Paper Easter lilies

Today I’ve been trying to nail down paper cutting. I know people have been engraving their paper cuts to avoid overburn on corners, but that takes ages and I can’t wait that long.

I’ve been cutting at maximum speed and the lowest power that will cut through, but it’s been tough. I’ve seen charring, incomplete cuts on high speed long straights, and spots on corners. While I was practicing on some card patterns, I thought what if I used minimal power and adjusted speed way down to cut? That would reduce the speed differentials overall. It seemed to work, so I searched for something suitably frilly and found these Easter lilies at Scherenschnitte.

Some of those threads are filamentous, but none of them broke; the apparent break in the top left is in the design.

I had three wishes: no charring, no discoloration, and minimal weeding. It’s not perfect: there was plenty of weeding. Those long thin cuts get stuck in spots, but nothing a gentle tug won’t separate. There is no charring or smoke discoloration, but there is plenty of soot from the cuts which causes the darkened areas. And in fact, this is the reverse side I’m showing you, the front is noticeably sootier because that’s where I mostly handled it from. I understand from reading elsewhere this is common with laser cutting paper.

Settings were 200/5 on 22# printer paper. I didn’t take power down to 1 and slow it down even further because I was impatient.


What happens if you sandwich between two more sheets of paper? Does that put the char on the sandwich instead of the middle?

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I tried that with cardstock in my other lacy card thread. It doesn’t help with charring there, by which I mean the actual burning away of small bits of edges because the laser lingered too long, but it cuts down on smoke staining. However, in this case there is almost no overburning and very little smoke.

This particular design is too fragile for masking paper with paper, and it wouldn’t help with the soot, which is spread by handling. Stacking multiple sheets would just result in double the confetti.

I tried raising the paper off the bed using a jig because I read somewhere that it would help. Using the same settings, weeding was effortless and done by hand. But the confetti situation during cutting was worse because the pieces would part drop part way out and stay stuck for a while sometimes.


Really nice experimenting!
Sneaking up on the settings can be trying, but is a price that must be paid for the education and understanding of the material and how it responds.


I’ve combined a bunch of suggestions/ideas, and this is my current favorite process for cutting paper/cardstock.

  1. Low and slow: speed 200, at whatever power it takes to cut. For regular paper, that’s something around 2. For the cardstock I have, 15-20.

  2. Medium tack front masking. I ended up with this one and not the transfer paper @jules recommended. I wasn’t going to buy any at all, except I needed a kicker to get me over the prime | FREE One-Day limit on a different item. Works pretty well, but you need to add a little bit of power when using it. Very easy to apply and remove. Kind of expensive in the 30’ length, though; I calculate it to be about $.50/sheet of US Letter paper, so if I find myself using it regularly, I will get the 100’ rolls.

  3. Krylon Easy-Tack Spray Adhesive (or similar) and some plywood. I cut a piece of Home Depot plywood to 9.5x12", to leave a half inch border on letter paper. Then I sprayed some Krylon adhesive on it. This is what Jules recommended to me a long time ago to retackify a Silhouette cutting mat, and it works just as well for this. The plywood acts as a reusable cutting mat, and as a bonus, keeps bits from flying off as confetti and potentially interfering with cuts.

This is a finished test cut:

And the result:

With the right settings, weeding is more like “poking out”.


Wow! That’s great and the tips are handy too. Liked & bookmarked :slight_smile:

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plywood and tack spray is genius. You get the speed of doing scores, you (I assume) avoid flashback scorch marks, and you don’t have bits flying around.

Gotta go shopping again.


Great idea!

What do you mean by “poking out”? When you peel the outer edge of the paper/masking off the plywood, doesn’t it leave the cut-out parts still stuck to the plywood?

Wow, this is great!

Thanks for sharing your process with us.

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No, some are left and some come with. The masking and the tack spray fight it out. Also, with my power/speed setting, pieces can still be attached in one or two places by a few fibers. I did a few cut tests and the results went from perforation-like tear out to everything drops out. I went with a conservative setting to reduce burning.


I see the masking material you bought is made from vinyl, which I thought was a no-no? Doesn’t vinyl contain chlorine which will damage the laser? Please tell me I’m wrong, I’d love to cut vinyl! Thanks!

Some vinyl contains chlorine. Not all though. Laser safe vinyl masking doesn’t. You can check the MSDS sheet to tell for sure. But there’s way more vinyl that’s polyvinyl chloride and that’s bad so usually it’s safer to err on the “no vinyl” side. But if the MSDS doesn’t show PVC or chlorine components and it’s marketed laser safe you’re good.


Plus, as I learned in another similar thread: vinyl transfer tape is tape made to transfer vinyl from the cut out surface to the destination. And often not made of vinyl, PVC or otherwise. tape for the transfer of vinyl, rather than transfer tape made of vinyl


Oh awesome, thank you!