Introduction: Lasercut Cardboard Dinosaurs

About: I am a queer, transgender, nonbinary, and mixed-race picture book writer/illustrator. As a young person, I didn’t have the words to explain the big feelings I had about my identity and relationships. It is so …

These four piece friction-fit dinosaurs take about 2 minutes each to cut out of cardboard.


  • Laser cutter (although you could probably also do it with an exacto knife.)
  • Cardboard (from a shipping box) -- 1/16 inch plywood and acrylic also work with tweaking
  • Adobe Illustrator (or Inkscape or any other vector editing program)
  • Band saw, Exacto knife, box cutter, or scissors to cut cardboard to appropriate size.

Step 1: Choose Your Material

I like to use cardboard from shipping boxes. I'll either use a box cutter or a band saw to cut it down to the appropriate size to fit on your laser cutter. I've used a Universal Laser Systems laser cutter (32"x18") and an Epilog Xing (16" x 12"). The size of the laser cutter you have access to might vary. Attached PDF includes a single t-rex on a 16" x 12" sheet. You may want to edit the file to include more on a single sheet.

Step 2: Edit File for Your Material (semi-optional)

The joints on this t-rex utilize a pinch-grip that works with varying thicknesses of cardboard. But, if you want to make sure this fits perfectly with your material (shipping box thicknesses vary significantly), go ahead and edit the file using the direct selection tool (A) in Illustrator. Double click on the point you wish to edit and drag in or out to change the fit.

Step 3: Cut Out Your T-rex

Laser cutters vary in speed/power. The Epilog Xing I was using consistently cut well at 100% power, 70% speed. If those settings don't work for you, adjust them up or down until your t-rexes cut all the way through the sheet.

If you aren't using a laser cutter, print out the PDF, glue or tape it to a piece of cardboard, and cut along the lines with an Exacto-knife. It will require multiple passes.

Step 4: Put Together Your Dinosaur

If your cardboard is too thick, pinch it slightly to crush the cardboard.

The dinosaur comes with 2 legs, a body, and torso. Feel free to make it look like a t-rex or to mix 'n match the parts for a mutant creature.


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