Building Moe's Tavern from scratch using a $2200 laser cutter! Believe it or not but that is considered cheap compared to some that cost well over $10,000.
Building Moe's Tavern was a lot of fun, the hardest part of the entire process was actually designing the building on the computer.
I used a vector drawing program called CorelDRAW x8, it's very similar to another program I'm much more familiar with called Adobe Illustrator however there are just enough differences between the two programs that I had to watch an online learning course in order to understand the different functions.
Moe's Tavern is not the only design I've cut so far using the laser, I also recently cut and engraved a paint rack to hold all of my Vallejo paints. Laser cut paint racks are very popular in hobby shops so it's pretty cool to be able to design and cut my very own version to exactly suit my needs.
The possibilities are nearly endless with whats possible using a laser cutter, I have heaps of ideas and projects that I'll be working on in 2018 using this awesome laser cutter!
If you too are planning on buying your own laser cutter I strongly recommend doing your research before buying one from China, if you can afford it the brand name laser cutters are a much better first start however if budget is the limiting factor and you don't mind fixing small problems like mirror alignment or loose leveling beds then a cheap laser might just be a good fit.
Be sure to check the laser cutting section of this website if you want to find out more about laser cutting and if you want to download the free plans for cutting Moe's Tavern and the Paint Rack you'll find those plans HERE: LASER CUTTING PLANS
Buying the laser cutter:
Laser cutting has been around since the mid 60’s but it has only been in recent times that laser cutters for hobbyists have been accessible and affordable.
At the moment you can buy a cheap CO2 laser cutter from China for about $300 however for that price you’ll often be spending more time trying to get the thing to work rather than actually cutting stuff! That said… if you have the time and patience you can often take one of those cheap laser cutters and get them working quite well.
I have recently purchased a relatively cheap Chinese laser cutter from a local tool center here in Australia, it’s basically a cheap laser cutter from China however the store that had it imported completely set up the laser cutter and tuned it to make sure nothing was broken and that it’s working as best as it can.
The above images show early experiments in CO2 laser cutting research and one of the first 2 axis moving optics laser cutter.
In total I spent $2200 for a laser cutter that costs about $1600 direct from China.
What to cut:
The first building on the drawing board will be a familiar one to a lot of you, ‘Moe’s Tavern’ from the Simpsons. I’ve decided to build this building in HO scale because the Simpsons brings back some nostalgia and secondly it’s a nice simple structure with some points of interest that will be a good test for the laser cutter.
All of the initial structures I design will be made available on my website for you to freely download should you wish to have a go at doing some laser cutting once the tutorial video has been completed.
Another product I’ve recently discovered is a wood based material called ‘Task Board’ again it is sold through many hobby stores and it is also sold through Micro-Mark, it is sold in a wide variety of thicknesses and is described as
Very easy to cut and perfect for laser cutters
The big test will be with how well the task board handles the hot and humid conditions here in tropical far north Queensland! I guess only time will tell, I have a large batch of task board in a variety of thicknesses on its way also from Micro-Mark.
Below is an architectural model build using Taskboard and a laser cutter.
If you'd like to indirectly support what I do and you'd like to save some money be sure to have a look at Micro-Mark and when at the checkout use the promo code
'Boulder' to save 10%.
I shop at Micro-Mark for a lot of my tools and I also purchase many of my supplies there as well, the plywood and taskboard that I'll be using for this laser cutting tutorial has been purchased from Micro-Mark.
It's not too late to find the perfect Christmas gift and save some money at the same time :)