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Laser GIS map

By | Artwork, Carpentry, Engineering, Python | No Comments

Hello this is a tutorial used to create a GIS laser cut contour map.

Tools/Software needed

QGIS – Free
LaserWeb 4


  1. Download QGISA A free and open source Geographic Information System software from here http://www.qgis.org/en/site/
  2. Download your GIS data as im using UK coastlines ive used OS terrain data from here https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/opendatadownload/products.html  i downloaded the ESRI shapefiles
  3. Sort through the different shapefiles until you find the correct data set for the location you are planning to plot


  1. Export the project to DXF and open in Illustrator/Inkscape – select all the artwork and ‘Fit Artwork to Selected Bounds’
  2. Select all artwork and give the contours a stroke of 0.01pt
  3. Then select the coastline – i had to delete the lowtide mark and join some lines due to the harbours and estuary. Copy the layer and paste into a new layer called ‘Coastline’
  4. Delete the selected coastline in the original layer then select the remaining contours and paste into a new layer called ‘Contours’
  5. You then need to clean up the coastline and contours so there is a clear definition between the two, i had a few island outcrops and odd small single lines i had to delete. It should now look like below
  6. Export or Save As SVG

K40 Laser cutter

By | Carpentry, Electronics | No Comments

K40 Laser and Cohesion 3d mini review part 1

This is a journal of my experience with the K40 Chinese laser. I bought this after the need to produce small bespoke ply components for some of my other projects. Realising a UK machine was well out of my price range my attention was brought to the K40 through EBay.

After much research, I realised there was a great community surrounding these machines and a wealth of additional knowledge regarding upgrades and tuition. So, I took the plunge and ordered one. I paid around £289 including a free waist belt? Wtf? from a Chinese seller that had a warehouse in Germany. Around 3 days later the waist band turned up…ive no idea why they do this but my guess it’s something to do with customs/duty? Initially I thought id been conned but emailed the seller who said the laser would shortly follow…around the 7th day it did…This is my K40 Story.


Box arrived well wrapped and protected – it looked like the box had taken a couple of knocks in transit but all looked ok inside…

Now upon inspection I discover a catalogue of faults and damage…as I almost expected this and was capable of fixing lots of it I didn’t take this up with the seller. If you’re not prepared to get stuck in and fix these up…id suggest not buying one, you absolutely get what you pay for here and some of it is really eye opening.

Firstly, relief that the tube appears to be well protected and there are no visible cracks…before powering the machine up I discover..

  • Out of square gantry that I can only guess is a manufacturing defect and not damage/twist etc
  • Bent controller off stand easily fixed by removing and bending back.
  • All the hex screw heads were sheared off from my guess of overtightening cheap metal.

The general quality of the machine is very poor but what do you expect from a sub £300 laser that’s equivalent would cost thousands in the UK.


Pay some thought to where you are going to keep your laser. You will need at least 4 plug sockets, relatively close to natural ventilation and a level work surface with spare room for your laptop/tools etc. Im a carpenter so I easily knocked up a table with some scrap ply. A nice job to do when your waiting for your machine to arrive.


Please, Please visually check all of the connections under the chassis lid I noticed some of mine had come loose and there was a live wire drifting about from one of the switches. The terminals should ideally be covered in lots of silicone. EARTH EARTH EARTH! The next important step is to earth the machine the PSU kicks out I believe around 20-30 thousand volts and you don’t want that mixing with your ticker. I ran an earth cable back from the earth screw on the back of the machine into the earth of the socket that the laser is plugged into. (If this is wrong please advise) Ive heard of people using external earth rods?

Air and Water

The next job was to get the ancillary (pump and air assist) extras up and running. I searched the house for a convenient water container and settled on a 20l coolbox. I drilled three holes for the inlet, outlet and power in the lid and placed the pump inside the box and filled with two thirds with tap water. Yes, I know you’re supposed to use distilled water but I didn’t have any and I have no patience J

I started the pump and kept an eye on the laser tube expecting to see leaks as the water flowed through…no leaks but plenty of air bubbles. I was worried this was a sign of cracks in the tube but after trying numerous methods of getting rid of these some violent shaking and tilting almost vertically of the machine and they all disappeared.

I fitted a 3d printed air assist nozzle brought from Ebay to a cheap aquarium pump total cost about £30 including the telephone coil hose. If you look in the top left corner of the cutting bay you can see a small hole to thread the hose to exit the rear of the housing and attach to your pump. I then plugged the pump into the Lasers rear plug sockets.


The air extraction unit provided with the machine is a joke…so is the method of pulling the air through the cutting bay. I’d heard of many methods of dissembling the gantry to remove the annoying air duct, cutting the rear of the machine and peeling back the metal to pull it out. Or you could do what I did and just dived straight in with a 4” grinder and cut it straight out. There will be sparks everywhere as they bounce of the inside of the cutting bay but don’t worry keep your goggles on and you’ll fly through it no time J

Now…I am very likely to be just cutting wood/mdf so I believe the best method of extraction is to leave the lid open and use air assist, im not too bothered about the smell of burnt wood in the workshop. Please don’t do this if you are cutting acrylics as ive heard it gives off a very toxic fume.

And please if you’re keeping the lid open use laser safety goggles!!

Now I was ready to test fire the laser….

Software and laser testing/mirror alignment

CorelDraw and the CorelLaser plugin were the most clunky awful programs to use. After being used to Illustrator and CAD I knew I wasn’t going to get on with these. Why on earth do you need to plug a USB cable in to use the software!!??

I went straight ahead and ordered a cohesion 3d mini from here http://cohesion3d.com/cohesion3d-mini-laser-upgrade-bundle/

Before ordering I did do one test cut in Corel Laser and I was really pleased to see the laser cleanly cut through 4mm laser ply. I am presuming the I don’t need any mirror alignment so im going to skip over this but there is a great tutorial here if you need to do yours.

Cohesion 3d upgrade

I ordered my board from the US and it arrived 3 days later in the UK with a £25 customs charge. Nothing you can do about that but just be aware. I read as much documentation as I could from this great wiki here. The board doesn’t exactly just swap out for the old one…or at least in my case. There seems to be several different PSUs on the laser and you need to define which is which. My PSU has the screw terminals some have JSTs. You can see my setup here.

My Cohesion settings json file contents below –




Size Menu

X-length: 300 mm
Y-length: 200 mm
Laser Beam Diameter: .15 mm
Cutting Mat Thickness: 0 mm
Air Assist Noxzzle: Disable

Default Import DPI

Generic SVG: 72
Inkscape: 90
Illustrator: 72
Bitmap: 300


Optional entries (Opt) are ignored for now
Concatenate Raster x Moves: Disable
Start G-code: Opt
Laser ON Command:Opt
Laser OFF Command: Opt
PWM max: 1
Homing sequence: G28.2
NOTE: G28 will not home corrctly insure you use G28.2
End Gcode: Opt
Travel Moves: 100 mm/s
LaserTest Power: Opt
LaserTest Duration: Opt

Tool Menu

Safety Lock: disable
CNC Cam: Disable
My JSON backup file for LaserWeb



B52 Handplane

By | Artwork, Carpentry, Surfing | No Comments
Days like these

Days like these

So far this summer there have been a few days where it isn’t quite surfable with a shortboard but still looking very inviting. Having recently tried out and enjoyed a hand plane i decided to make one…

1. Materials

Local timber yard

Local timber yard

After some research there are many types of timber that are suitable for a handplane from the ultimate Paulownia hardwood (very hard to source and ultra light) to 18mm plywood. Whilst passing an old haunt of my carpentry days ‘Woodstock’ in Falmouth i popped in to check what offcuts they had that could work – i picked up a 400x200x30mm piece of tulip and a similar size beech for £2 each.

2. Design

HandplaneSome research led me to designing two shapes that i called the ‘B-52’ and ‘Zeppelin’. I designed two the two plan shapes in AutoCAD at 1:1 scale so we can print them out on an A1 sheet of paper and use an old boat building technique called ‘Lofting’ to transfer the shape to a hardboard template.

With the PDF file below you can print it out to an A1 sheet (ask a local architects office to print it out for you they will probably charge you £2-3)

Download Handplane A1 PDF Template – Message me if you would like the DWG

You can either ‘loft’ out the dimension which involves measuring out from the crosses on the centre line of the board using the given measurements which will give you a series of dots that you join to create the outline for the shape. Or cut out the shape from the paper and paste/glue to the hardboard to cut out.

The hand grab cut out is optional – ive used the leash strap system instead.


3. Construction

After you have transferred the plan shape hardboard cut it out with a JigsawLofted-Handplane

Cut out the shape leaving the pencil line on the template – its better to hand finish to the line with some sandpaper or a very sharp block plane


The hardboard template. Mark around this on your blank



The Rocker.

This part is optional ive seen many handplanes without the rocker cut or steam bent in and im sure it doesnt make a world of difference if you use a flat piece of ply/timber.

The technique to cut the rocker into the timber i used is called ‘kerfing’ where you use a series of saw cuts to remove the bulk of the timber as illustrated below. You need a sliding bench saw ideally to do this or you could use a circular saw. The idea is to make a series of saw cuts very close together using the depth gauge on the blade and then ‘hammer’ out the pieces then you’ll be left with a rough rocker which you can sand good with an orbital sander.



Sanding out the cuts to produce the rocker


The finished rocker. I had to keep re-applying the template outline as i sanded


Cut out with a jigsaw, and sanded back to the pencil line outline, ready for shaping the rails.


Rails – I used a router to form the shape of the rails until the guide bearing lost contact with the rail – too risky…just use a rolled up piece of sandpaper and your eye..


4. Finishing


Depending on what you used for your blank check what the best waterproofing solution is. For most hardwoods i would say oiling should should be fine. I used some old danish oil used to coat worktops. Apply liberally a first coat and wipe it in ideally with a lint free cloth or whatever you can find an old sock will work 🙂  Allow to dry 24hrs and reapply a second coat. This will also act as a primer for the final coat of varnish.

Decals – I had a sheet of t-shirt transfer paper that i thought might work on the timber before applying a final coat of varnish and it does. Print out your decals as per the paper instructions and apply with a hot iron – obviously make sure you use the protective paper/greaseproof paper.





Varnishing – I used some gloss yacht varnish to achieve a high gloss ‘glass’ finish following the process below

1. Sand all over with 120 grit.

2. Apply base coat of varnish using 25% white spirit solution

3. Sand base coat with 240 grit

4, Apply 1st coat – wait 24hrs to dry and then sand back using 400 grit

5. Apply 3rd and final coat

5. Leash


I used the velcro ankle attachment an old surfboard leash. Secure the leash around your hand, place the strap on the board and mark the screw holes through the strap. I used brass slotted screws with cups. Thats it ready to shred!