Laser made die cutter idea

Die cutting has come up several times on this forum. I saw this Instructable:

…and was thinking of doing something similar with a laser. I’m thinking I could score lines in a piece of wood and put strips of metal in similar to the instructable but without the floral foam. It might be too thin or something if I just score it once, but two score lines close together could help. Could be too shallow to insert enough metal in, too. It could end up looking better than what they did if the wood guided the metal into better paths than their’s. Would have to experiment.

Does this sound at all feasible to anybody else? Cheap custom die cutters could be quite useful.


Sounds like it should work.
I made some punch/Dies for cutting silver. The process was to use a jewelers saw to cut the shape in sheet metal, the trick was to cut it at such an angle that when you lifted the piece strait out it would just fit out the hole, and you left a long tab on it so your cutout was still attached so it would stay lined up.
My thought with a laser would be to cut out 2 pieces and and just kerf adjust so they just fit. The trick will be getting them lined up just right in a press
I’ll see if I can find a pic of the ones I made.


So, if you wanted a circle die cut two. The outer one would be waste and would leave a gap big enough to allow the metal to fit? That seems even more plausible than a score!

Pictures would be great.


I have been thinking about exactly this same idea!
My wife has a little die cutting press that a neighbor gave her, and it came with a bunch of pre-made dies.
Looking at them I don’t think scoring would be enough, but if you cut through 1/8" plywood and then layer it on another sheet it might work.
Die rule (the cutting strips) is kind of hard to come by in small quantities unfortunately.
I have been looking for a local place that has cut off bits they might be willing to part with but no luck yet.

The foam ends up being important. Without it the paper just gets jammed up into the die and is hard to get out without trashing it.


@cynd11 has a few dies and a die cutter. We discussed this the other week as we looked at them. It’s totally possible.


Glad to hear! I’ll certainly watch for what people come up with here until I’ve got a Glowforge to try some things on my own.

Feeling pretty good about it working now. Cut a shape twice, one bigger than the other. Use the smaller shape to wrap the metal around and form it. Slip it into the hole left by cutting out the shape, minus the slightly bigger shape to allow room for the metal. Then, it’ll be a matter of working out the foam. I need to look more into that, but there’s laser safe stuff and I’m just happy to have a better idea of what might work than I did before saying anything.

Metal flashing might work or perforated metal hanger straps. Or soup cans, like the Instructable.

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Another source is the metal strapping that they use to bind stuff on pallets. I have seen it piled behind behind the big box stores. Or even thin hacksaw blades, which would probably hold up for quite a while

This is the real deal.


Is this a case where kerf getting wider with depth and multiple passes might be an asset?


You mean, like, 3 passes cutting a half-inch piece or something? Or scoring multiple passes to make the score wider? Either way is probably worth at least the experimentation.

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@Jules mentioned that the cut is the shape of an X. if you focus the center of that X lets say on the top of the material does anybody know the angle? From what I have seen it seems very minimal.

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If you focus on the surface of the material, you would get a cut shaped like a cone, but with the wider part of the cone at the base of the material and the point at the top.

You also run the chance of not cutting all the way through if you are running too fast.

It can be a fairly significant difference. I didn’t write them down though - I’m sorry. I just remembered noticing how off the kerf adjustments were between the top and the bottom of the piece. (Like double the kerf.)

It’s still not a lot with a kerf of 0.2 mm, but it does affect the fit on inlay.


I cut some acrylic with the beam focused on the top surface, and found the cone sides to be 2-4 degrees from vertical. This was on a 60W Epilog.


Maybe a little of both. Cutting a couple of scores right next to each other would give you the width for the whole power of the beam to get down to a deeper level, and multiple passes would likely mean more width because more char. My guess is that the metal is probably thicker than the 8-mil nominal kerf, but as you say it would probably take some experiments.


OK this is what I was talking about before,

in the pic you can see the angle of the cut. With the laser you would nee to cut twice and compensate for kerf each time, and if possible focus the beam on the top for one and the bottom for the other. Again the trick to using it will be to get the top and bottom lined up perfect with the material in between.
I will be testing this for sure!


Neat! Reminds me of a hole punch.


Yes! exactly! I think the acrylic could maintain enough of an edge to work the same way, not forever but for a while.

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I have a great little corner-rounding cutting press-die. The dies are swappable, although I only have the one right now. I wonder if I could leverage it (!) to work with a glowforge-made die. Maybe an embossing die? Maybe use the basic idea to make a differently shaped press? Still playing with the idea.


Yes! I have been thinking of embossing dies as well


I think it would depend a lot on what you were cutting. For paper you need sharp edges. (IIRC the 3-hole punch I inherited has a hollow ground into the punches, fwiw)

I’ve been giving some thought to embossing dies as well. I’m curious to experiment with engraved acrylic, especially when the emboss doesn’t have to have a lot of depth.

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