Laser Cut Snowflake Ornament

Introduction: Laser Cut Snowflake Ornament

This year my girlfriend and I decided to make a few snowflake ornaments to give away to friends and family for the holidays.  I recently learned to use the new Trotec Laser at TechShop.  This project was perfect for testing out different settings on the laser since we ended up cutting about 25 ornaments. 

To make this Instructable you will need:

1/16"-3/8" sheets of wood 


Laser Cutter

Drawing Software

Step 1: Sheets of Wood

For this project I used sheets of 3/8" Redwood and Poplar.  Plywood is perfectly adequate but if you can I would recommend something nicer.  That being said sheets of hardwood that you would want to use on a laser can get really expensive!  One way to get around dropping a lot of cash on hardwood sheets is to make them yourself.  

I used a band saw to cut sheets from a 2x6 of Redwood and Poplar I scavenged from the scrap bin at my girlfriends architecture school.  Once I got the rough sheets out from the band saw I ran them through a planner to smooth them out.  This can be a little time consuming but very cost effective.  

Step 2: Draw Snowflakes

I used Adobe Illustrator to draw my snowflake but you can do this with any drawing software as long as the file is then converted to a type your laser will recognize.  You can draw these a million different ways but I did them by drawing simple shapes and then arranging them symmetrically.  To get the outlines I need for the laser I simply increased the line weights of my snowflake lines and then combined them into on single shape using 'Pathfinder'.  Then I used 'Outline Stroke' under 'Path' in the 'Object' drop down menu.  

Step 3: Laser Cut Some Ornaments

There can be a lot of little tiny parts in your snowflake design and if your using wood sheets you fabricated yourself you wanna make sure you get all the way through when you do your cuts.  Else you might find yourself with your X-acto blade going over each line by hand to get them the pieces separated.   I had the laser do 2 passes at a medium high power to reduce the chances of burning and guarantee that I cut the whole way through.  

Step 4: Attach a String

I used a couple of different kinds of string and even did a few copper coils on the ones from my mom.   You can get silk wrapped rope from hobby stores that works well.  Depending on the wood you choose you may want to opt for a more natural looking twine like the one shown in the introduction. 

Pretty standard stuff as far as attaching the string.  Tie a loop in a length of string, wrap it around part of the ornament and pull the loop through itself.

Step 5: YOU DID IT!

Now you have a bunch of sweet snowflake ornaments you can gift away!  Sometimes the laser doesn't quite make it through the knots in the wood and you get one like the one in this photo.  Honestly, I like these better.  They really show the what the ornaments were made of and give them a distinctly hand made look.  

If you have any questions feel free to comment.  

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