Bending laser cut wood without steam or forms

If you want to pretty up your project boxes, we can’t imagine anything better than [Shaun]‘s walnut plywood, laser-cut, kerf bent Arduino case. Instead of the slot-and-tab construction of traditional laser-cut enclosures, [Shaun] used a technique to bend plywood without steaming, heating, and eventually scorching his somewhat expensive plywood.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this accordian style laser-cut kerf bend. By alternating laser cuts along the desired radius, the plywood can be bent by hand. The technique is called kerf bending and is perfect for putting an organic touch on the usual 90° angle project boxes we see.

[Shaun] has an Instructable for the smaller boxes that are part of his Arduino powered wireless sensor network. This Instructable goes over the pattern of laser cuts required to get a nice, smooth kerf bend, and also shows off how beautiful a laser-cut project box can be when cut out of aromatic cedar.

Comments

  1. Trav says:

    This looks like an excellent enclosure for retro style projects. Reminds me of an old radio.

  2. ChalkBored says:

    The woodwork looks great, but those screws…
    Please find something that looks better, or design the box so all the screws are hidden underneath.

    • Shaun says:

      Agree, it’d probably look nicer without the screws (but the photo makes them look worse because they pick up the flash). It’s hard to do hidden fastenings using a laser though. the laser can only do 2D so you either need to have a peg and a hole or a screw.

      I guess I could have glued on the side pieces and used strong magnets to hold the curved piece in place. (I want to be able to open it up for access to the electronics.)

      Currently, the nuts that the screws fasten into are hidden underneath so simply reversing the screws wouldn’t work too well.

    • Eirinn says:

      Or sink them in a little… should be ok :) not sure if you can get… not sure what they’re called “trumpet head”? Bolts. But that’d work too.

  3. anon says:

    This seems familiar…

  4. FartFac3 says:

    why was my message deleted?

  5. HAD says:

    Dupe?

  6. Glenn says:

    Hi…when designing a box, is there a way of calculating the length of a side to accommodate the kerf bend based on the thickness of the material? Or should I make a model first using thick card of something?
    Thanks,

    Glenn

    • Shaun Crampton says:

      Yes, I recommend drawing out the side on paper. Then, take the radius of your curved sections and calculate their circumference using pi * 2 * radius and multiply by the fraction of a circle that you’re using. E.g. for a 90 degree curve that section would be radius * 2 * pi * 90/360.

      Also, the curved portions are pretty springy so if you’re a few mm short then it’ll stretch to fill the gap.

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