In this post I will show you how I conceived a beautifull laser-cutted wooden cube.
Figure 1: Two of the cube faces
The first step I took was to conceive a 3D model of the cube to ensure that each piece fit well when assembled. I wanted to used open-source tools so I used the FreeCAD software, which was unfortunately buggy. Undo/redo was not working properly (tip for the developpers of FreeCAD: use immutable data-structures!) so I used Git for snapshotting the model in case anything went wrong. Each face of the cube was then projected on a plan inside FreeCAD. You can find the final work here. There are already existing tools and websites to conceived such wooden cubes or boxes with laser-cutters but I wanted to do everything myself.
The second step was to edit the files in Inkscape to add the letters and specify the cutting, engraving and marking areas with different colors.
The third step was to import the file in VisiCut and map the color to the laser operations and adjust the settings. Different laser cutters models have different software requirements.
The fourth step was to calibrate the laser. This is not as hard as it sounds. Basically you just need to adjust the distance between the laser head and the wood. It is easy to do after somebody explain it to you.
The fifth step was to do a few experiments on the laser cutter to get the setting right. For example the first trial did not cut through the wood, then the intensity of the marking was not good enough etc. Playing with the speed and the power of the laser allows to get different results.
How does a laser-cutter looks like? Look on YouTube.
This is the cube once cutted and assembled (without glue):
Figure 2: Final result
It makes a really nice present:
Figure 3: A gift
You can get access to laser cutters at your local FabLab / Maker-Space / Hacker-Space.