Laser Cut Cardstock Bookmarks

About: I am a recent graduate from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering currently looking to take the next step in my engineering career. From internship experien...

Reading and and working on projects are two things that I quite enjoy doing in my spare time, and last summer I figured out how to combine the two. I decided to experiment with making bookmarks using a laser cutter. I was very happy with the initial result, so I wanted to share the process that I used. These work great if you want to make yourself some bookmarks to impress your friends, or to give some to them as a gift!

I've provided the bookmarks templates that I have designed in step 2

I included an "optional" second part of this Instructable that includes my experimentation with sealing the bookmarks so that they are water proof, which will hopefully increase their lifespan (because as you imagine, some of the bookmarks are fairly fragile). The sealing that I tested was a bit messier than I would have liked (partially because I used fairly thin card-stock), but I included it here so that you can use it to seal the bookmarks as well if you want.

Step 1: Supplies

Tools:

  1. Laser Cutter
  2. Graphics Editing Software

Supplies [Required]:

  1. Card-stock (thick paper)

Supplies [Optional]:

  1. Brush
  2. Mod Podge (a glue sealant)
  3. Acrylic Sealer

-I recommend using card stock with a thickness of at least 65# (card-stock thickness is measured weird). I only used that thickness because I found it readily available on Amazon in a variety of colors. It worked fine for making bookmarks, but thicker card stock would likely increase the longevity of the bookmarks.
-The optional supplies are if you want to seal using the technique that I tested (to give it a longer life).

Step 2: Designing the Bookmarks

Attached below are the bookmark templates that I made if you want to use them instead of making your own. I created these in Rhino, so I included them in the native file type (.3dm) and also exported them into dxf, which should be more easily imported for most people. Units were in centimeters.

Some general guidelines if you are making your own:

  • the dimensions of my bookmarks are roughly 4-5 x 18-20 cm
  • When creating each bookmark, I found a symbol for the top of the bookmark that would look good sticking out of a book (like the Game of Thrones Stark sigil), and then put text that related to the symbol into the rectangular portion of the bookmark (like the Stark house motto).
  • I recommend using "single stroke fonts" for the text that you use. These work better for laser cutting (which I found better than just engraving the letters because it made the text clearer). Single stroke fonts are faster, and they work better if you plan on cutting the text. You can find different varieties of single stroke fonts free online.
  • For laser cutting, red lines cut, blue lines engrave a line, and black surfaces etches/engraves that surface. So you will want the outline and (if you want) text of the bookmark to be red, and any patterns inside to be blue (so it doesn't cut through).

Step 3: Laser Cut

Then laser cut the bookmarks. If you don't want to seal the bookmarks, then you're done!

-You may want to modify the power of the vector engraving done by the laser cutter (blue lines) to create a deeper (and more visible cut). I found that the engraved lines don't show up well on some colors. This is part of the reason that I decided to cut (use red lines) the quotes that I used; that way they showed up well no matter what.

Step 4: [Optional] Glue

To optionally "seal the bookmarks", I used modge podge glue, and then an acrylic sealant aerosol spray. It does seal the bookmarks, but it also makes the bookmarks more flimsy, which is the main reason why I only recommend doing this optionally.

Apply the glue to the bookmark. I recommend 2-3 coats on both sides. Wait for each coat to dry before applying the next.

-The glue may cause the bookmark to initially curl up, but once you glue both sides, it should flatten out again
-Be careful brushing over the fragile portions to stop from bending or tearing them, but make sure that you paint over every surface (which is why I recommend at least two coats). The glue keeps the acrylic spray from contacting the paper, and if it does you will get dark stain on the bookmark from where the acrylic spray soaked in.

Step 5: [Optional] Acrylic Sealant

Once the glue has been given time to dry, spray on the acrylic sealant. I would recommend about two coats of the spray. I would recommend doing this on wax paper or a similar material. Other materials like cardboard will stick to the bookmark when it gets wet from the spray.

And that's it! Hope you enjoyed the Instructable.

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