K40 Laser Cutter: How to Cut and Engrave in One Job





Introduction: K40 Laser Cutter: How to Cut and Engrave in One Job

The K40 is a budget friendly desktop laser cutter. However, considering that the hardware and software is directly exported from China, it is not user friendly at all. This tutorial shows the end-user how to cut and engrave a pendant in one fell swoop.

Note: This tutorial assumes that you already have the laser cutter setup and the software installed.

Step 1: Think of a Concept.

In this scenario, I am cutting out a lucky charm pendant, but feel free to vary from this design.

Step 2: Now That We Have a Design, Launch CorelLASER From Your Desktop.

Step 3: CorelLazer Preliminary Settings

Before you start designing your pendant, do yourself a favor and change some preliminary settings within CorelLASER. First, change the units to centimeters. Then change your canvas size to 30cm x 20 cm. We change this because this is the maximum cutting area of the K40's bed.

Step 4: Enabling Object Manager

Next,go to the Tools > Object Manager. Once clicked it will add a new pane on the right hand side of CorelLASER.

Step 5: Within the Object Manager Pane, Click New Layer.

Step 6: Rename Layer 1 to Cut, and Rename Layer 2 to Engrave.

Step 7: Creating an Anchor Pixel in the Cut Layer

Make sure the Cut layer is highlighted and place a pixel sized square in the top right hand corner of our drawing.

Note: One of the many quirks of the K40 laser cutter is that you need to put a
pixel in the very top left of your layers. If this is not done, then for some reason the laser cutter doesn't know how properly line things up (between the cutting layers and the engraving layers).

Step 8: Draw the Shape of Your Pendant

Now that all the preliminaries are taken care of lets start to design the shape of our pendant. Make sure the Cut layer is selected and draw a circle. I made my circle orange (for visibility) with the diameter of 3 centimeters.

Note: There are numerous intricacies involved with CorelDraw / CorelLaser. This you will have to learn on your own. ALSO, the K40 software cuts anything that is NOT white.

Step 9: Hole for the Jump Ring

Now that we have the outline of our pendant, draw a small white circle within the large red circle. This is where you would place your jump ring. I made mine .25 centimeters in diameter.

Step 10: Creating an Anchor Pixel in the Engrave Layer

Make sure that the Engrave layer is selected. Place a small 1x1 pixel in the very top left hand corner of our drawing.

Step 11: Creating the Pendant Border

For the border of the design I found a Celtic circle with a transparent background. I imported this design into the drawing and re-sized it. Again this is done on the Engraving layer.

Step 12: Adding the Four Leaf Clover

Next I was able to find a four leaf clover design that I liked and imported it into the Engraving layer.

So our design work is now complete. Pat yourself on the back. The next series of steps explain how to feed this data to the K40 laser cutter.

Step 13: Configuring Our Data Formats

Click the small green pencil icon at the top of CorelLAZER. This will launch a window that allows you to configure the format of the information going to the laser cutter. Make sure that the settings are configured to the following:

Engraving Data: WMF – Normal Windows Metafile
Engraving Area: Only Selected
Cuting Data: WMF – Normal Windows Metafile
Cutting Area: Only Selected.

Note: If you choose other data formats, such as PLT, your cuts may be off.

Step 14: Hiding the Cut Layer

Next click the small eye icon beside Cut layer. This will hide everything we created in the cut layer.

Step 15: Select the Engraving Layers

Using the pointer tool click and drag to select everything on the engrave layer. Notice on the Object manager pane, all the designs are highlighted in blue.

Step 16: Click the Engraving Button Towards the Top.

Step 17: Configuring the Engrave Settings

There are some important parameters that need set within the engraving window.

We want origin to be at the very top right, so setRefer-X to 0.0000 and set Refer-Y to 0.0000. While on the engrave window, set the Method to Dialogand click add task. After hitting Add Task, the window should close. This tells the laser cutter that this is one of two tasks. Also, it is not a bad idea to make sure your speed is set appropriately. I believe I that 175.00mm/s is a good speed, but then again it all depends on what type of material you are engraving.

Step 18: Hide the Engrave Layer, Enable the Cut Layer

Now that we have the laser engraving setup to our liking. Let's begin on the cutting aspect of things. Click the eye beside the engraving layer to hide the shamrock and border. Click the greyed out eye beside the cut layer to once again reveal our orange circle.

Step 19: Click and Drag to Select All the Shapes Within Our Cutting Layer.

Step 20: Click the Cutting Icon at the Top.

Step 21:

Whenthe cutting window pops up, Make sure your Speed is set to the appropriate setting. For this project I was cutting wood so I did 2 passes 10mm/s @ 50% power. Make sure your origins are set to the appropriate positions (Refer-X: 0 Refer-Y:0). Make sure that Method is set to dialog. This is because this is task 2 of 2. Make sure that the Starting checkbox is selected. This check box means that the laser cutter will begin cutting as soon as you click Add Task.

Step 22:

Click Add Task. If everything goes correctly the laser cutter should start to engrave your project and ultimately cut your project.

For your convenience, I've attached the CorelDraw file to this instructable. If you are running into problems, it might be able to help you out!

Thanks for looking at my Instructable.



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    24 Discussions

    If you guys wanna get away from USB drive and corel draw try. Inkscape with k40 whisperer and zadig driver. I am new to laser cutting and didn't want to be stuck with closed source software.



    Good Instructable, thanks for posting!

    I tinkered around with the stock software with pretty decent results. A month ago I ran across a free application called K40 Whisperer from Scorchworks.com that works with the stock controller board. It makes it sooo much easier to use!


    I followed this tutorial and I managed to have a jobe done, but not with 100% succes. I do not understood how to create : a pixel sized square.

    Because of this - the text inside the shape was not centered because of that anchor pixel(I think).

    So, I should create a square up in the left corner, but what size? In the picture I sew 0.635 cm? is this the corect size?

    Hello, when i start a task like this, the program always stops when the engrave part is done and ask to start the next task (cut). i don't find the mistake. hope you can help me to do this in one part... thanks

    I just ordered one of these machines (and an air assist head, and a spare lens/mirror set), it seems they aren't calling it the K40 anymore, but simply 'Generation 3' or 'KIII'.

    Priced in at under $400 to your door. Hard not to have a look before building a big one. If it mods up well, I may put a 60watt laser in it.

    I've already built a CNC mini mill and mini lathe, and was planning on scratch building a laser for cutting aircraft Plywood (I fly giant scale planes).

    It says in the specs it works with Moshidraw (greek to me, I'm an Autocad/Draghtsight guy), which combines the functions of 'Newlydraw' and 'Newlyseal' according to the spec sheet. I built machinery like this for 40 oddyears, so I'm sure I can get it working, mechanically, but it's looking like I may have to pull the controller and set it up to run Mach 3 or something I'm competent at. Unless someone like you takes me to school.

    I respect your determination in sorting it out, having been there myself. There seems to be quite a lack info on the Moshidraw and Corel variants. Corel Draw (full) is $300+ (unless you go student), so I guess I better start learning yet another drawing suite. Just got done learning 'Studio 3' for my plotter cutter. Now I'm retired, I can't afford Autocad anymore since Autodesk decided to bleed you yearly instead of all at once.

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial, and kindly sharing your cutfile. I appreciate it.

    Hopefully I'll be back to report my glorious success in setting up my new CNC laser and my 1st project, appropriately enough, a lucky charm! (I will need it)

    Thanks again, Scott

    6 replies

    Where did you get it this for under $400?

    There's several places on the bay selling them in that range.

    I guess they've come down a lot in the last year or so.

    I got mine from a place going by "GlobalFreeShipping" and can vouch for them. My unit came in trashed, the water pump and exhaust fan were just placed in the cutting chamber, and it was sent like that. All the way from China to Ca, and then Ca to NY, they rolled around and battered the cutting head, carriage, and the optics to death.
    After checking the laser for operation, I sent them pictures and after a bit of back and forth, I settled for a $200 refund for repairs. They were prompt, courteous and professional. I machined a new carriage on my mill, replaced the mirrors, and straightened the motion control. I came out allright, the machine work took me a couple of evenings, and about $50 for the mirrors and lens. I upgraded to an aluminum air assist head assembly with a larger lens and that cost another $30 - a deal, as it would have taken me 6 or 6 hours to make one. I spent the money I was ahead on a blower large enough to use for my shop machinery (8" 800cfm)
    All in all I guess I mad out OK, except for the software...

    I've done a bit of test cutting, and it's working well.
    I was just getting around to your file. The software I received was Corel Laser and Laser DRW, both activated with a USB key.
    The Laser Draw works, but is quite spartan, and offers few drawing tools, it's mostly just a control driver.
    Maybe you can help me with the Corel Laser? It starts up by going through and confirming the USB is valid (WinXPSeal), but then errors out, with an error window stating "The Corel Draw Ver>=11 software not installed!"
    I have tried several methods of loading and starting it, but with no success. If I do a clean install, reboot, and start it, it goes to a website which comes on briefly in chinese, then goes to a "website not found" error.
    I looked around for a free version or something to replace the supplied version with, but had no luck.
    Any suggestions?

    Hey Scott594. I had the same error. Downloaded a trial version of Corel and it didn't work either. Then I found a RAR file on the CD that came with the Laser. It has the Corel Draw 12 install files. So I unZIPed it onto the C drive, and ran the Setup.exe to install the RAR Corel included, and then reinstall Corel Laser. Then the error disappeared.

    Hope that helps.

    This comment saved me, thank you for exposing the obvious. Appreciated

    Did you get the problem solved with the "The Corel Draw Ver>=11 software not installed!"? My laser worked a good year before getting this prompt, any help appreciated.



    If you haven't already solved this problem, maybe it will help someone else, if you don't have Winrar loaded on your computer you can not load the Corel Draw v12 file.

    Thank you so much for this turorial, I have just started with laser cutting and found this to be off great help......

    Original message:"Did you get the problem solved with the "The Corel Draw Ver=11 software not installed!"? My laser worked a good year before getting this prompt, any help appreciated.Thanks,Rick"

    Sorry about that Rick, I'm not well versed in the Instructables system, and your question doesn't show when I follow the link. I tried to reply, but id doesn't seem to have made it thru to you.
    Hope this does.

    I've only been using the Corel plug-in for 3 or 4 months, and it's worked the same since I got it installed. I'm pretty much a hardware guy and I had to get help myself to get the Corel setup working properly. My problem was that there were hidden files (the installer program) on the included K40 disk in a unusual format that my reader (FreeViewer) didn't detect properly.

    Usually if a program stops working like that, it's the result of a windows update. You may want to try "clocking back" your system using Windows "Restore" to a date before the problem occurred and see if that helps. If so, you'll have to identify the exact update responsible and exclude it.. The Google K40 guys should be able to shed more light on the problem.

    I'm changing the controller board to a "Smoothieboard" which has a large following and a lot of opensource software downloadable from Github.

    I spend most of my time on the Google K40 community, they have about 1200 members using the K40 and the braintrust there can help you out of most any problem.
    (Search "Google K40 Laser Community"). I'm Scott Marshall, and use that name there.

    If you want to contact me directly, My Email is Scott594@aol.com, please identify yourself as I erase unknown senders as a matter of course.
    I'll help more then if I can, or direct you to the folks who can.


    There's a Seller on Ebay known as "Globalfreeshipping" They're well known (and Trusted) on the Google K40 forum.

    If you're interested, that's THE place for real user info/support. Just do a search for 'Google K40 community' and you should find it. 1200 or so K40 owners doing unimagineable things with the little K40.

    They're helpful folks and it's a good place to learn what you're getting into before you buy.


    Thanks so much! apart from it taking me 20mins to figure out why the tool bar keeps disappearing this tutorial was exactly what I needed :)

    1 reply

    I have the same problem with the disappearing toolbar. Did you figure out how to avoid it?

    When the first task started, it engraved as it should. The cutting task, however, only gave two short "twitches" of the laser head and said it was done. Less than a second, and the laser itself never activated.. Any ideas where I went wrong?

    I was wondering how do you set the power for the two different operations? or do you just set it to the cutting power and leave it at that during both operations, and just change the speed to compensate?

    Great post , mine has different software but the principle worked. First time i gave managed to cut and engrave with everything lined up.

    Thank you for the guidànce. It worked a great. I now have to master the focal length, I didn't realise 1mm would make so much difference. Thanks again for your help.