Woodwork is probably as old as humanity. So, why introduce laser wood cutting, laser wood engraving or laser wood etching? Doesn’t that take the soul from working with wood?
Humans have always created better tools
Saws have been found in ancient Egypt 5000 years ago. Every few centuries someone or several created a better one- a more precise tool for a specific purpose. In the 1700s the first powered saws were created, believe it or not. A British man patented a windmill saw mill.
Well, that’s still just harnessing nature, I hear you proclaim.
Let’s go forward a couple centuries shall we. Electricity was classified fully and ready for mass use by the end of the 1800s. A mere 23 years into the 1900s we had our first electric circular saw.
After this, a new or improved hand saw was created every year or two. Was the soul of woodworking lost along the way? I truly don’t believe so. Like most improvements, it simply made the work more accessible.
Can a laser do it all?
Absolutely not. Common home lasers generally can only cut through wood that is between 1/8 inch and 1.5 inches depending on the type and power of the laser used. You also are generally limited on length and width of pieces between 15 and 24 inches. It also is more difficult to cut angles like a miter saw and a much longer process to make valleys in a piece of wood without cutting through, unlike a router.
A laser also burns the edges when it cuts through. I personally like the bronze color laser edges have but many spend time and extra effort sanding those burns away.
Where does a laser shine for woodwork?
A laser works wonderfully to cut wood as fast or faster than a scroll saw. It also replaces and is faster than a wood burner for putting engravings, images, text and much more. Some of the smaller cuts a laser can make would be impossible for most, if not all, scroll saws.
These earrings are only about the size of 50 cent pieces. Can the most advanced scroll saw make this detailed web?
How long would making this lid take to first cut perfectly and the engrave without a laser? An hour? More?
It took less than 9 minutes on the laser to engrave and cut out. I know because I made both this unicorn and the web earrings. I made these on my 22 watt diode laser.
So, does every woodworker need a laser?
In the same way that not every woodworker needs a router. It will limit you on what all you can do, but there will be so much you still can. A laser is simply another tool to allow you to do more. Laser make it way easier and faster to customize items, engrave amazing designs and pictures, do small or intricate cuts that may take you way longer on a traditional saw.
I never got the bug for working with wood until I saw what a laser could do. What I’d done with wood years earlier felt just like work. A laser made me feel reinvigorated and renewed to make wood my main focus.
So, I’d never be without a laser, but that in no way means you have to have one to be a successful woodworker.
Lasers for the win?
You definitely can win with using the right laser. You definitely can win without using a laser. It all depends on your goals and what you want to make.
Laser will be a big part of my win, but they definitely aren’t the only tool I’m using. Wood also isn’t the only medium I work with- just the main one.
Lasers have some far in the past decade, especially the past 3-5 years. They are much more affordable and easier to master. So, if you want to add a laser to your workshop you’re in good company.
Stay laser focused,