rotor by dremeling it to make it round (my little brother insisted that it would be able to spin) but that was about the only major fix I had to do.

Step 6: Admire

I hope you enjoy your new model!

Let me know if you have any questions!



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