Inspiration for laser projects can strike anywhere. It hit me when looking over the exceptionally creative DIY site, theDesignConfidential.com, where I came across this tree bookshelf. In the tutorial, they used a paper stencil and jig saw. I knew that this was definitely a project that could not only be done with a laser, but improved. With the author, Rayan Turner’s permission, I took the original plans and turned it into this great laser project, perfect for a child’s room, a school, or a whimsical library.
Step 1: Materials
17 sheets of ½” plywood, cut into 4’ x 2’ sections. Try to choose the flattest pieces possible.
Large format laser cutter, we used a Trotec SP500 laser with 200 watts of power
Step 2: Design
The tree is cut into thirds to fit the sheets of wood. In order to make it more stable when being glued together, there are 2 sets of drawings – each with the cut shifted 1 inch. The final tree is approximately 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. If you would like to change the size of the tree to fit your space, make sure that you scale each drawing appropriately.
Step 3: Laser!
We cut the sheets of plywood on a SP500, 200 watt laser. This laser will accommodate materials up to 49” wide and 28” tall. Depending on how warped your sheets of wood are, you may need to tape down the edges to get the best cut. Also, due to the thickness of the wood, you’ll want to focus the laser “into” the wood a little bit. You can do this by setting the Z-Offset. This will help ensure that the cut is straight, and not at an angle.
Trotec SP500, 200 watt laser cut settings
Power: 100%, Speed: 0.6%, Hz: 5000, Z-Offset: -.10”, Correction: 25
Cut four each of the different Top and Middle sections, and cut one of the Bottom section (it has all 8 trunks on the same board).
Step 4: Assemble
Once the lasering has finished, assemble the pieces using wood glue between each layer and clamping them together until dry. You’ll want to make sure that you use all version 1 pieces for a layer, then glue all version 2 sections as the next layer. This guarantees that the tree is more stable at the section breaks.
After the tree is dry, paint it however you like, or simply stain it, then attach it to the wall.