The devil’s in the details (mandala ~ help!)

Cut this file today for the first time…did a test cut on cardboard, which came out great. But when I cut my painted Baltic birch, it missed cutting ONE TINY petal. :weary: I tried to gently cut it myself with an exacto knife, but my knife is very old & dull, so it splintered the wood.

  1. Any ideas for the best way to salvage this (& get rid of the tiny piece of uncut wood remaining?
  2. How can I make sure this doesn’t happen again?

Settings used for the 1/8” BB (which I’ve had a lot of luck with so far): speed 205, full power



Since everything cut except this one small area with the settings you used, I would say the settings are ok but there was a flaw/knot/void in the wood at that point. You can try sandpaper to smooth the fragment left behind.


It looks like there was a void in your birch - which bites, but does happen. Prior to cutting you can look at the wood with a flashlight on the backside and if you see any spots that look dark mark them and avoid them when you place your design.

For saving the spot you’ve got, getting a replacement sharp blade, cutting out the excess, then filling in the broken area with putty and sanding it down smooth might get you what you need. If you don’t want to wait for a new blade you could glue down the front and when it’s dry sand the piece out…very carefully!


From 2017:


@deirdrebeth @dklgood Thank you both! Great tips & advise.

I also realized that the wood lifts ever-so-slightly off the crumb tray (maybe a little warped?) Could that have also been a cause? (I’ll make sure I pin it down tight next time I use the same wood.)


Learning something new every day! Thanks so much.

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Exactly as they mentioned above, looks like you hit a void. Sometimes when the board is lifted a little and not flat, you’re going to get a very burnt, diffused looking cut line (mine look very thick) since it’s closer to the laser head.

It does suck to hit an uncuttable spot, but it happens all the time. The flashlight trick is the best, I circle those areas and avoid placing intricate cuts on them.


I’ve used a good nail file to fix little oopses like that.


I only have a box cutter at home, so I usually break off the uncut bit with that, then I glue the bits that broke off back in, or I fill it it with glue and random splinters I created when trying to break it off to begin with.

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Omgosh - nail file for the WIN! Brilliant suggestion! I cut my emery board in half to fit in the tiny space, and it worked like a charm. THANK YOU!! This will no doubt come in handy for future mandalas (or any other time I need a microscopic sander). :slight_smile:


For that last little bit that didn’t cut…


As I frequently have the need and there is often the need for some post-processing I would align it as well as possible and if extra splinters are possible a good yellow Elmers or Gorilla wood glue will get it strong.

Then if there is a lot of cutting needed and an X-acto blade (even a sharp one) will not do the job I use a jewelers saw with what would be a heavy blade for jewelry as it is close to the thickness of a laser cut.

For sanding down in tight spaces I wrap appropriate shaped and sized wood scraps with sandpaper held on by more wood glue to shave both char and oopsies into place. A diamond nail file can get into narrow places but not so much when the file is too wide. for close work, needle files work great and come in both diamond and steel varieties, and can work almost anywhere

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Sometimes the best course is to not try.

The math behind the decision will depend on your hourly rate and how much you pay for your BB, but let’s say you get your bb for $2/sheet (about double what I pay so seems like a conservative estimate), it starts to look impractical if you spend 30 minutes fiddling with fixes to save $1.50 of materials.

Sometimes simply recutting is the best option.


I like emery boards from my wife’s stash. The advantage is I can cut them into narrower strips, put pointy ends on them or otherwise shape them the way I need to get into tight laser cuts. They’re cheap and easy to cut.


and @arh2 Great idea! There’s a business called Micro Mark that markets tiny woodworking tools to hobbyists, for $$$. Visit their site, get ideas, then go scour the cosmetics section of a local drug store and buy cheap items that will do the same thing.

Good stuff for square corners: get a square dowel, glue sandpaper on one corner edge and the two sides. Use this to clean up those hard-to-get places.

For sanding down in tight spaces

I should have read @rbtdanforth post first…


I’ll just leave this here:

Sometimes the cheapest solution is to just buy the thing.


Definitely. Time is worth a lot. Sometimes we suffer from the “I can make that” syndrome. Just because we can doesn’t make it cost effective to do so.