Laser cut travel chess/checkers set

This is a project for my sister who asked me to print a chess set on my 3D printer. Well I never got around to that so when I found the files for this one I decided to make it.

This picture shows a painted piece of ~3mm bass plywood painted white with a vinyl mask that was cut with the laser. Laser cutting vinyl produces some nasty smoke so I guess it’s good that I have an enclosure with exhaust to outside.

Here I’ve painted the black squares. This is the first time I have used vinyl masking.

After removing the vinyl the board looked pretty good IMHO.

I then cut out the pieces for the chess set and noticed that my white squares were now yellowed from the smoke. In hind site I should have cut out the board and removed it before cutting the rest to minimize smoke damage.

Here is the finished board set up for a game of chess. I repainted all the white squares which was a lot of fun…

This picture shows the bottom side with most of the pieces packed up. The two pieces on the right are my version of a checker and a checker king. The design files were for chess only.

The last picture is it all closed up and latched for travel!

Comments welcome!



Nicely done, Michael. Some painstaking work completed there. I like the design of the latch which really adds a touch of class to the finished item. Can you share the details of the laser and software used to drive it? Thanks.

My laser is a little SainSmart genmitsu that says 5.5 watt output but I’m not sure if that’s the optical power. For some reason I think the optical is only like 3.5 but maybe it’s 5.5.

I used Vectric desktop to do the tool paths. I have LightBurn but have not used it much. I have noticed that LightBurn seems better and much faster for photo’s on tile etc.

I had a hard time trying to find the right data that can be trusted. Even the literature from SainSmart’s own documentation is unclear as to what the real output power is.

I don’t know anything about Vectric software (long story) but I can thoroughly recommend LightBurn, which I do use and have done for almost two years. The software is outstanding for any laser application and it will run, diode, CO2 and fibre lasers.

The control that it gives the user is excellent and it is updated frequently. Because the company do nothing else but produce this laser driving software, it does a fine job of driving a laser for all purposes. I have burned many a design into ceramic tiles, slate, glass, wood and metal, using LightBurn.

That’s china for you :grimacing:

I’ve had good results with LightBurn given the little time I’ve spent with it. I should probably give it a shot for cutting and see if there is any difference. I’ve only used it for photo’s so far. It’s just easy to use Vectric because I’m already familiar with it from carving.

I made a few John Clark cubes and used LightBurn to cut 3mm plywood with my smaller 4.2W laser. 1 pass would cut around 2mm thick so I settled on two passes at 1.5mm in depth. These are the John Clark corner clamps which I hold on with an elastic band while the glue sets.

John Clark clamps. Simple pattern and very effective.

I’ll give LightBurn a try for cutting, I had to use 4 passes, at 85% power, with a feed of 4mm/sec to cut ~3mm bass plywood. I try to limit my laser to 85% power because I read that it will last longer if I don’t use 100%.

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I have these that I 3D printed. I think they are similar but I had no idea what they were called. I have found that a 3D printer and a CNC is a nice combo. I have used the printer to make my laser mount, a Y drag chain mount, cable management stuff, etc.

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Hmmm… I think those numbers are strongly suggestive that the output power of your laser is less than the stated 5.5W. My two passes were 80% at 100mm/min. Your speed equates to 240mm/min which may be too fast for a low powered laser. I would probably opt for half that speed.

It has been said that the life expectancy of a diode laser is likely to be around 10,000 hours. I am not sure if that is at full power but 10,000 hours is 416.67 days of 24 hours for every day. I don’t run my laser every day and when I do run it, the burn time is often less than 30 minutes. If I assume a continuous burn time of two hours every day, I could expect the diode to last for 13.7 years. I possibly run the laser for a total of 5 times per month. This means that my maximum burn time is 10 hours per month or 120 hours per year. 10,000 / 120 reveals that I can use the laser for 83.33 years before considering that I should replace the diode. :joy:

I have struggled to make 3D printing work for me so I don’t have one. My original Snapmaker machine had the facility and I was frustrated by the amount of plastic I wasted.

Well, when you do the math I guess maybe it doesn’t matter too much what power you use as it will be obsolete in a year, never mind 83 :rofl:

Absolutely true. Unsurprisingly, I don’t find myself worrying about wearing out the laser diode.