My DIY laser build and X-Carve upgrade

I decided a month or so ago that I would like to add laser capabilities to my X-Carve, to add another creative tool to my tool box. I considered various turn-key products, but in the end I wanted to create my own solution that fit my custom dust-shoe rails and integrated nicely into the control panel I had already built in my custom table/enclosure. Besides, why buy when you can build it yourself!

It took a lot of work, but I was able to make a laser that had the features I wanted:

  • Safety controls and warning lamps
  • Quick and easy to add and remove laser when converting between router and laser operations
  • Fume extraction shoe with laser safety window for focusing, alignment, and viewing job progress
  • Visible display of the laser power on/off state, and power level
  • Switch to quickly turn laser on in flea-power mode to allow focusing and home alignment
  • Bonus if it looked attractive
  • Lower cost than commercial solutions

So I thought I’d share a few pics from my journey to maybe inspire others that might feel like taking this route.

Removing my old (much simpler) control panel, which was still an unlabeled cheapo proof that I never remade.

Cutting and engraving the new control panel (on XC of course). This was made from solid birch, to match the wood used on the rest of my XC table and drawers.

Running the new lines in the drag chains. Visible in this pic are vestiges of brainstorming different mounting and heat sinking solutions, many of which never made it into the final design.

Addition of laser power supply and control lines under table.

Prototyping and testing the power level interface and readout circuit.

Getting closer to final mechanical design. Visible in this pic is the Nichia NDB7875 laser module, heat sink, (off the shelf) “Black Buck” constant current power supply, cooling fan, connectors, temperature sensing thermistor, power display board, plus the extruded case and mounting brackets that I machined for this application. The string of diodes and power resistor in the foreground is a test load I used for setting the laser current.

Looking down the barrel of the lens assembly, with some of the components inside the case still visible.

All assembled. And ready for a lab bench first test.

Success! Static test at 10% power. The flood of blue everywhere is the surprising amount of light splashing off the wood test piece.

Building the connector box that will sit on the gantry and connect to the new lines in the drag chain. The trimpot is for setting the laser power in “Align” mode.

Test mounting laser on side of existing DeWalt spindle bracket.

Starting work on the laser filter/fume shoe.

Final design. Test cutting at 40% power.

Close ups. Fume shoe mounts to the rails I added for my (router) dust collection shoe.

Final upgraded control panel. “Head” switch enables router or laser. But laser also requires key switch for safety. “Align” switch activates laser at very low power (without need for sending any commands via computer) for focusing and alignment. Other buttons are standard X-Controller buttons brought up to the control panel (since mine is mounted out of sight in a compartment under the table).

I’m happy with the final form and functionality. And VERY happy with the quality of the first test engraves (created with VCarve and sent with UGS).

Again it was a lot of work. And to be fair, I did have the luxury of a milling machine for the metal work, the X-Carve for the wood parts (of course), and a background in electronics for designing and building the laser interface (although it’s pretty simple, actually).

I haven’t done a formal tally of the cost, but running through everything in my mind, I believe the parts were less than $250 (not counting the OD6 safety glasses).

Now I’ve got to get off the computer and go laser engrave some more stuff!


Love the fact you put a key lock for laser safety. Full credit

1 Like

Fantastic build. Great craftsmanship! Thanks for sharing.