Laser Cutter Box Making
I was making a game, and needed a box for stowing the game pieces. So why not use a laser cutter? With TechShop access to one, all I needed was a design. The box seen here has a number of design points:
- The top has a tab on each side for it to set into the box.
- The box bottom is set by small tabs into the four sides of the box. Along with the corner tabs between the side panels, there is maximum rigidity to the box.
- The keep the top securely on the box, there is a cutout in the middle bottom of each side. A ribbon inserts through these slots to form a secure tie down.
The wood is, typically, a 1/4″ birch plywood. The box generator program can accept wood of other thicknesses.
The plywood sheets were cut into 18″x24″ panels acceptable for inserting into the laser cutter.
The wood was sanded, stained, sanded, finished with a few coats of polyurethane, and sanded again. Lastly it is covered with a slightly tacky masking tape covering the entire panel. This is to prevent damage to the finished surface from the hot exhaust gases coming off the cutting point.
The 60W laser cutter was set for 90% power (shop rules) and a slow rate to give it time to cut through the thickness of the wood.
Try out the laser cutter box generator yourself. You set the dimensions of your box, and download a pdf file containing the outline for the laser cutter to follow for cutting out the pieces for the box.
I use CorelDraw to import the pdf file, and arrange the pieces on a 18″x24″ page as best they can fit. It is this CoreDraw file that is used to drive the laser cutter. One particular efficieincy is to take long edges, say between two side panels, and make them in common. Be sure to remove the extra edge from one of the box sides as the laser cutter follows each edge to cut, and that takes time.