Laser Cut an Accurate Ruler




Introduction: Laser Cut an Accurate Ruler

Maybe you need an extra ruler. Maybe you can't find the dozen you already have. Maybe you are about start another laser cutter project and just can't be bothered to get up and get one. What ever the case, if you want a decently accurate ruler cut from a strip of wood, acryllic, or what ever else you have laying around, this is the tutorial for you! 

Step 1: Find Some Scrap

First step is to find some scrap material. [Wood] Recycling is a good place to start. Make sure there is ample unused space for your ruler to be drawn. In this tutorial an 18x24 sheet of plywood is used.

Step 2: Find a Ruler Pattern Online

The easiest way to get a ruler pattern is to download one online. I used 
The ruler may not automatically be drawn to the proper scale, so you will need to import it into illustrator.

Step 3: Scale With Guides for Accuracy

The next step is to adjust the image in Illustrator.  With the object selected, click Object>Live Trace>Make and Expand. This will allow you to delete unwanted parts of your ruler image.  Next select all (CTRL+a) and adjust the settings to for vector cutting on your laser cutter (at Techshop this means black .001pt border and no fill). 
Next rotate and place the ruler on the desired location of your canvas.

Now here is the important part : After making rulers visible (CTRL+R) draw guides at inchmarks corresponding with the canvasses' rulers. You will at least want one at the extremes (1 and 11 inches in my case) , but more will help sanity check which can't hurt. Check that guides are locked (CTRL+ALT+;) and scale the ruler vector to match the guides. 
*note I only show 2 in the screenshot, but I would recommend a minimum of 3

At this point you can run a Vector laser cut at high speed/low power so the pattern is quickly etched onto your material.

Step 4: Cutting Boarder

Create a new layer (call it Cut) and draw a box around the ruler image. This box will be the boarder so you can make it a bit larger than your ruler image (as shown below) , but you should not make it smaller.  Make sure this box is drawn with the same settings for vector cutting. 

Run the laser cutter with appropriate settings for full cutting.

Step 5: Ruler!

Remove the cutout from the base material, and viola you have a ruler! 
* note this could also be a way to catch calibration errors between your Illustrator and Laser cutter.

I made this at Techshop

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