Fabrication Week 3: Laser cutting

I’m not sure why when we were tasked to build something using the laser cutter, I immediately wanted to build a carousel, but that is what I wanted to do.

The materials:

-Wood strips, 1/4” x 6” x 12'“

-Wood strips, 1/8” x 6” x 12'“

-Round wooden dowel, 5/18”

-Washer and knut



-Adobe Illustrator

-Laser cutter (I used both the 50 and 60 Watt, due to availability)

-Wood glue

-Hot glue



The Process

The first thing I did was outline all the shapes I was going to cut using the laser cutter. I put them all in separate illustrator files, but for clarity I put them in the same file below (NOTE: the shape in the top L corner was just the “before” shapes I merged into the gear/base— I did NOT cut this shape with the laser.) I used a free vector for the horse that I found online (source here) and the rest of the shapes I created myself.

all shapes.jpg

I printed them out in this order:

  1. Horses (2)

  2. Gears/base + horse supports, including dowel attachment.

  3. Roof


I affixed the horse pieces with the small squares and wood glue— a big thank you to John in the shop for his advice on how to stabilize the horses. I had originally started out with just one joiner/support piece, the one that attached the horse to the central dowel, and was having a miserable time trying to get them to stay attached, when John came by and suggested that I add additional support pieces, because “a bird can’t fly on one wing.” I also glued the two roof pieces together with wood glue, and remembered to use a sacrificial piece of wood so that the clamp wouldn’t mar the surface.

The hole in the base gear was too big for the dowel, so I hot glued a knut and washer to stabilize it. I then slid the horse on and attached the roof with wood glue. It’s a little more rickety than I would have liked— mainly because the dowel, which I cut by hand, was uneven, and so the roof didn’t have a smooth surface to balance on. Another lesson was that the laser cutter—while it made beautiful, precise cuts—sometimes made the holes (in the roof and joiner pieces) slightly too big, which added an element of wobbliness I wasn’t expecting. Also, I didn’t properly align the gears, so as of right now it’s a stationary carousel.

Overall, however, I’m happy with the way it turned out, and am looking forward to trying to make it move, potentially with my servo motor in p-comp.