Laser cutters can be used to cut or manipulate a wide range of materials, including wood. For high-end precision wood cutting, many fabricators use either a 2-D or 3-D laser cutter. Key reasons why lasers are favored over other cutting tools when it comes to woodwork is the speed, accuracy and versatility they provide. Here are some of the basics to know about wood cutting projects using laser machines.
Wood Cutting Projects
The list is long for the various applications of precision wood cutting, which is used in many industries. Here are some common examples for cutting wood projects:
- cabinets and shelves
- handles for brooms, silverware, rails
- frames for paintings, doors and windows
- hardwood flooring
- arts and crafts
- decorative panels
Computer numerical control (CNC) machines, in which designs can be programmed and then cutting is automated, speed up production, even for curves and diagonal cuts. Many fabricators use CNC routers for certain woodcutting, but it’s not a universal solution for all types of cuts. These routers are not suitable for sharp angles or wide cuts and often require manual labor to complete the project.
The machines that work best for universal woodcutting, as mentioned earlier, are 2-D and 3-D laser cutters, in which both fall under the CNC umbrella. These laser cutters save time and money compared to traditional methods, while providing a high level of accurate cuts. They are very useful for creating quick high quality prototypes and making last minute adjustments. The concentrated laser in these machines is capable of melting, burning or vaporizing wood.
While the 2-D laser cutter is appropriate for two-dimensional cuts, the 3-D laser cutter is superior for either two-dimensional or three-dimensional cuts. Both machines are effective for cutting a wood thickness of .005 inches to 1 inch.
Engraving on Wood
Reasons for engraving on wood vary from adding aesthetics to numbers or words used for identifiers or sign messages. Laser engraving is suitable for wood and gets a job done much faster than the old chiseling by hand method. The design is planned in AutoCAD software, then the engraving process is automated by a CNC machine. The laser beam shines through a lens, allowing it to cut into the wood based on the programmed design while tiny wood particles are removed from the surface.
One of the issues to keep in mind for woodworking is that it’s easier to control precision wood cutting by using hardwoods. Softer wood requires lower power and results can be mixed. Another issue is that wood can warp when heated or bend when exposed to moisture, so it must be stored properly prior to production.
Modern woodcutting is done most efficiently with CNC machines, which allow for accuracy and quick turnaround times. Contact us at Serra Laser to learn more about the fastest and most economical methods for precision wood cutting.