Sunday, January 24, 2021

I Received My Dream Tool: A Laser

This was long overdue, but as I head towards retirement (three more years) I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and to buy a dream tool that I had been pondering for a long time: a laser cutter and engraver. Now you might be wondering why this is on this particular blog and the answer is because it will absolutely play a role in cutting out parts for my wooden warriors.

In the past I used a Cricut cutting machine to cut out arm shapes and Spanish bicornes from craft foam sheet and, although I liked the flexibility of the material, I did not like how it took paint. With a laser I will easily be able to cut out shapes in 3mm and 1/8" thickness.

Right now I am in the experimental phase. I have long drawn images for wargaming using various drawing packages on the Macintosh. I bought the Glowforge Plus and it accepts SVG format files as input for 2D work, i.e. cutting and scoring. I have been using Inkscape for years, and that saves in many of the formats that the Glowforge accepts.

My first experiment was creating a painting rack for my paints. I use Pro Acryl mostly right now and they have a large bottle size than the craft paints and the Vallejo/Army Painter sized bottles, so I thought I would cut out my own as an initial project.

The laser in action.

I looked at other paint holders and I noticed that many have the paint bottles standing straight up and down. The better ones stack one on top of another. I didn't really want that kind. I wanted the bottles angled and showing the color as much as possible.

The top of the holder.

The top plate of the holder has holes slightly larger than the bottle's diameter (30mm) so the paint bottle can slide in comfortably.

The sides of the holder.

I decided to cut out two of these sheets so I could double up on the sides and make it stiffer.

The bottom of the holder.

The bottom has small holes so the bottle's tip could slide in.

The finished product.

I really like how I can see all the colors so easily. It takes up a bit of space, but I don't want stackable holders where I have to unstack them to remove a paint bottle and I am tired of having to pick up bottles to look at the color from holders where the bottles stand straight. If I were afraid of the bottles leaking I could still reverse them (tips up) and see the colors while being able to easily grab the bottle.

The different cuts.

This was a really instructive project and I look forward to doing more. Right now all of my projects are more war-game accessories and the like. I am strongly considering continuing to use the 3mm chipboard as a replacement for craft foam sheets (although I have a ton of it still).


  1. Replies
    1. I generally don't like markers and tokens on the table either, but use them in battle reports. Arrows to show movement or retreat, X to show combat or unit elimination, etc. I used to cut them from craft foam. Now I can draw up anything and have it cut from cardboard.

  2. This is going to be so great for making things like weapons and arms and such!

    1. Yes. I think I will be able to start up again with the Dark Ages army. The Danish axes I made before look cool, but they were a pain to make, as are good-looking swords.

    2. Hmmm, I did not even consider engraving shield designs on...

    3. I think it will be one of those things where you think of doing A with it, then you do A and it dawns on you that you could also do B, so you do B and then realize that C is possible. It will snowball I think once you start doing things for the figures with it. It's going to be a great tool I think!

  3. Oooooooooooo.... I'm jealous! Even though I'm still loving my new 3D printer. I can think of lots of projects for such a laser - mainly battlefield terrain/houses. Fantastic!

    1. Yes, I have been watching your creations with the 3D printer. I like the looks a lot, but I am still on the fence about all of this. I think there is something "pure" about not using these tools for our miniature creations, as Kenneth Van Pelt was hinting at. So I am keeping an eye on what you are doing to see if it sways me one way or another. Maybe after I retire I will get that too. Right now though, Patriot Printing is right down the road from me, so I can always get someone else to print things out for me (for a cost, of course).

      But, I decided that this is "The Year of Terrain" for me, and thus convinced myself that it was going to be the primary use of my laser and that manufacturing arms and weapons for wooden warriors would be secondary.

  4. Outstanding. So how is the learning curve progressing?

    1. I am very comfortable with 2D drawing software. I’ve been drawing on the computer for quite some time. The problem is translating my ideas to two dimensions. You have to think in terms of layers as it is really hard to control the laser three dimensionally. It is possible. If you have ever seen Laser carved 3-D objects then you know it’s possible. But that requires learning a 3-D modeling tool. I will probably have to come after retirement as my mind is on too many other things right now.

  5. All of my projects so far have been things like the above, paint holders, miniatures holders, terrain, etc. I still haven’t figured out how I want to use it for wooden warriors.




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