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Custom Laser Engraved Cutting Boards

Custom Laser Engraved Cutting Boards main article image
Posted on June 19, 2021 by Isabella Ruiz

Perhaps the simplest Glowforge craft! These custom engraved cutting boards are cheap and easy to make! By personalizing your cutting board, it makes the perfect housewarming gift, birthday present, and more! To engrave a cutting board you will need only a few items! A cutting board, masking tape, adobe illustrator (or a photo of what you would like to engrave), and a measuring device (I use digital calipers). 

The first step! 

First, you will need to find your cutting boards! I would recommend using bamboo cutting boards for this project, you can generally find these in packs of three on amazon or at any reseller store such as Ross, Home Goods, and even Burlington! When you do buy your cutting boards make sure that you get ones without any branded logo on them, especially if you plan to sell customized cutting boards online, (like on Etsy). To check this I flip the cutting board over to look at the back, if the biggest cutting board does not have a branded logo the other ones in the pack won’t either!

Customizing your cutting board

There are three ways you can customize your cutting board, the first is to pick out or purchase a photo or ready to laser text that you would like to engrave, the second is to create your own text in Adobe Illustrator. If you either do not have Illustrator or do not want to purchase a pre-made graphic you can use the text feature in the Glowforge design space (must subscribe to Glowforge premium). Today, I will be showing you how to do the last two! 

Prepping the cutting board

The only prepping you need to do is to mask the areas that you will be laser engraving on your cutting board, if you don’t mask your cutting board the edges along your engraving will look brown and charred. You definitely do not need to mask the whole board, just where your design will engrave, if your design is 3”x4” I would recommend masking an area of 4”x5”. It is also important to get an accurate measurement of the cutting boards thickness, to do this you can use a ruler and eyeball it or digital calipers, for better accuracy I strongly recommend investing in a pair! After you take the measurement you will save it for a later step! 

Creating the text in Illustrator

To create the text in illustrator you are going to first open the application, after doing so create a new document, size does not entirely matter but it may be easier to make it the size of our cutting board to help with the layout of the text, my cutting board is 6”x8” so that is what I will be making my canvas size.

After sizing your canvas hit the blue create button. We can now move on to selecting the text tool, on the left-hand side of your screen you will see a toolbar, locate the tool that is a bolded T (circled in red on the photo).

Once you have selected the tool click anywhere on your canvas. The next step is to choose what you want your customization to say, the possibilities are limitless! My cutting board is for an anniversary so I am typing out the couples name and the year they were married.

Personally, I do not like the default text so I am going to highlight my entire text and change my font by finding the character section (shown in the red box) and selecting the text menu drop down.

I chose the font Sherland, I would be cautious of what font you select, if your font is too thin it may not engrave well. After selecting your font, select what size you would like it, I chose 60pt. I also want my text to be centered so under the paragraph section I selected the centered button. (Shown in the red box). After editing your text it is time to export your file. Locate your file tab in the lop left corner, select the export drop down menu, and select export (shown as a blue highlighted button in the photo).

Today we are exporting our text as a PNG, after you select the location you would like the file stored and give your document a name, select the blue button in the bottom right corner that says export.

A PNG options menu will pop up, ignore this pop up and instead hit the OK button. Congrats! You now have a Glowforge ready file! You can now load your design into the maker space, you can follow along with the photos and instructions below to upload your design and create new settings for your bamboo cutting board! 

Creating the text in Glowforge/Settings 

If you do not have Adobe Illustrator there is still another way to customize your text! Navigate to the Glowforge dashboard, once you do so select the create button and press “new blank design”.

(If you already have a file you made or bought you will select “upload from file” instead, you can now skip to the settings step), when the design space loads look to the top middle of your screen, if you pay for Glowforge premium there will be a bolded letter T (shown in a red circle), select this option.

Because this feature is in its BETA testing there are a very limited amount of texts that you are able to choose from. When you do find a text you like, type out your personalized message. For each line of text you want you will need to start the process over again for a new line of text, as Glowforge does not allow the user to have multiple lines of text in one text box.

When you have all your lines of texts, arrange them in order from top to bottom so the top line of text will engrave first and so on. You can do this by clicking on your design in the far left queue and dragging it up or down to change the order. Next, we are going to enter in our settings and save them for future prints.

Click on your design in the far left queue, select manual settings and enter in these numbers, speed 1000, precision power 100, lines per inch 270, and # of passes 1; depending on the type of cutting board you are using these settings may change, over time I have found that these settings work best with the bamboo cutting boards. Save this setting as “bamboo cutting boards” or some other name that you would like. Only a few steps left! Now we need to set the material thickness, select the box in the far left corner that says “unknown” (shown in red). 

Next click “use uncertified material”, you can now enter in your material thickness, my cutting board is about .25″,

(this is when digital calipers come in handy, I strongly recommend that every Glowforge owner buys a pair), once you set the thickness hit submit.

You are now ready to print! 

Happy engraving! 

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