Laser Cut Printer Paper - Using Engrave

This will be an overview of working with plain ol’ printer paper and an attempt to address the most common questions.

First and foremost, paper burns. Make sure to carefully watch any project you attempt using paper, especially during highly detailed areas as all that heat is focused in a small area.


I currently engrave all my paper as the cut function burns holes in corners at these low settings.

Here are the settings I currently use, adjusting lines per inch depending on detail size. This gives minimal char, decent speed, and clean edges.

All the paper art I cut is 100% black so the gray level doesn’t matter, but it’s something to keep in mind. We are trying to destroy all the paper in order to cut it, we don’t want shades of grey changing our power.



Q & A

How do you hold the paper down?

I use magnets in the corners of the paper, this does the job when combined with engrave destroying small detail to minimize paper flying around. Magnets!

Where can I find cool paper art to laser?

I haven’t found any source for laser ready paper art, but I can replicate art I find online easily enough with photoshop etc., if you are good with your design tool of choice, try googling for hand cut paper art, there are tons of examples out there.

Does it char the paper?

It depends on your art, the closer the detail is to other detail the more char you can expect though i’ve never seen the paper actually burn with these settings. Sometimes the char adds a nice touch, sometimes I flip the paper over and the backside is usually nearly perfectly white.


this seems to imply that flipping your art and, essentially, engraving on the back will help minimize char on the front.

i have a handful of press sheets (28"x40") of neenah duplex black/white paper, so i’m thinking i could engrave with the black side up and get even less visible char. need to make sure i squirrel that stuff away at work.


Awesome! :grin:

Thanks for sharing the settings!

(I think it might belong in the Beyond the Manual category under the new guidelines we just received. All non-Proofgrade settings go in there now.)


Your right @Jules it does belong there.

I think Beyond the Manual may soon become my favorite category with projects like this!



Thank you so much for putting this all together, and showing us three of your paper-cuts!!! This is fantastic!!!


Indeed! Though i’ve had mixed results with liking the light char, and hey it’s just printer paper, cut another one if you hate it. :smiley:


yeah, I’ll have to test with different papers when mine finally does get here. I have access to some cool papers. I’m going to have to talk to my favorite printer about getting scrap and leftovers from him again.

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I’m intrigued, what are cool papers?

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there are loads of interesting papers out there. from the esoteric handmade to duplexed card stock (different colors on both sides) to non-wood papers (one of my favorites is Plike, super smooth “plastic-like” [hence “plike”] or another one made of stone), all kinds of different surfaces, textures and base components.

if you have a paper distribution company nearby (like Xpedex) that has a retail shop, you can often go in there and pick up sample books. if not, you can go online to the individual paper companies and order sample books.

then you can order paper. the problem you’ll run into is minimum orders for any of the more unusual stuff. that’s where working as a graphic designer for a long time helps me out. i have print vendors that i’ve known and worked with for 20+ years that i can ask for favors, like scraps or leftovers. another option is a site like, where you can often order smaller quantities (at a higher per sheet/sq in cost, but at least you don’t have to buy 250 or 500 press sheets, which are ~25"x38"). they buy up excess quantities and then sell them out in even smaller quantities (and sometimes smaller cut sizes). a 25x38 sheet is often cut into four 12.5x19 sheets, which will fit into most color copiers.


I love this. I’ve always had a softspot for paper art.


Two of my favorite sources that offer paper in smaller quantities are:

I have ordered from both with excellent results. French Paper in particular has a great deal of useful information on their site. Paper Works has a very wide variety of paper and is well organized.


french is one of my favorite paper companies. and you can order as small an order as 250 sheets. that may still be quite a bit for someone here. that’s why sites like glodan and paperworks are useful, since you can get smaller quantities, although they may not have the full range in stock.


So it seems like you’re not cutting all those shapes, but evaporating the paper via engrave. Correct?


Cool, thanks for sharing your process. This is on my list of cools things to try. I just need to dig up the right art for it.

If you’re designing in vector you don’t need to worry about color as the engrave power will only follow what’s specified in the settings, ie: vector artwork does not give you the dithering options nor map power to gray levels so it’s always the same power level.

Yes that is what he’s doing. I did some testing last night on 110lb card stock and engraving is nice because you dont have little bits of paper cutting loose and flying in the laser path, nor the overburn in corners like he already mentioned. It does take a while though even at max speed.


I’m a paper artist and have ordered a Pro specifically for the passthrough option for cutting paper.

really, really disappointed to see that vector cutting is leaving corner burns… that’s a common flaw with cheap lasers but something I’m not used to with even with even affordable entry models.

You’ve come up with a workaround here but engraving all that vs. vector cuts is going to burn out tubes way faster and takes 100x longer than a quick vector cut :frowning:

I’m sure this will improve (it better!) as time goes on, but sad to see that right now such a basic thing is still broken.


They’ll be fixing that (as much as possible).

yeah, I am happy to work with this as a MVP-level product here, I know it will continue to improve as iterations continue on the code front. that’s one of the most appealing features of the product. I just hope that does continue and they reach a broad enough market to be viable.

the idea of raster engraving some of my work though is just really gross, that would really just take an endless amount of time. Once I (finally) get my pro I’ll be doing a lot of testing and work to come up with values for fold engraving and whatnot as that’s my bread and butter.


Thanks so much for sharing!!! You Rock!!! :v:

Mostly correct, though somewhat depends on the design. This had the added benefit of keeping most everything attached to the page until it’s done as well. If you look at the time lapse you can actually see a large chunk fly off.

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