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PlyWood Name Plate

/!\ You should have some experience of program Inkscape and LaserGRBL.

/!\ I am using program LaserGRBL also for milling.

I have bought a 3 Axis Mini DIY CNC Router 3018, with 2500mW Laser Module Milling Engraver for about 160 EUR at Banggood.

It came in kit form, but it was easy to assemble.



Application name plate

The first application was a name plate made from poplar ply wood. See the photo on the right.

Program Inkscape was used to create a *.svg vector file.

Program LaserGRBL was used to convert the *.svg file to a G-code file (*.nc) for the CNC-Controller with Firmware GRBL, also for the manual control of the CNC.

The text was burned as outline with a Laser, the edges of the name plate are milled half round. The 2 mounting holes are also milled, so there was no extra work.

The poplar ply wood was bought in A4 size sheets (210 x 297 mm), 5 mm thick, 10 pieces in a bag.

The plates are cut from a DIN A4 sheet in 2 pieces:

The next cut was:

Other parameters:



Laser writing

First you have to generate the text in a vector description. That can be done easily with program Inkscape.

First select the text icon.

Place the cursor on the lower left position, of the work sheet, to avoid an offset.

In the header line of Inkscape select font Comic Sans or what you like.

Select the font size, e.g. 30 pt.

You get also the length = 106 mm from Inkscape to calculate the placement of the name on the ply wood plate. Symmetric gives the best look.

Save the vector text in a file e.g. plate_Miss_Kamikaze.svg.


To burn the text with the Laser in the ply wood, a good and free program is LaserGRBL (Windows only). Open program LaserGRBL and open the file plate_Miss_Kamikaze.svg.

Next LaserGRBL shows the parameters for Laser burning, see the screen shot on the right.

They can be set permanent in the preferences.

Below you see the screen shot of the processed vector text file plate_Miss_Kamikaze.svg.

Program LaserGRBL has calculated the outline of the text.

Also the size of the text line is shown in mm.


Below the text line there are the most important LaserGRBL functions shown as icons.

What I use most, are the globe to set the actual Laser position to zero, and the big eye to the right switches ON/OFF the Laser with reduced power for navigating to the (mostly X,Y zero) position.

/!\ Take care to place the Laser before burning to the X = Y = 0 position and click on the globe.


Draw Half Circle with Inkscape

Because the program Inkscape is not so easy to learn, I like to document the steps to generate a Half circle in order to mill the ply wood left and right.

After starting program Inkscape select the circle (E) icon, or hit E on the keyboard.

While holding down the CTRL key, draw a round circle with the mouse, left key pressed.

Then move the cursor close to the circle outline, until a cross is seen beside the cursor.

With a left click you select the circle, marked with some double arrows. Now you can position the circle to the lower left corner (zero X,Y) of the work sheet. See the screen shot to the right.

The diameter should be: name plate height + 2 * 0.2 mm tolerance, in order to avoid an undercut if not perfect position aligned.






Next to the colors. If you do not see in the right side of the windows the Fill and Stroke parameter window, click left in the color field (Inkscape window, lower left edge) of Fill and Stroke. If the circle is filled with a color, select in the Fill and Stroke parameter window in the upmost line Fill and click below on the x to remove the color.

Then click on Stroke paint and right from the x to icon Flat color. Below click on button HSV an select a color for the arc.

If the arc thickness is very thin (0.265), click on Stroke style in the Fill and Stroke parameter window and increase the Width with + to e.g. 0.465 mm.

On the right you see the Fill and Stroke parameter window, for reference.




When the circle is selected, you see in the upper line of the Inkscape window the size values of the the circle. See the screen shot on the right.

Adjust Rx and Ry (Radius) to the values you need, Angel Start to 90, and End to 270 degree. Finally click on icon unclosed shape and pull the half circle to the lower left edge of the work sheet.

Last, save the vector Half circle in a file, e.g. Inkscape_Half_circle_32.6mm.svg.

Milling a half circle

In order to look nice, the sides of the name plate were milled half round.

In order to optimize the workflow the mounting hole was also milled, diameter 3 mm.

While for the Laser writing program LaserGRBL takes care about the writing, milling the half rounds at the edges of the plate need some handwork.

For the half round load the file Inkscape_Half_circle_32.6mm.svg in LaserGRBL and export the G-code in a file named, e.g. Inkscape_Half_circle_32.6mm.nc.

At the begin and end of this file some additions must be added.

G90          (use absolute coordinates)
M5           (spindle OFF)
G0X18.5Y0.06 (Go to Start)
M3 S1000     (spindel 100%)
G1X16.01Y0.23F1000 (move, speed = 100%)

G90          (use absolute coordinates)
M3 S1000     (spindel 100%)
G0X18.5Y0.06 (Go to Start)
G1X16.01Y0.23F50 (move, speed = 5%)

M5 (spindle OFF)
G0 X0 Y0 Z0 (move back to origin)

G91Z7F870        ; incremental mode, Z 7 mm up, 2 mm above the plate
G90              ; use absolute coordinates
X9.8Y18.2        ; drive to screw hole position
G91Z-7F100       ; drill hole with speed 100 of 1000
G90              ; use absolute coordinates
G91Z7F870        ; incremental mode, Z 7 mm up, 2 mm above the plate
G90              ; use absolute coordinates
M5               ; stop spindle
G0 X0 Y0 Z0 (move back to origin)
G91Z-7F100       ; place molding cutter to Z = 0

/!\ Take care to place the molding cutter before milling to the X = Y = Z = 0 position and click on the globe.

See below how LaserGRBL shows the extended G-Code file.




CNC 3018

The photo on the right shows my CNC 3018 mill (Clone) which can also be used as a Laser Plotter.

The original development was from company Sain Smart, and is today replaced by model genmitsu-3018-pro-cnc

The molding cutter lower side is actually positioned 7 mm above Z = 0. For milling, the molding cutter should be moved to Z = 0.

The wooden piece below the Laser (43 mm height) is used to adjust the Laser distance to print the material with optimum focus.

The Laser can be mounted instead of the spindle motor.

From the read me.txt file of the manufacturer:

  1. After adjusting the machine, open the engraving file to check where the zero point is, usually at the lower left corner, the same as the 2 test codes.
  2. Locate the machine to the lower left corner of the workpiece first, then lower the cutter and the spindle must be turned on. Slow it down when the cutter is close to the workpiece, gently adjust it to the surface.
  3. Important! After lowering the cutter, click "XY zero " and "Z zero". Then you can click "start" to engrave.

/!\ It is better to run the machine without any workpiece first. Test it before you start formal engraving.

Below is a photo of the CNC Controler board.




  1. Inkscape version 1.0.1, multi platform.

  2. LaserGRBL (Windows only).

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PlyWoodNamePlate (last edited 2021-01-23 08:45:23 by RudolfReuter)