Welcome to the World of Laser Cutting!

At Delmarva Makerspace, we’re passionate about empowering makers to explore new technologies and unleash their creativity. Laser cutting is one of the most versatile and exciting tools in our makerspace, perfect for creating everything from intricate artwork to functional parts. If you’re new to laser cutting, this guide will help you get started with confidence and safety.

What is Laser Cutting?

Laser cutting is a precise method of cutting or engraving materials using a focused laser beam. It can cut through materials like wood, acrylic, paper, fabric, and even certain metals. The precision and versatility of laser cutting make it an invaluable tool for makers, designers, and artists.

Essential Safety Guidelines

Before diving into your first laser cutting project, it’s crucial to understand and follow these safety guidelines:

  1. Wear Proper Eye Protection: Always wear safety glasses designed for laser use to protect your eyes from the intense light of the laser.
  2. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation in the workspace to avoid inhaling fumes from the materials being cut.
  3. Material Safety: Only use materials that are safe for laser cutting. Avoid materials like PVC, which can release toxic fumes when cut.
  4. Fire Safety: Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and never leave the laser cutter unattended while it’s operating.
  5. Regular Maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain the laser cutter to ensure it operates safely and efficiently.

Step-by-Step Guide to Your First Laser Cutting Project

Here’s a simple project to get you started: a personalized keychain.

Materials Needed:

  • A piece of wood or acrylic (small enough to fit in the laser cutter)
  • Design software (like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape)
  • Laser cutter


  1. Create Your Design:
    • Use design software to create your keychain design. Start with a simple shape and add text or patterns. Ensure the design is appropriately sized for your material.
    • Save your design in a format compatible with your laser cutter, such as SVG or DXF.
  2. Prepare the Laser Cutter:
    • Turn on the laser cutter and connect it to your computer.
    • Place your material on the laser cutter bed. Use the clamps or magnets to secure it in place.
    • Focus the laser according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure a precise cut.
  3. Set Your Cutting Parameters:
    • Adjust the laser settings for your material. This includes setting the power, speed, and number of passes. Refer to the material’s laser cutting guidelines for optimal settings.
  4. Run a Test Cut:
    • Perform a test cut on a scrap piece of material to ensure the settings are correct and the design cuts cleanly.
  5. Cut Your Design:
    • Once satisfied with the test cut, load your final material and start the cutting process. Monitor the cutter closely during the operation.
  6. Finish Your Keychain:
    • After the laser has finished cutting, carefully remove the keychain from the bed.
    • Sand any rough edges and attach a key ring to complete your personalized keychain.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  1. Incorrect Focus: Ensure the laser is properly focused to get clean cuts. An out-of-focus laser can cause burns or incomplete cuts.
  2. Wrong Settings: Use the correct power and speed settings for your material. Too much power can cause burns, while too little can result in incomplete cuts.
  3. Poor Ventilation: Always use the laser cutter in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

Recommended Materials for Beginners

  • Wood: Easy to cut and engrave. Ideal for a wide range of projects.
  • Acrylic: Produces clean cuts and is available in various colors.
  • Paper/Cardstock: Perfect for intricate designs and prototypes.
  • Fabric: Great for custom apparel and accessories.

Useful Resources and Tutorials

  • Laser University: A comprehensive resource offering tutorials, guides, and tips for laser cutting and engraving. Perfect for both beginners and advanced users. Visit: Laser University
  • Instructables: A community-driven site with countless projects and step-by-step tutorials for laser cutting and other maker activities. Great for finding inspiration and detailed instructions. Explore: Instructables – Laser Cutting
  • Trotec Laser: Trotec’s website offers a variety of laser cutting and engraving tutorials, material guides, and project ideas to help you get the most out of your laser cutter. Check it out: Trotec Laser Tutorials


Laser cutting is an incredible tool that can bring your creative ideas to life with precision and ease. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to mastering laser cutting and creating amazing projects. At Delmarva Makerspace, we’re here to support your journey. Happy making!