How to Laser Cut a Lantern

This is the lamp I made for the Illuminares Lantern Festival 2013 here in Vancouver BC.
VHS lamp

If you have access to a laser cutter, some design software like inkscape then you can follow these steps to make your own design much like mine.

Step 1: http://boxmaker.rahulbotics.com/ I chose a width, height, and length of 5 inches. I chose a thickness of 1/8″ (0.125). The website generated a PDF which I saved to my desktop.

Step 2: I opened the PDF in Inkscape and carefully edited the top and bottom of the box to have a lip (as seen in the photograph). I also found the VHS logo in SVG format, imported that to the same drawing, and positioned it on the four sides of the box. Be very careful that you get your pictures the right way up! I got one upside down and had to recut it. I also added a hole at the top to stick in a light bulb. Around the hole I added the words “marginallyclever.com 2013”

Step 3: I export the designs as DXF. I chose the minimal number of options. If you are offered a version of DXF, go with the oldest.

Step 4: I loaded DXF File into the laser software, made sure it was to scale, and cut the pieces.

Step 5: I did a test fix, then glued a single layer of wax paper inside each side of the box.

Step 6: I glued the sides of the box together. In the future versions I will make everything hold together with laser cut linchpins.

Step 7: I put some pink EL wire in the hole and turned it on.


If you would like a custom box made and you don’t have access to a laser cutter, send me an SVG of your design and we’ll work out a price.