Making Your First Box With The Yora 40W CO2 Laser Engraver

I may have mentioned that my new favourite thing in the world is my Yora 40W CO2 Laser Engraver.

One of the things I really wanted to be able to do with it, was to be able to make boxes, you know the kind I mean: 

They have “finger joints”, where the slot from one side fits into the hole on the opposite side. They look beautiful and come in so many options. All I needed to do was figure it out and then I could make anything I wanted to with my own designs.

There are plenty of patterns available on the internet and a quick search on Etsy will provide you with a ton of choices, this was going to be too easy…

So, I paid for the design, set it all up, cut it out, and...

The slots didn’t fit together right. Shame really as it’s a gorgeous design, there had to be a bit more to this.

Internet searches done, I found several sites that will allow you to generate your own box, produce the svg file and so on.

www.boxes.py

www.makercase.com

www.layeredpaperart.com

The first thing I found was that I needed to do a burn test to see how much shrinkage there is after a burn.

Picture the laser drawing a line on the material, it will draw on the path set in the pattern, depending on the size of the beam, it will be half to one side, half to the other of the pattern line.

 

To check this on your material, firstly, use the Yora 6 Inch Stainless Steel Digital Caliper | mm/in/f Conversion to check the thickness of your material.

I bought this birch plywood as 3 mm. As you can clearly see, it’s not: 

You now need to draw and cut a 100 mm rectangle and check the size.

What should have cut as 100 mm, now reads as 99.81 mm, so it has lost 100 – 99.81 = 0.19 mm, but this is from both ends, so the actual loss or “Kerf” is 0.19 / 2 = 0.095 mm

This figure can now be fed into the burn test.

 

When you click Generate:

 

A svg file is generated, right click, and save the file.

Open this file in Inkscape:

Using “Fill and Stroke”,

Convert the cut lines into Red and the text to Blue.

Save the file.

Open it in K40 Whisperer.

Do the Vector Engrave first, then the cut lines.

Once separated, you can try fit the slots together, as you can see, the first size was not so perfect.

If all 4 of these don’t fit perfectly, re-do a second set starting from the burn test, changing the burn figure in the default settings.

Go through the same process and check which slots fit correctly.

Having found the correct size, this can now be used in the default settings to generate a Notes Box, or whatever you choose to make.

Again, press Generate to produce the svg file.

Save the file and re-open in Inkscape and convert the lines to cut lines with Fill and Stroke to Red.

Open it in K40 Whisperer.

Vector Cut and await the result.

No glue, just a little gentle persuasion and it's perfect. All of the joints fit just as they should,  the slots are exactly correct and now I’m ready to try lots of different boxes!

It should be noted at this point, this process should be repeated for each different material and thickness used.

I had complete faith in my YoraHome machine and knew it was just something I needed to figure out.

Unfortunately, enthusiasm and impatience got the better of me to begin with when it came to trying out boxes, as the pile of fire-wood at the side of our log burner shows.

But from now on, you won’t be able to move in this house for jewellery boxes, tea-light holders, card boxes, hinged boxes, polygon boxes, wooden vases. If you have a birthday or special occasion coming up, you can be sure of what you’ll be getting from me this year.

Now the basics are in place, I’ll be adding engraving and cut-outs to each of the boxes, this CNC hobby just gets better and better.

With all of the machines available from YoraHome, you will not be short of opportunities to design and create to your hearts content. I only wish the cutting bed on the 40W CO2 was a bit bigger, so I might have to look at a Yora 60W CO2 Laser Engraver next.

And no, Shaun, my long-suffering other half is not having to move out or get rid of all of his stuff, I’m getting a big garden building for the toys! Hurray!