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Laser Bent Boxes

As part of the laser cutting community, we're no stranger to a living hinge or 2, but there are a lot of makers out there that have grown tired of the living hinge look. To combat this, there has been an increase in people experimenting with kerf cuts, to give the outside of their work a much cleaner and sleeker appearance.

evansd2 - Bending hardwood with kerf cuts (down with living hinges!)Bending hardwood with kerf cuts (down with living hinges!)

Now, kerf cut wood is nothing new, it's simply the method of sawing many lines nearly all the way through a piece of wood, allowing it to be bent into a curve. Over on the Glowforge forums, evansd2 has taken this method and applied it to his laser cutter. By etching out a series of V shapes nearly all the way through the wood, he was able to make a beautifully rounded box.

evansd2 - Bending hardwood with kerf cuts (down with living hinges!)

Inspired by this work, kenyer wanted to streamline the process somewhat, by reducing the amount of time needed to run the laser. To do this, he decided to simply laser cut a series of lines, rather than engrave Vs.

kenyer - Laser Bending Ply WoodLaser Bending Ply Wood

Both methods are definitely beautiful to look at, but fairly extensive; involving a lot of trial and error. In order to bend the wood you need to dampen it, which causes the wood to expand, and then shrink again as it dries. This can leave the finished project distorted, and no longer the correct dimensions.

kenyer - Laser Bending Ply Wood

In the end, is this method worth it for your upcoming projects? Well, that's up to you. It certainly produces some beautiful results, but it's pretty time intensive. You can achieve something very similar by using a living hinge and then covering the work with a strip of veneer.

You can read more about evansd2's work over on the Glowforge forums, and kenyer's write up can be found on Instructables.