Design a Bookmark
Time 2.9 hrs

Difficulty Intermediate
Prerequisites Laser Cutting 102
Departments Human Technologies
Authors Sandra Kuipers
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


Design a Bookmark


This work is shared under the following license: Creative Commons BY-SA


What is needed to run this unit?
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Cross-Curricular Links
Do not try and force this. What areas of other subjects might this reflect and/discuss language. For IB, links with ToK.
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Teacher Reflection
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5 mins
A Book's Best Friend
The Pitch
  • It's hard to read a book if you're losing your place all the time!
  • Bookmarks are a book's best friend, and they come in a variety of shapes and designs.
  • Laser cut bookmarks are cool because you can create really intricate designs, much more detailed than a pair of scissors can cut.
  • In this unit, you'll create one or more bookmark designs and laser cut them using cardstock.
60 mins
Creating Your Design
Design Time
  • We'll use the free online vector graphics program called Vectr
  • Since you've made it this far in the map, you should be pretty familiar with vector graphics by now.
  • Login to Vectr using your School Google account, which will save your work under this account.
  • Next, click the New Artwork button:

  • Then, select the Print sizes tab, scrolling down to find the A4 template. This is a good size for your bookmarks. Now click Create.
  • In Vectr, use the Rectangle tool to create a shape that is at least 5cm wide and 12cm tall.
  • This is a good default shape and size for a bookmark.

  • You'll be able to fit several bookmarks in one A4 sheet. You can decide if you want to create several different designs, or create multiple copies of the same bookmark.
30 mins
Finding Patterns
Design Time
  • You can design a bookmark with text, shapes, and neat patterns.
  • Everything will need to be created as a vector design, because this is the type of graphics file the laser cutter uses.
  • A great place to find neat vector patterns is Freepik:
  • You can also checkout Vecteezy and FreeVector.
  • Be sure to use the filters for sites like these to only search Free files that are Vectors.

  • Take some time and search for some different designs that you like.
  • Keep in mind that laser cutters don't do colour or multiple overlapping lines.
  • Look for patterns with clear shapes that the laser cutter can either cut out or etch.
10 mins
Stencil Text
Design Time
  • You can add text to your bookmark, such as your name or a quote.
  • However, remember that the laser cutter will be cutting out these letters.
  • Letters with holes in them, like o, p, b, e, etc., will cut out the holes too.
  • This is why stencil fonts exist. The shape of the letter has small attachment points so that the holes don't fall out.

  • Fonts like these have been used by spray painters for decades, because they can create stencils for letters without the holes falling out.
  • If you'd like to add text to your bookmark, check out Google Fonts for some free stencil fonts and also take a look at the available options in Vectr.
10 mins
Laser Safety With Paper
A Brief Review
  • Paper is more flammable than wood, so it's essential to review some of the laser safety guidelines for materials.
  • NEVER use a random material that the teacher has not approved.
  • Using the laser cutter on materials that are unsafe can cause toxic fumes. Always check that your material is safe.
  • For this unit we will be using uncoated cardstock provided by the teacher.
  • ALWAYS check your laser cutter settings with the teacher when switching materials from wood to paper. Too much heat can start a fire.
  • ALWAYS ask your teacher to adjust the laser height before cutting, since paper is thinner than wood.
10 mins
Creating The Template
Setting Up
  • Before you can laser cut your design, you'll need to export it out of Vectr as an SVG file and email it to

To continue, you'll need to switch from using your own laptop to using the dedicated Laser Cutter laptop. Check to see if it is available. Note: when multiple students are waiting to use the laser cutter, we go by the order that they emailed their files to

  • On the laser cutter laptop, open LightBurn and open the LaserCutter-BookmarkTemplate file.
  • You can delete the example shapes: these are here to show the different cutting options.
  • Go to File > Import to import your SVG file, then resize it and place it within the frame.
  • Check your measurements to see that your bookmarks are still roughly 5cm by 12cm.
  • Select the different elements of your design and assign them to what type of cut to use:
    • Click the Blue 01 for parts that will be Cut.
    • Click the Red 02 for parts that will be Etched (filled in).
    • Click the Black 00 for parts that will be drawn as a Line.

15 mins
Setting Up
  • Once your template is setup in LightBurn, it's time to prepare the laser cutter.
  • Ask your teacher for assistance setting up and turning on the laser cutter.
    • Currently, the only teachers trained to operate the laser cutter are Sandra Kuipers and Ross Parker. The laser cutter is a powerful piece of equipment: we require someone trained to always be present when starting up the laser cutter.
    • Your teacher will turn the laser cutter on, as well as the fan in the case and the air assist. Be sure that all three of these are turned on before cutting.
    • Ask your teacher to set the focal height for the laser so that it's set for 3mm material.

Note: Try to follow the below instructions yourself. Your teacher will be nearby observing, but you will be responsible for learning these steps and following them.

These instructions are the most important and most difficult step of operating the laser cutter: pay attention, read them carefully, and be sure to ask for help if you get stuck.

Step 1: Connect the Laser Cutter

  • Connect the laser cutter laptop, with LightBurn open, to the laser cutter using the blue USB cable.
  • In the Laser window, check that Devices is connected via cu.usbserial-1410.
  • In the Laser window, also check that Start From is set to User Origin, bottom left corner.
  • In the Laser window, press the Home button to ensure the laser is at position 0,0

Step 2: Setting the Origin

  • In the Move window, set the X coordinates to 90.00 and Y to 50.00.
  • In the Move window, click Go to move the laser to this position.
  • In the Move window, click both the Set Origin and Set Finish Point buttons.
  • Do not touch or manually move the laser after the origin is set.

Step 3: Aligning your Material

  • Check that you have acquired and measured your sheet of 3mm basswood from the template steps. Be sure to use pre-cut sheets if there are any available.
  • With the teacher present, carefully open the case of the laser cutter.
  • Without touching the laser itself, place your sheet down on the honeycomb cutting grille, roughly centred above the silver mat below the grille.

  • Try to carefully line up the bottom left corner of your sheet with the centre of the laser.
  • As much as possible, ensure the sheet is lined up straight and parallel with the laser.

Step 4: Framing your Cut

  • With your sheet in position, keep the case of the laser cutter open so you can make adjustments as needed.
  • In the Cuts/Layers window, turn the Output for the Frame layer on, as seen below:

  • In the Laser window, click the Frame button. This will cause the laser to trace the outline of your sheet without actually turning the laser beam on.

  • Now, watch carefully as the laser cutter moves around the frame of your sheet of wood. Check the see that the middle of the laser cutter head lines up with the outside edge of your sheet.
  • DO NOT touch the sheet while the laser cutter is framing. Wait for it to finish moving, then make small adjustments to position your sheet so that it is lined up in your frame.
  • Use the Frame button multiple times, as needed, to ensure your sheet is aligned.
  • Then, in the Cuts/Layers window, turn the Output for the Frame layer off, as seen below:  

With your origin point set, and sheet in place and framed, you're almost ready to move onto cutting.

Almost There!

Click the Preview Button:

  • Be sure to preview your cut to check the time and order of the cuts.
  • In the preview window, use the slider bar to watch a preview of the cuts: the etching needs to occur before cutting, as the material may shift once it's cut out.
30 mins
Laser Cutting!
The Fun Part

BEFORE starting your cut, please go through the following checklist with your teacher present:

  • Check the machine:
    • Laser cutter and air assist and case are all On
    • Laser cutter case is Closed
    • Laser cutter window in LightBurn is showing Ready
  • Check yourself:
    • Protective eyeglasses are On
    • Do you have to go to the washroom or anywhere else? Go now
  • Check your software:
    • Frame layer is turned Off
    • Preview your project and note the Total Estimated Time
    • Is there enough class time left to complete the cut?
  • Check your material:
    • Press the circular Frame button: (called the "Elastic Frame")
    • The Elastic Frame tool will trace the outline of exactly where the machine will cut.
    • Does the middle of the laser line up with where you plan to cut?

With all of these checks complete, and your teacher present, you are ready to press Start

You must remain present and alert during the whole cutting process. You can watch the laser cutter, but do not stare at the beam, even with glasses on.

Do not open the case while the laser cutter is active. Press Pause or Stop in LightBurn if there is an issue with the cut. If there is a fire or excessive smoke, press the Emergency Stop button.

Watch the progress bar and wait for your cutting to complete.

BEFORE opening the case, when the laser cutter is done let your teacher know and wait patiently. The teacher must be present before you open the case. Then, make sure you:

  • Turn the laser cutter and air assist and case all Off
  • Open the case and carefully retrieve your materials.
  • Use a tissue to wipe any charcoal off the edges of your element, so it doesn't smudge.
  • Remove any excess material or debris. Do not leave material in the laser cutter.
  • Congratulations! You've just completed your first laser cut. It gets easier the more you practice :)
5 mins
Finishing Up

  • Find a favourite book and take a photo of your laser-cut bookmarks in action, then submit it as evidence of your learning for this unit.
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