How Much Time Does it Take to Use a Laser Cutter?

November 26, 2023

So, you’re interested in upping your craftwork with a laser, but aren’t sure if it will save you time or just add a new step. The last thing you need is something taking more of your limited time. Using a laser is like any other tool and should help you make what you want, but also save you time and effort.

Details and engraves.

Every laser cutter is unique with it’s speed and power. Some are more focused on power and will cut deeper but maybe not move swiftly if doing a larger piece. Some lasers are more focused on speed and will fly through engraving but struggle with some cuts. More and more are trying to balance both of these important aspects. Some have succeeded.

Speed struggles generally happen with fine detail work or larger engraved pieces. For example, I created a cute reindeer ornament or jewelry holder.

This cute craft is about 10.5 inches tall, almost 8 inches wide and, as you can see, it’s mostly engraved. I have a fast diode laser. This took over 30 minutes for the laser to engrave

Whereas, a smaller pendant like this tree of life being just 2.3 inches took less than 4 minutes.

Your settings also can have a lot to do with your engraving speed as well.

Shouldn’t you just set it fast and powerful?

Your settings will vary by what wood, acrylic or other material you’re engraving on. It also will depend on how deep or dark you want the engraving.

From the images above you can see the difference in the darkness of these two. Now, some of the difference is due to them being different types of wood, but the reindeer also was put out at a higher speed and a different fill setting as well.

Settings are something that need their own article or two or ten as they can be very different depending on what laser you have and what program you use to run it.

I have a Creality Falcon 2 Diode laser and I use Lightburn to run it. So, that is what my experience will be with settings. You may have a weaker or more powerful laser. You might have a C02 or Fiber laser. You may use other software to run your laser.

So, please refer to people who have various types of laser experience for more specific settings for your needs.

I rarely run at 100% power and I don’t think I’ve ever run at full speed other than maybe on a material test. 100% in my opinion should be just for cutting and only when necessary. I have no fear of using 100% power but also see few needs since I mainly use wood between 1/16 and 3/8 inch which my laser is designed to handle.

For the reindeer on 1/8 inch Yellowheart wood, I ran at 80% power and 11,500 millimeters (452 inches) per minute. My laser has a max speed of 25,000 mm (984 inches) per minute and a regular cross hatch fill. That means it’s possible I could have upped both the power and speed and likely received the same result, but upping the power may have also resulted in more flashback scorching on the back of the piece.

For the tree on 1/16 inch cherry it was done at an 10,000mm (393 inches) per minute and 75% power and on what’s called offset fill. Offset filling generally is faster as it traces the outline and fills in that pattern instead of straight lines fully across. It sometimes isn’t as consistently dark, though.

Wait! With those speeds you only need seconds.

So, you look at 10,000 mm(393 inches) per minute and still wonder why I stated the tree pendant to almost 4 minutes. Though the pendant is a 2×2 inches round. Well start with it’s 4 square inches. It covers each piece in a .8mm beam in a horizontal and then comes back and duplicates for a vertical pass. So, yes it is moving that fast, but it has to adjust for the shape, parts that aren’t filled, different shading for lighter or darker parts. Settings can also adjust if it does all of one type of shape or fill then a different area. If it had been a simple circle 2 inches round I was cutting out there would be no doubt it would complete in less than 30 seconds.

So, will it save you time?

If you are using a wood burner or engraving with a rotary tool then, yes a laser will likely save you time. If you are just cutting wood with a saw then likely no. If you are cutting very detailed pieces with a scroll saw, then yes.

It also takes less skill, less of a steady hand and only enough strength to lift and position the wood.

I hope this was helpful.

Stay laser focused,


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