Introduction: Large Laser Cut Letters and Forms

About: Actually unemployed

Again sorry about the misuse of the language
(sorry i use a few weeks making this but in a mistake google chrome erase all the introduction and the page save the changes)

If someone can use this i'll be glad

i´ll try to explain how i made some letters in corel draw ( really i need some suggest in another software for 3D use of hinges)

1.- hinge cut and a little explanation
2.- the design
3.- tips
4.- manufacturing
5.- thanks and files

Step 1: Hinge Cut and a Little Explanation

Hinge cut is a great part of the work but the same way it use a lot of time for cut, so we need to make it simple and use the bigger size we can
the ability for fold can be increased with more together hinges but some times the thickness of the material and the high of the cut don´t help in some case you need to change the kind of hinge
some curves can be done with really big hinges and combine with small hinges in critical parts for example in the photo with the "e" one straight part then a together hinge for the detail and a huge hinge for the rest
hinge isn´t hard to design or use only need some practice

Step 2: The Design

Well i think this is the hard part, if i use square letters the design it´s not a ploblem just check for the correct parts and cuts, and in one or two days i finish all the design, we take less than 1 week for finishing a big sign,but if the font have a lot of curves heres come the problems (maybe with other software can relieve the work) sometimes i take more than a week for finish the design (i start cutting after i finish the first letter)

like i said i use corel draw (and a lot of imagination)
start with the parts that can be done easier (the lines) make a bar with the thickness of the material (consider and calculates the width of the cut) and divide in equal parts, (need to be nones) if you make pairs you only have one way of use, but if you use nones the upper part can be used down or inverted
TIP:i use 2 colors one black and the other white, then i remove 1 group of colors and i have the cuts from 1 side , and in the other part i remove the other color

use the same part a lot of times: the thickness of the letter is the same for all the letters, if you use a square font like impact a lot of letters use the same part like the "I" you can use 2 pieces 2 times and use the same piece for the side of the "E", "F" etc and more than the half for the "T" and the base of the "I" needs a minium of work for fit the base of the "F", "T", "Y" etc

the problem with the curves: needs live hinges cut and holes for the alignment

for the live hinges, i use the same thickness for the parts in line and curves trying the parts for the hinge don´t get out of the curve and the angle don´t become huge (img 3 and 5)

wen you have the parts of the hinge in the curve yo need to make the cut file, just add the lines for the cut and use black and white parts for the side cuts , sometimes you need diferent size of hinges in the same part (img 6)

Step 3: Tips for Strengthening

The letters are strong enough to support the weight of an average person but I recommend that if they have height to sit, put some reinforcement inside, that way we can make sure no one gets hurt (in one photo i write the weight of the testing team)
for almost all the resistance problem use hard wood for make some kind of skeleton inside, with cheap wood can be done

What kind of risk should the letters need to support?

I used one as a ladder, maybe someone else have the same idea

if they have height to sit, people love photos and maybe they want one seated on the sign, (i made the same sign in 1.80 mts height and we reinforce someparts like the stick of the "L" and i see some picture with people standing and sitting there )

Damage from people falling with the letter, the letters of this kind are for decoration and need to be moved to one or another place, sometimes people fall with the letter and we don´t want people hurt with a broken part of wood.

Transportation as seen in the photos the letters are empty inside, the weight isn´t big but the size say other thing, they was to be used as a base and all the other stuff finish upside the letters

Water problems.
The people some times put the sign in wet grass few days (think in a hotel, the sign welcome the visitors with the beutiful grass in the base and in the night someone water the grass) 3 days after the letters have some damage in the base and sides
Use automotive putty paint and silicone wax in the base and in a small part of the sides, helps a lot.

weight vs height
The higher the easier they fall, i made a 2.2 mts sign i change the thickness in the base for gain some weight and a bigger base, then a coworker hit softly the letter with his shoulder and the letter fall.
we add a small hole in the base and use some sand in bags inside (that way you can remove the sand and move the letter easily)

The kids
with small letters, kids wanna play and often they push the letters and drop it, if you fix all the other problems let the kids play, just put in place the letter again

Step 4: Manufacturing

After the desing is done and the parts cutted needs to be assemble

Tools and material
i use a pneumatic Stapler, pneumatic Orbital sander and white glue or carpenter's glue, if needed some drywall screws

Work to do
first order the parts, some times for better use of space in the laser cutter or materials I sent parts in disorder
after founding the parts and assemble the letters using mask tape.

I start by putting glue and stapling the parts, after finishing i sart the firs sanding process with a 80 grain sand for remove or correct problems with the staples or glue drops, after that start the process for cover the hinges and problems with automotive putty.

after the automotive putty dry start the sand process with sand papers grain 60 then 80 and 120. here you need to clean the letters and apply some automotive primer.

after the primer get dried it need to be sanded again, this part need to be repeated 2 or 3 times.

now paint the letters wait until dry (that depend on the kind of paint yo decide to use) Sometimes for a better finish you need 2 or 3 hands of paint

now it´s time to make it shine a lot of silicone wax make the work easy

Note: i add some small shoes-tips (sorry i don´t know the name in english but in spanish is regatón (

Step 5: Thanks

I hope that this instructable helps someone
i let the original file with all the mess i do but maybe someone can take parts of the file or learn something
the file use corel 14 and above

enjoy and good luck

PS: i found in facebook a picture of the work, i share it