Laser Marquetry using Kerf Offset Feature

Just starting to learn more about my laser and figuring out how to use the LightBurn Kerf tool. Just made a rudimentary box for my CNC bits and had to do quite a bit of experimentation to get the tabs to fit together as I wanted them to. Do yo9u have any good resources on learning about the tool to help me not have to burn up so much material while learning or like usual does that just come with the territory.

Thanks for sharing.

Rob, only because you said “boxes” I’m reminded of where you can define the character of MANY box types and download exact SVG files to use in the laser. One variable is called “Burn” which is to account for kerf which of course affects fit. 0.1mm is a good default but specific laser and material character can widen that. Give it a shot, it’s a cool site.

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I have visited the site and started playing around but need more time and experience using the site and hos to apply the kerf information.

Knowing you it shouldn’t be too long to mastery!

As Travis mentioned, is a very nice tool for making boxes of many sizes but also THIS is what I use to get the right settings for the design. Granted, it does not adjust your kerf in your own designs but might help you find your kerf at particular lens distances and wood thicknesses.

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I just saw the new laser delivery video, and I have to say I might have had a little emotional reaction to seeing you all coordinate that delivery and installation! WOW Congratulations! I am 100% interested in Laser Marquetry. Would go great with those shaker trays…

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the link showing how we got these great beasts through a second story window at the shop into the new Digital Tools room.

Also, if laser marquetry is of interest then come to the Shop on Saturday, June 25!
We’ve scheduled demonstrations of all sorts, including of the two new lasers.
In addition, we’ll share plans for such themes as laser marquetry.

And we’ll provide a glimpse into how it’s done.

Paul Duffield just challenged me to produce smoke-free veneer inlays using the laser. I started with a one-pass cutting strategy and the results weren’t good.

Shifted gears and went to a lighter touch, a multi-pass cut with lower power (and less smoke). While a faint trace could be seen (top) it wasn’t something a little alcohol wipe wouldn’t easily remove (bottom).

Having found the strategy for success I challenged myself: design-to-finished inlay in 20 minutes. Below are the results.

We’ll demonstrate this one Saturday morning in July at a free event at the shop. Perhaps I’ll challenge Paul to demonstrate doing the same thing in the same timeframe with a scalpel. :joy:


Smoke-free wood burning is quite the challenge. Does Paul work at Benihana? This could be fun to watch and a little dangerous. LOL

Nice 20 minute project!


If you can adjust for kerf to do marquetry then you can adjust for thickness to do inlays.
This is a simple project I completed today just to develop my laser inlay technique.
Once you’ve dialed in your settings, cranking these out is a matter of assembly.


Why would the compressed air be superior to masking ( just learning here). Is it because of the extra work to apply and later remove the masking?

Masking is great and there’s nothing wrong with it with three caveats: 1) the tape MUST a good flat seal 2) you need to dial in your settings WITH samples covered and 3) it can be a real hassle picking off tape from “islands”.

Fans and air assist are simply easier though not as effective.

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With the new lasers, is the kerf adjustment still at 0.035" for both lasers? Or is there a different kerf width now?
I’m making a candle holder/box that I got the drawings off the net and the sides fit very loosely. So I plan to try to adjust the drawings or start from scratch via or similar site.

Given the passage of time and variety of materials, I’d say “Who knows?!”
As with most laser projects, you need to do tests on your materials.
You can see an example of this in the picture here.

If you’d my Lightburn file that I use to determine proper offset then let me know.

I conducted a test today on paper-backed veneer: 0.1 mm was the proper kerf offset.

Travis I have been looking more at this inlay technique and can’t quite recall how you did the kerf test in the picture. How were you sure the circle was 20mm - was this the one you joked about your favorite tool being calipers - and I said I can never get a consistent measurement with calipers?

Sure wish I could’ve helped with learning and teacching this topic, but my wife’s care situation takes it’s toll on my ability to devote time away from the house. Hope you found some good people to take over your lead on being able to teach the rest of us.

Calipers are the answer. True that measurement can be inexact but you’re not looking for exact. The goal is to identify the hole closest to 20mm then test fit circles till you find the tightest fit. That circle’s marking tells you the offset to laser cut.

FYI, Thomas Roetker and Peter Tobias have signed up to teach laser marquetry. All is well!

Hi, I’m jumping in here as I haven’t seen any good laser cutting for marquetry forums.

One technique I’ve used for figuring our the kerf is to create a series of small squares, each varying by 0.001 in (or similar). Then you see which box fits in which hole and you have your answer. The typical kerf I’ve seen is 0.005 in, though of course it can vary depending on the exact material (thickiness mostly).

Another trick is to create 2 versions of the shape, flipping over to cut in a mirrorlike reversed orientation. Now you have a cork-n-bottle possibility, with the fit being very good. This will change the kerf allowance as it’s a bit wider.

Finally, I’ll note that some like to leave a bit of space and fill with something to give a bit of a line. Paul Schurch likes to do this and he taught doing this with same glue as you put under the veneer and some colored fill.


Good input, thanks.
We hope to have Paul teach a workshop sometime.
When he’s back from Hawaii with time then we will learn from the master!