Need Cork Cutting Help!

I have 0.25" cork sheets that I’m trying to cut.
Does anyone have settings or anything that could point me in the right direction?

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My experience with 0.2" thick cork. (The cheap stuff from Hobby Lobby.)

Use 200/50, 4 or 5 passes
Cork is really hard to cut.

  • Slower than 150 causes fire.
  • Faster than 250 doesn’t cut deep.
  • Too much initial power causes fire, charring, and smoke stains. Keep it at power 50 or less.
  • Even 200/50 4-passes barely cuts all the way. (Still need to cut/pull apart.)
  • Cutting over an etched area causes fire and smoke staining. Cut first, then etch! (Or don’t cut near etched areas.)

The problem: Cork is a great insulator. First pass burns the cork and caramelizes the top of what is left. 2nd pass takes more power to get past hard caramelized area. 3rd pass needs even more power.

Cork also really stinks. You will smell up your entire building, even if you have a good vent to the outside. (My office mates have forbidden me from cutting cork on the GF because of the smell. Engraving is fine, but not cutting.)

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t cut cork.

For engraving/etching, I had great luck with 1000/10/225, dithered.
Works really well: just burns where the laser hits, no smoke stain. No visible rastering. (No masking tape needed.)

Your mileage will vary based on the type of cork, density, kind of glue they used, etc. As with all materials, get one piece that you can use for testing. These settings that worked for me may not be ideal for you.

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I’ve had excellent results scoring/vector-engraving cork with s200/p5, which produces a nice black line.

Cutting the 1/4" thick stuff has been too slow to bother with.

If you have a simple shape, it’s quick and easy to cut with a razor blade around a laser-scored outline. Cork also cuts wonderfully with a router, so you could make a draftboard template and go around with a pattern routing bit—you can also use a light scored outline on the cork if alignment is critical. I’ve done both of these methods and it works great.

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I outlined some cork cutting here:

I was dealing with .130” cork and a charred edge wasn’t a problem. I got through it in one pass, but it’s not apples to apples. I also found that engraves took less power than others have said.

You might be able to jig, cut, flip, recut to get through your piece, though that might be too flamey. Good luck and be careful.

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