Making a Template

Hello all.

I use corrugated cardboard from time to time to make a template. The shapes of the materials like coasters are usually round or square.

I bought these Leather Key Ring jobs from Amazon to create some samples for this wedding venue I might be hooking up with in the future hopefully. I can’t use my Fiber on them so I have to use the CO2.

Key Chains

I don’t have a CAD program or anything like that to create the image with. How do you all go about cutting out templates from odd shape items?


Just what you need:

I use a scanner, but the general idea is to import a picture into LightBurn and make sure it has the proper scaling.


The scanning/image tracing approach is solid.

Having said that and looking at the keychain this doesn’t look like a particularly complex shape. Essentially a rectangle or two and a circle. This wouldn’t be particularly difficult to create in LightBurn using the Boolean tools.


Thanks… I’ll bring one to the plant in the am. and xerox that puppy!

Agreed Berain…


Do you create cut-outs in the corrugated cardboard for holding the work in the correct place? I would use a similar approach but cut the template from 3mm MDF, since it’s sturdier and easier to reuse.

I would cut the template shapes from one piece and attach it to a second plain backing piece underneath. So the leather would nestle down into the recess, locating against the bottom edge (in green). It’s only the green area that needs to be close to being an outline of the parts - the rest of the cutout can be a very loose fit.

It is sometime useful to make the jig self-locatable, for example, so it can be pushed hard into a corner of the machine, then you can cut the jig in the same position the job would run, and it becomes very easy to setup again for absolute position engraving.


Hi there Nic

I don’t do a lot of production work unfortunately. Just no demand in the small town where I’m at. If I did, I would go your route. I have plenty of 24x24 corrugated cardboard to use so I just place it in the bed, cut the positions or position, and get the job done.

I tried your way once with round coasters, but I could never figure out how to get the new job to start right where the last one ran. It’s all good.

For something like that, I’d break out the digital calipers, measure a couple of parts and create appropriate spaces to drop the keychain into. In the end, you don’t have to have an exact shape of the piece, you just need a space that you can repeatedly put the piece into for placement. A big rectangle for the body of the keychain, a small square for the tab and a circle for the keyring, weld them together, cut a test piece to ensure it fits good and go from there.

I think this will work fine once I weld it.

KeyRing.lbrn2 (16.5 KB)

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Looks good, but just cutting plain rectangles out of your cardboard would still work would it not?

Put a couple reliefs to get your fingers in and the part out…

In this one you can grab it in a couple of ways…

This also works well for tile with only two cutouts.

Good luck – have fun



Hello all.

Got my sample done on the CO2. I just used the hole in the keyring to pull out the sample with. Got my settings saved. Now just to produce a couple up for samples to present to the hopefully new customer. So far I have a knife and serving kit marked, a slate coaster, and in a bit the leather keychain. Next up some pens.

My thinking is that they can give these items to the newlyweds as part of their booking the venue for their wedding. I’m thinking they can also include the bride / groom’s name, and date on the knife kit.

I use the trace function quite often, with usually some minor adjustments, it has worked very well in most of my projects.

Shaper Trace is a cool tool for this purpose, but I find it barely better than the scanning method. I had a client that needed custom shapes of instrumentation panels for planes - he wanted to try it, I’m glad to have it as an option.

It works but needs a contrasting silhouette to function well. I’m too picky and end up using the captured ’trace’ and then working shapes to be mathematically ideal … basically wasting time due to perfectionism that loses money.

Hi, I did all my practice on scrap cardboard. I found the soft squishy cardboard from China catches fire pretty easy, but good hard cardboard from the US and perhaps other places engraves and cuts just fine.

Now I make a lot of test pieces with cardboard and I’ve also used cereal boxes for test cuts and made hundreds of engravings onto cereal boxes for my neighbors … they love the engraved art.



Hi, I’m curious about your engravings on cereal boxes. I use cardboard for test pieces, but how is it of any quality that I would want to give it away? TIA!

Hi, I open the box at the side seam, cut down the other side to make two pieces, bend the flanges flat and laser etch/engrave on the inside … it looks good like that. My neighbors then get frames and cut out to fit the frame.

Just your black test burn on plain brown cardboard? I’d love to see a picture!

This is a cardboard front I designed and laser engraved and cut for a test fitting to build a reproduction IMSAI 8080 computer.

I’ve done the same for an Altair 8800 computer too and even created a nice oak wood cabinet for an Altair 8800c that will host a Z80 CPU, 88-2SIOJP and FDC+ boards. Then I did the same for a IMSAI-JAIR CBBS computer I built … which is my 1976 BBS and a test computer …

I made some paper and cereal box cutouts and engravings to make sure the front of the computer cabinets fit the boards.

The vintage computer club I’m involved with: