Rulers and Laser Cutter: Chairs

This week’s lesson on rulers is probably my favorite lesson thus far. I LOVE RULERS. I love drawing beautiful lines and curves with precision. I love knowing the measurements of things. They make me feel confident. My quality of life is enriched because of them.   I just love them…so much. These are my favorites, 2″ grid ruler and french curve:

I also love chairs, which is why I decided to make some miniatures with the laser cutter this week. It’s long been a fantasy of mine to wake up, put on my cardigan, make tea, and walk over to my in-house studio to make miniature furniture in my retirement. Getting to experience it this week proved to be as fun as I imagined.

I bought some scraps at Canal Plastics that were around 40″(l) x 1/8″(w) x 3″(h). With these parameters in mind, I started drawing in Illustrator. I’m pretty rusty so I reached out to resident Davíd Lockard for a review and some pointers. This was the first “pancake” prototype I made on Monday in opaque white acrylic. I bent the seat and legs with the acrylic bender, but the legs were pretty uneven so I didn’t bother gluing them on.

Luckily, Ben gave me a tip to make a jig for the legs when I spotted him in the shop today in preparation to make my actual prototype.

This is my Illustrator file. I decided to give myself two options for the legs (rounded vs. square) and cut another seat with etched style lines. Even though I referred to the laser cut instructions to change the stroke color (red – cut, blue – etch), it cut my etch lines. In retrospect, I should have put them in a separate layer and changed the print settings.

Cut like butter. I wish I could stare at lasers without glasses.


After cutting, I used the acrylic bender to add a natural bend to the seat front edge and back rest. This gives more dimension to the chair.


The challenging part is the legs. After Ben told me to make a jig, I went to the wood scraps to find a block with the right approx. height and width. I placed it under my pancake prototype to visualize the proportions (see photo 1) and used a ruler, the bandsaw + sander to make the jig. I set the measurements accordingly to the legs in my Illustrator file, and referred to the legs of my first prototype to account for bend tolerance. It worked pretty well, except I wish the jig was see-through or if I drew guidelines for where to place the legs when bending because one leg came out a little crooked.


The acrylic glue didn’t work very well for some reason. The bottle says it should adhere after 1~2 minutes, but that wasn’t the case. I ended up using clamps and I’m hoping for the best today. On the bright side, it can stand!

One thought on “Rulers and Laser Cutter: Chairs

  1. Nice work. Glad you got to live your retirement dream a little.

    Good work with the bender, as you know, it is not easy to make consistent bends. Like I told you the other day, if you put small divots in legs where you want to bend them, they would be a little more consistent.

    Using a jig is always a good idea, and I liked you idea about drawing layout lines on the jig.

    The glue may not have set up because it might not have been flat surface to flat surface. When you heat the acrylic it can warp it a bit.

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