Tailor’s Clapper: Laser-Cut Woodwork

Creating the rounded-rectangle shape of a tailor’s clapper in LightBurn, then cutting it out, doesn’t pose much of a challenge:

Ironing weight - cutting oak plank
Ironing weight – cutting oak plank

That was a prototype cut from an oak plank with some fairly obvious splits. It turned out OK, but ¾ inch oak is obviously right at the limit of my 60 W laser’s abilities:

Ironing weight - laser cut edges
Ironing weight – laser cut edges

The “production” clappers came from a nicer plank that was just barely long enough:

Ironing weight - laser cuts - top
Ironing weight – laser cuts – top

The cut, at 2 mm/s and 70% power, just barely penetrates the plank:

Ironing weight - laser cuts - bottom
Ironing weight – laser cuts – bottom

Unlike the top picture, I put the plank on the knife-edge supports, resulting in the small charred lines perpendicular to the cut.

The edges came out thoroughly charred:

Ironing weight - laser cuts - edges
Ironing weight – laser cuts – edges

Spread yellow wood glue smoothly on one piece, stick another to it, then align and clamp:

Ironing weight - clamping
Ironing weight – clamping

I offset the cut 1 mm outside the nominal shape to allow Mr Belt Sander to remove the char while reducing the block to size. Obviously, there is no real tolerance, other than that it must fit Mary’s hand, and they all came out nice and straight.

Some of the char seems embedded deep in the wood grain and leaves a dark mark despite removing the extra millimeter:

Ironing weight - seam ironing B
Ironing weight – seam ironing B

Contrary to what I feared, the characteristic wood-stove odor dissipated after a day or two: they’re entirely inoffensive. Which was fortunate, as the slightest odor would cause them to fail incoming inspection.

The longer weight on the far left came from a plank with a conspicuous knot on one end. The stress from supporting that branch while the tree grew apparently made the wood much denser, as the same 2 mm/s 70% cut setting barely made it halfway through the plank. I finished the job by cutting the outline with Tiny Bandsaw™, which didn’t proceed any faster than the laser and left a much less uniform path for Mr Belt Sander.

I’d definitely consider making any future tailor’s clappers by laminating three half-inch oak planks that would be much easier to cut, but my woodpile doesn’t have anything like that.

The wood remains unfinished, as part of its job is to absorb moisture from steam-ironed fabric (which is not happening in the photo). Applying stains / sealers / finishes would definitely improve the wood’s appearance, but wreck its performance. Around here, function always outweighs form.

6 thoughts on “Tailor’s Clapper: Laser-Cut Woodwork

  1. I see you subscribe to the “don’t go above 70% or you’ll shorten the life of the tube” philosophy. Me too. We just got a machine, and only after setting it up and having some of your blog posts go by did I realize it’s the same 60W OMTech. So far we like it!

    1. AFAICT, the power output doesn’t increase much above 75%, probably because the tube is really a 50 W tube overdriven to hit 60 W.

      Occasionally cutting stupid-thick wood is the most abusive thing I do to it, so I think the tube should survive longer than in a production shop.

      I think it can scan faster than the default 500 mm/s limit, but haven’t figured out how to create a meaningful test pattern to verify speeds & accelerations, because LightBurn tends to rearrange SVG vector layout sequences even with optimizations turned off. A recent update may have changed that, but other projects got in the way.

  2. Wondering what sort of iron is being used in the photos? It looks very much easier than a “big” iron for pressing quilt seams.

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