Laser Cut Boxes
Time 2.8 hrs

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


Laser Cut Boxes


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
What was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used?
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Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.
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5 mins
Design a Box
The Pitch
  • So, you've designed a couple simple things with the laser cutter.
  • Want to make something more complicated?
  • Laser cut boxes are created by fitting together cut-out pieces, much like a puzzle.
  • These boxes use finger joints, which stay together with no glue required! 
  • They can even have complicated hinges and bends in them, all made out of wood.
  • This unit will teach you how to design your own laser cut box.

10 mins
Creating a Design
  • Designing laser cut boxes by hand would take hours and hours of work :(
  • Luckily, there's a way to automatically generate them :)
  • is a site with tools you can use to create hundreds of different kinds of boxes.
  • Visit the site and check out the Boxes and Boxes with Flex sections.
  • Have a look through the list of available box templates.

  • Choose a box template that you'd like to make.
  • Keep in mind the complexity and available materials.
    • If you choose a complex template, ask your teacher if it will be possible to make.
  • The examples in this unit will use the NotesHolder box template, however you can choose other box designs, and the steps will be very similar.

  • Once you've chosen what type of box you'd like to make, you'll need to customize the size.
  • Settings for each type of box will look a little different, however each of them should have options to let you choose the size.
  • Change the x (width), y (depth), and h (height) options to set the size of your box.
    • Note: these are measured in millimetres. Use a ruler to visualize the size of your box.
  • Your box template needs to fit on an available A4 sheet of wood, so generally shouldn't be larger than 20cm in any one dimension.

  • Most of the other settings should be left with their default values.
10 mins
What is Kerf?
Why it matters!
  • Before your box template is ready to download, there's a couple more important settings to check.
  • The most important setting is called the Burn Correction, also known as Kerf.
  • Kerf is the width of a cut or width of a material that is removed by a cutting process.
  • Our laser is pretty thin! However, each time it cuts, a very thin line of the wood will be incinerated.

  • When we fit wood together with finger joints, the cut has to be perfectly measured in order for the pieces to fit together and stay together without any glue.
  • Without kerf, this thin amount of wood removed would mean the finger joints would be too loose and fall apart.
  • The Kerf or Burn Correction value for our laser is 0.07mm (less than 1/10th of a millimetre!)
  • Before continuing you need to set the burn value to 0.07
  • Also double-check to ensure the thickness is set to 3.0

  • You can preview what your template will look like by pressing the Generate button.

  • When you're happy with the design, click Download to save the svg file to your computer.
  • Rename your svg file to add your name, then email it to
60 mins
Hands On
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
  • In LightBurn, open the LaserCutter-BlankTemplate, then save a copy in the Student Templates folder with your name in the filename.
  • Go into Gmail to download your SVG file from the inbox.
  • Then, go to File > Import to add your SVG file to your template.

  • When you first add your SVG file, you'll need to move it into place inside the frame layer.
  • DO NOT RESIZE your box template, as this will change the kerf settings. All size changes need to be made in before your export your template.
  • There is also a size reference box with some text. Select and delete these extra parts.
  • Next, select all of your template parts and choose the 01 blue option from the layers palette at the bottom of the screen.

  • Your template should look something like this:

  • As we can see, this arrangement leaves a lot of blank space, which will use up more wood than is necessary.
  • Take moment to rearrange the pieces of your template so they fit nicely to use up as much available space as possible.
  • You can rotate your pieces to make them fit, but remember not to resize them.

  • Save your template before continuing.
30 mins
Customise your Box
  • By default, your box template is pretty blank. There's no neat designs or words on it.
  • You can decorate your box by adding additional designs to etch or cut into the wood.
  • For this example, I've added a Gibbon logo to my sticky notes holder.

  • You can be as creative as you'd like when decorating your box.
  • There are built-in text tools in LightBurn to add text. Otherwise, all other designs you add will need to be imported as SVG files.
  • Keep in mind the complexity of your design, and consider whether it will work as a cut-out or etched design.
  • Use layers 00, 01, and 02 to determine which part of your design will be etched, outlined, or cut:

5 mins
Before Continuing
BEFORE continuing, please complete this checkpoint:
  • Save your template and take a screenshot of it in LightBurn.
  • Using the Laser Cutter laptop, email the screenshot to yourself.
  • Using your own laptop, go into Gibbon and submit the screenshot of your template.
30 mins
Laser Cutting
The Fun Part!
  • By now you should be pretty familiar with the laser cutting process.
  • Your next steps are to:
    • Place your material in the laser cutter.
    • Turn the laser cutter on (with a teacher present)
    • Set the origin and finish points.
    • Frame your material to align it with the laser.
    • Preview it to see how much time it will take to cut.
  • You can find printed guides about how to do each of these steps next to the laser cutter.

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:

  • Press the Home button to move the laser out of the way.
  • 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.
15 mins
Hands On
  • You now have the parts cut out: assembling your box will be a little bit like a puzzle.
  • If all went well with your kerf settings, the finger joints of your box will fit together quite snugly and stay together.

  • Start with the base of your box, then carefully attach two opposite sides.
  • You'll need to use firm but gentle pressure to slide the finger joints together.

  • Continue constructing your box, making sure the finger joints are fully connected before adding the next side.
  • If your box has complex hinges or flexible parts, ask your teacher if you need assistance assembling your box.

5 mins
Finishing Up
  • Take a picture of your laser-cut box and submit it as evidence of your learning in this unit.
  • Enjoy! You get to keep this one :)



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