How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

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How to customize skateboard grip tape (laser cutter)

Dude! Laser cutters rule. Just ask anyone that's ever been to a Tech Shop.  You can easily etch and/or cut many materials with the laser cutter. I am only going to cut in a small area... etching wouldn't really be effective for several reasons on this project, especially since we are going to cut from the backside of the material. I made this at Tech Shop (Pittsburgh).

Material list:
Laser cutter (or Tech Shop membership)
Stock sheets of skate board grip tape
Vector based graphics program (I prefer Adobe Illustrator, but I will use Corel Draw for this project)
Job Control software (or whatever software that is used by the laser cutter you have access to)
Manual laser focusing device

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Step 1: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step One:
Create the art/design of your choice in the vector based graphic software. To cut using Corel Draw you want to convert your outlines to "hairline" thickness. Tech Shop’s trotec laser is set up to recognize the color red as a cut command, so we will also make sure to convert our outlines to red at this time. For the skateboard grip tape we will be cutting from behind, so you are going to want to reverse or put your design in “mirror” mode.
For this project I used a stencil style font and typed "Plankeye" since I was making these for my buddy's shop, Plankeye Board Shop. As a design tip, you want to make sure what your cutting is going to look right.  Example: the inside section of an “O” is going to fall out if you don’t design it in a way that allow the inside section to connect to the remaining material.

Step 2: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step Two:
Print your design (you want to select the laser cutter as the printer). This will output your design to the “Job Control” software. Once in the JC program look to the job list on the left of the screen, you will find your file and drag it onto the new “Plate”.  Here you’re going to set the design where you’re going to be doing the cutting on the laser cutter table. Click the little eye icon (WYSIWYG button) to see your design.  Once you are satisfied with the location of your art, move to step 3.

Step 3: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step Three:
Having loaded the grip tape into the laser cutter (top side down) and placed into the machine, you need to make sure your material fits in the machine. The laser I was using had a 19 X 29 bed; skate board grip tape is generally 33”. I had to make sure to situate the tape so the edges went up the sides of the cutter but still stayed under the moving bar that positions the cutter head.  Failure to do this may result in the tape being pushed around after cutting starts and mess up the tape.

Step 4: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step Four:
Now that you have your substrate (skateboard grip tape) in position, you want to use the manual focused tool to adjust the distance of the cutter head so that you will get a good cut. You cannot rely on auto focus as the grip tape may be lower than the table your using in the laser cutter (honey combed table in my case).

Step 5: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step Five:
I used a tape measure to make sure my design was going to be position about 1/3rd of the way down from the tape (in the future I will be placing it 1/3rd up from the bottom), and centered the design on the substrate. My design was about 6.5” wide and grip tape is around 9” wide leaving some trim room for when it’s applied to the deck. Most decks are around 7” wide.

Step 6: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step Six:
You will want to check your settings to make sure you are going to get a good cut. You will probably want to experiment with the settings to find what works for your specific laser and substrate. I found to like 80 Power 2 Velocity 5000 Wave.

Step 7: How to Customize Skateboard Grip Tape (laser Cutter)

Step Seven:
Cut! Watch! Apply to the skateboard!

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    10 Discussions


    6 years ago

    They have them at tech shops? Well I live in Canada and I don't see any tech shops that have a laser cutter -.-

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I just bought a 2500mw hobbyist laser cutter for $250 from It should do jobs like this (bed size is about 12" x 15"). Requires a Windows PC/laptop. A membership at a tech shop (find them at, then click Makerspaces link for about 100 locations) is typically around $100/month, but I've seen them for $50/month ( i3 near Detroit, for example). You'll get access to any equipment you qualify (study) for, some with 24-hour access, and lots of knowledgeable people to get advice from. YMMV.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, the Matthatter. That is kind of the plan, I am a screen printer (mostly t-shirts and I so some product development. I'd like to do more stuff like this for people. I figure I would do the custom grip tapes for a buck a peice plus the cost of the tape and shipping.
    I also have an apparel line that for me started screen printing and just launched a skate oriented line called Boulavard of Allies, but that is all local right now except the Facebook page. If anyone wanted custom grip tape just PM me.

    2 replies

    that is pretty sweet. you could probably start a side business of cutting out shapes out of grip tape

    I don't have one either, hence "I made it at Tech Shop". Not everyone an internet connection in their home... that didn't stop me from posting this on Instrucable.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Sick! I've been wanting to do this for a while but never got around to it. Thanks for sharing!