View Full Version : Household uses for laser?

Joe Pelonio
02-04-2012, 2:47 PM
I often get requests from family to cut or engrave something, but sometimes the laser comes in handy for fixing
things around the house. This morning, for example, I went out to see why the waterfall on my pond was not running.
Usually that means the filter needs cleaning. I pulled up the pump and found it running but the inlet nipple had broken
off from the pump, and leaves had stopped the flow through it. What was left was a jagged large whole in the thin
metal. My first thought was the laser. I came in and cut a donut of 1/4" acrylic, large enough to fit over the flat part
of the pump and with a hole for the water just smaller than the outlet nipple. A little epoxy and 10 minutes later it's
back together. I'll let the epoxy set another hour or so to help prevent any toxic fumes from killing the fish, then
connect up the filter and turn it back on. Saved buying a new pump at about $100.

Anyone else have stories about fixing things around the house and shop with the laser?

John Noell
02-04-2012, 4:08 PM
Well, the knob for the heater fan in my car broke. It's a simple little piece of round plastic and the dealer wants $40! Scan the old one, cut some pieces from scrap acrylic, glue 'em together and ooops, forgot to make the pointer. Get our marker pen and add a pointer. Perfect replacement. :)

Glen Monaghan
02-04-2012, 5:18 PM
I cut a new grating for my pond filter, it's the piece that the foam filters sit on. Made an acrylic spacer to replace a worn and broken one on my electric lawn mower's power mode selector. And I made a replacement actuator arm on a motorized gadget, which was trickier because it had a 3D shape and holes at right angles to each other, and required cutting, turning and fixturing on its side, registering and cutting second profile/holes. And made a few custom storage and display containers for wife's hobbies and jewelry.


Mark Sipes
02-04-2012, 5:32 PM
Made Custom messages and lasered them on Christmas sugar cookies.... Wife still has hers on display......

Bruce Boone
02-04-2012, 5:53 PM
With my welding laser, I've rewelded a broken light bulb filament right through the glass bulb!

Chuck Stone
02-04-2012, 6:02 PM
i have a box fan in the window (helps suck out superglue fumes) but no
speed/on/off dial. So I measured the piece and cut one out of acrylic.
Also made a couple of parts for the laser that holds the mirror assembly
onto the belt (ribbed plastic to mesh with the teeth) and assorted little
odds and ends.

Next stop, someone told me that wallyworld has BLANK valentines candies.

I smell some mischief coming on...

Mike Chance in Iowa
02-04-2012, 7:01 PM
I find the laser comes in real handy for household fixes, but it all depends upon what your "household" is. :p While raising the latest round of chicks, I used the laser to create some temporary plywood perches for them while they were under the heat lamps in the stock tank. To make it easier for the elderly dogs to eat, I made some painted MDF raised dog food bowl/stands. I made an "oven stick" out of plywood that I can pull the oven rack out or push it back in. I made a number of gaskets for the old tractors and other farm-related devices. I have used acrylic scraps to make measuring devices for the race motorcycle where a certain part needed to be at an exact angle and have X mm gap between the other part. I have made light switch & electrical covers to hide the non-standard size holes in the walls of our ancient farmhouse. I made a sort-of L-shaped tool out of wood so I can push the ash & pellets out from under the pellet pot in our pellet stove when it's cleaned. I have used it to cut fabric and leather when making repairs to clothing - sure scissors would have worked, but it wouldn't have been fun! I have also used to mark engine parts, but hard to explain how and why it needed to be done without seeing the parts - it involved painting the parts and marking the paint with lines rotated at specific degrees. Future plans will be to replace the scratched-up glass in the ancient french doors with plexi since I have a gob of scrap plexi. Oh, and another was to use some black rowmark Textures to fill a hole in the dash of a friend's classic Ranchero where a gauge used to be and someone had put a hokey patch over it. The Textures made it look like it was a stock part that could be removed to insert a gauge.

Michael Conley
02-04-2012, 7:47 PM
When I accepted my first programming job, I waited until Sunday evening to make a five hour drive to Indianapolis to begin work the following day. Just before I left home, one of my sons braved the sub-zero temperature to remove a few items from our minivan. Unfortunately, he bumped his head into one of the windows and because of the extremely cold temperature, he shattered the glass into a thousand slivers.

I made some quick measurements and cut three pieces of acrylic to insert into the door. I sealed it with some clear packing tape and drove to Indy. Without the laser, it would have been a long, cold, and noisy drive north. The fit and appearance was good enough that I did not get the window replaced for several weeks.

Bruce Volden
02-04-2012, 7:48 PM

Well mine washes clothes, fixes meals, changes oil, chainsaws the grove!

Oh, lasers, mine mostly just sits there-occasionally making some money:D


Joe Pelonio
02-04-2012, 10:59 PM
All great stories, but I'm thinking that Mike Chance would be lost without the laser!

Liesl Dexheimer
02-05-2012, 11:09 AM
We have an old Panasonic vacuum cleaner in our shop. The hose kept unscrewing as I moved it around so I cut a small rectangular acrylic piece and stuck it in the grove of where the hose attaches & taped it. It's been working great ever since! :)

Mike Chance in Iowa
02-05-2012, 2:08 PM
All great stories, but I'm thinking that Mike Chance would be lost without the laser!

LOL Well, yes I would be rather lost without it. While I'm not rich from it, it does pay the bills :) .... and it's a very handy tool to make things when you have obsolete parts or don't want to order the items somewhere online and wait weeks for it to arrive.

While there are other versatile "tools" out there, it always amazes me how many different things you can do with the laser and how each person who looks at it can think of an entirely different project to do.

Dee Gallo
02-05-2012, 4:44 PM
You guys are great! I love this thread...I too have used my laser for household fixes, like when I wanted to make my dishwasher have a black front instead of white...so I cut some black poly-vinyl with holes to expose the pad buttons. You'd never know it wasn't factory, haha. My husband bought a new wider sanding head for his round sander and it did not come with a matching plate, so I made one for him out of acrylic. Happy hubby! The laser is fast becoming my tool of choice for lots of small chores like gasket making & tool marking too. When we replaced all the doors in the house recently with new cherry doors but old vintage hardware, we could not find old lockset parts like doorknob washers at our local Walmart... so I made them, and voila!

Mark Ross
02-06-2012, 11:16 AM
Ask me why I asked my company, if I bought a cartridge ($260 bucks) for our 3D dimension printer, if I could use it from time to time using my own supplies...

It reminded me of this story, it isn't a plug for the company mentioned, but I thought it was a great idea for those who don't have access to the 3d technology and I would pass it on...


Joe Hillmann
02-06-2012, 11:47 AM
With my welding laser, I've rewelded a broken light bulb filament right through the glass bulb!

That machine will almost pay for itself in repaired light bulbs! :) Actually that does sound pretty cool, What do you normally use it for though?

Bruce Boone
02-06-2012, 12:49 PM
The main thing I use it for is for welding meteorite inlays for my titanium wedding rings. It's a very handy machine.

Joe Hillmann
02-06-2012, 12:57 PM
Oh yeah, run of the mill stuff, everyone on occasion needs to weld a couple meteorites together. :) Sounds like you have some pretty high end lasers, even for yags.

Chris DeGerolamo
02-06-2012, 1:02 PM
I had to replace the jack cover on my guitar a while ago after I dropped it...lasered one out of johnson plastics 2-tone and it worked great.

Bruce Boone
02-06-2012, 3:16 PM
What's strange about a welding laser is that you look through a microscope and actually hold the part in your hands! You press a foot pedal in order to fire it. You set the power and number of shots per second and things like that. There's crosshairs, so you know exactly where it will fire. It has an argon shield for welding stuff like titanium. I've seen someone at a jewelry show weld the aluminum foil that coats a stick of gum together!

Joe Hillmann
02-06-2012, 3:34 PM
Bruce. I have always seen them for sale on refurbishing websites and assumed that they were like little robotic welders so the only people that would have a use for them would be people who make thousands of one part so they could program it like a CNC

Bruce Dorworth
02-06-2012, 4:12 PM
Ok, this has become my favorite thread. I always read it first when I log on to the forum.....

A while back I was working on the valve to my boat livewell(it was leaking). I noticed the rubber O ring was missing. It was late so I took a piece of my thin kids foam with adhesive and cut out a new gasket.

Then another time my wife brought me this little desk clock and asked me how to set the time on it. Well, I noticed the little wheel that is used to adjust it was missing. After taking a few measurements, Laser Man sprang into action and cut a new acrylic wheel. A little super glue and she was back in business.


andrew zen
02-06-2012, 5:09 PM
Unrelated to your post.

I make desktop water fountains. Laser used for so much of the components. Connecting to the pump: acrylic tube, rubber o-rings, vinyl tubing, laser acrylic couplers and washers (cut on your laser), and acrylic cement, are your friends.

Not your friends??? - - - Time, knowing water is THE universal solvent, Chinese pumps, metric vs English measurements, and Chinese pumps.

Did I mention that if it rotates or contains electrical wiring or contains a mechanical stress and made in china - it will fail, hopefully out of warranty. At least out of the warranty period you promise. Keep extra pumps on hand and multiply Chinese component cost by 175% for break even cost, unless you sell wholesale. In which case have a good email filter for support.

Dan Hintz
02-06-2012, 7:20 PM
Bruce, interested in hearing more about these hand-held laser welders... do you have any examples of the machines? Sounds like a toy I may be able to make use of :D

Bruce Boone
02-06-2012, 8:13 PM
Here's a link to the one I have: http://www.stuller.com/products/basic-laser-welder/2645916/?groupId=110657 The hood opens to put fixtures and supplies in, and your arms go through the side holes. It senses when your arms are in the holes and won't fire the laser without them blocking any (invisible) beam coming out. It has a fixed tube that will flow argon to the focal spot when the pedal is pressed. It is a pulsed YAG laser with waveform shaping. On some metals you want to preheat the metal a bit before melting it for the actual weld then cooling it down slowly. The waveform shaping can allow that kind of stuff. You also have control over the beam width. It's similar to pulling the part out of focus; you can have a wide spot with low heat to smooth over previous welds or a highly concentrated spot that will blast right through a nickel! Just aim the part in the crosshairs and shoot. Boom. A single pulse, right through a nickel. It takes a little coordination to work under 40 magnification and to feed some filler wire with one hand and hold the part with the other. You pulse the beam to fire anywhere from once per pedal stroke to something like 50 pulses per second. I rarely go more than around 8pps. Like a sewing machine, it's all about control. Once you get used to it, it's very awesome to use. Like anything from Rofin, it's not cheap at around 40K, but it has definitely served me well. It can also fill spots in a ring that might otherwise have to be remade from scratch due to a slip of a cutting burr or some such scenario.

Joe Hillmann
02-07-2012, 9:42 AM

I was going to ask earlier but didn't know if anyone else was interested, Do you have any videos of that thing in action?

Bruce Boone
02-07-2012, 10:38 AM
Here's one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25pDxYrMFA0 I'm sure there are more out there. This one shows a gold ring being repaired. He's filling dents, adding metal to prongs, and other assorted fixes. He has the power turned way down and is doing some finesse moves.

Dan Hintz
02-07-2012, 11:52 AM
"Repair" nuthin', that's like a hand-held 3D printer! Daddy want :) I can imagine someone (with a bit of artistic talent, mind you) sitting down with a blank rings base and over the period of a few hours having a completely unique ring (and no wax casting necessary).

Bruce Boone
02-07-2012, 12:05 PM
Yes, to see some of the winners of the design contests in the laser welded catagory is nothing short of spectacular. Here's some of what's possible: http://www.laserstar.net/jewelry/contest.cfm

One household use I did was repair my and a few others titanium frame glasses. I wasn't sure how well it would work since you really don't know for sure what's in the alloys they use, but it worked great!

Marc Myer
02-07-2012, 12:38 PM
I've been away for a while; what a great way to get recquainted!

I've made some cool drawer pulls from clear acrylic.
Little parts for my radio controlled car and airplane--someday I will learn to fly those things
Bezel for a car radio
Little interior bits for my Volkswagen (many of you have experience with that!)
Splash guard for a bathtub spout
Protective acrylic for cabinet doors to keep the bird from destroying when she tries to open them.


Mark Sipes
02-07-2012, 1:11 PM
I see by your post to "FYI Epilog Laser Tube" you found a new use for the laser ...... door stop. LOL Hope the laser is up soon.

Marc Myer
02-07-2012, 3:27 PM
Perfect! I'll do the install today!

Belinda Williamson
02-07-2012, 4:23 PM
I am completely and totally embarassed to say that I have never used my laser to make anything for my house. I could sell a ton of dysfunctional valentines though! When I leave the office I try to put all work out of my mind, and that includes the laser. Oh, wait, I have thought of doing something for home. I just finished cutting 125 sheets of foam for toolboxes and I thought it would be neat to do that for my home toolbox.

Frank Corker
02-07-2012, 4:34 PM
Wow there's using that imagination Belinda .....some foam for your home toolbox ...wow...

Belinda Williamson
02-07-2012, 4:48 PM
Wow there's using that imagination Belinda .....some foam for your home toolbox ...wow...

What can I say, Frank? My imagination is virtually nonexistent, and I'm not allowed to use mind expanding drugs. Does it help that I was also thinking of cutting foam for my jewlery making tools? The foam has a cutout for each tool that follows the outline of the tool. . . it's fancier than it sounds.

Mike Chance in Iowa
02-07-2012, 6:52 PM
I am completely and totally embarassed to say that I have never used my laser to make anything for my house.

Oh Brilliant Belinda, but you have made some fantastic items for other people's homes! I remember you posting a really nice cork board you engraved with a floral graphic and then of course your cutting board that had the Frogmore Stew recipe on it. (I still need to try make that one of these days! It sounded so good and looked fairly simple to make!) :)

Rodne Gold
02-08-2012, 1:37 AM
Over the years I have had lasers, I have done a lot of stuff for my household , hifi and cars
Mirror acrylic cladding for my fridge
woodgrain formica to clad old rustic sidetables
replacement of various sandblasted window panes
cover for my pebble bed gas fire installed in a coffee table
choc moulds and other bits for my daughters school projects
lots of acrylic jewellery for my wife and daughter
instructions and sensor locations for my alarm system
configurable camera mounts for my surveliance system
various panels or fixes for countertops to cover holes
labels for many switches
keyboard and keytags for household keys
kitchen and bathroom items like soap dishes , cutlery rests , toilet and kitchen roller towel holders
baize and felt pads for ornaments and the like
custom message welcome mats
acrylic cutting boards
unbreakable shower mirrors

for my cars
badges and decals
wheelhub inserts
complete dash claddings in woodgrain and carbon fibre
new dial faces
various brackets and wire separators

for my hifi
vibration isolation tables for my valve amps and turntable
boxes and fascias for DIY hifi projects
diffraction rings for tweeters (foam and baize)
valve tube dampers (silicon rubber)
elevators to keep speaker cables off the floor
turntable platter mats (neoprene , rubber , felt , baize)
speaker tilting wedges
remote holders
isolation footers for other hifi components
interconnect and cable tidys
used the laser and my cnc machine for speaker enclosures

Been a sort of useful tool..

I do however have a project I have been stumped on for about a year or more , got an alcove , as seen in the pic (grey cupboard thing next to open plan kitchen) , that now has 2 centre opening doors to hide it (woodgrain) , I am looking to use the 12 colours of mirror acrylic , formica , veneer , engraving lams and acrylic sheeting to make a mural that sits on the doors that will compliment the african feel of the lounge it faces (other pic), I have yet to get inspiration on this one... it's a difficult one as the doors are about 9 ft high and about 20" wide each.

Dan Hintz
02-08-2012, 6:38 AM
I've always been a fan of art mirrors made of multiple triangular segments stacked on top of each other in various directions... not sure multiple colors would be my thing, though.

Rodne Gold
02-08-2012, 12:00 PM
My Wife likes overly ornate stuff - witness my master bathroom I'm not allowed to use - she wont go for abstract :)

Dan Hintz
02-08-2012, 12:28 PM
Yeah, that's a bit too much motion on the walls for my taste... I'd shoot for marble a bit more subdued in texture. That'd be okay on the floor, though.

Albert Nix
02-08-2012, 12:33 PM
AFB carb gasket. Needed the one gasket and did not want to buy a whole kit. Layed the pieces one scanner. Imported the image, cleaned it up a little and cut away.

Dave West
02-10-2012, 9:54 AM
I recently made a vibration isolated camera mount for my quad copter.

Frank Corker
02-10-2012, 10:27 AM
That looks cool Dave, have you posted any YouTube video of it's results yet?

Dave West
02-10-2012, 7:34 PM
The original footage from the camera is excellent except for a bit of vibration. YouTube plus me scaling before encoding ruined the vid.I'm now using the laser to cut a laser pen balancing rig to balance the motors. I don't make alot of money with my laser, but it's invaluable for my RC/Robotics hobbies.


Bruce Dorworth
02-10-2012, 11:31 PM
Dave, that looks really cool. I have been really interested in the quadcopter lately. Did you build yours from scratch, or a kit? Rather than hijack this thread could you possibly (PM) send me some info on it?


Dee Gallo
02-17-2012, 4:50 PM
I had a need to make something today, so here's my gloat: I got a kick butt cotton candy machine for my birthday (early) so I made a holder for the cones out of plexi... not the most challenging job, but very useful!

Dan Hintz
02-17-2012, 7:57 PM
If you get bored, Dee, feel free to make me a few bunches and send my way... :)

Frank Corker
02-18-2012, 9:49 AM
I'm a firm lover of candy floss two so feel free to send to me as well

Joe Pelonio
02-18-2012, 11:42 AM
I don't know anyone else that has their own cotton candy machine, enjoy!

(I can just see the crowds of kids hanging around your front yard this summer when you use it with the window open and they smell it!)

Mike Null
02-18-2012, 12:53 PM
You have a cotton candy machine?????

That really one-ups my pop corn popper.

Hilton Lister
02-18-2012, 3:11 PM
How about bachelor buttons? My expanding waistline puts some pressure on the top button of my jeans resulting in loss or breakage of said item. Solution, cut 2 x 15-20mm 3mm acrylic discs with two small slots in the middle.
Take a small plastic cable tie and thread from top through top disc down through fabric then bottom disc and back up through discs and fabric. Zip through other end of cable. Trim off excess and there you go. Pants securely fastened once more!

Bruce Boone
02-18-2012, 4:49 PM
I just saw a very cool item on Etsy. They were baby teethers in the shape of a remote control or a smart phone, made in maple and waxed with beeswax. Very well done and a great use for a laser.

Tim Walters
05-01-2012, 11:31 AM
Hi All,

The gasket for my blender died. I had some food-grade silicone around, so I measured the old gasket and cut a new one.
My wife bought a shelf "assembly" for the bathroom that attached to the wall at 4 places. Completely out-of-square.
I measured the location of the mounting points, programmed them into Corel, and cut small holes in a piece of poster-board to make myself a template for drilling. Went up without a hitch!


James Stokes
05-01-2012, 5:05 PM
I did not like the spray pattern in my shower head, so I cut a new diffuser screen to make a much finer spray pattern also I have cut out some cookie patterns for baking and other assorted things.

Bill Cunningham
05-01-2012, 9:45 PM
Used the laser to cut new gaskets for the outdrives on the boat..Then sold the boat.. How do you spell relief?
N.O.B.O.A.T :p

Mike Null
05-02-2012, 6:03 AM
The first and about the only household thing I made was actually very effective and useful. I cut two pieces of 1/16" engraver's plastic into a semi-circle and taped them back to back on the sliding screen door to the deck. I remounted the inside and outside handles over them and secured them to the screen with double sided tape. They worked very well for years--particularly with my little granddaughter.

Rodne Gold
05-02-2012, 10:18 AM
Just used mine to make an air intake "umbrella " for my 454 El Camino , I use a K&N triangular air cleaner that sticks out the bonnet. I had to destroy my carport for various reasons and now the car sits in the rain , unfortunately water gets into the engine bay thru the gap in the bonnet where the aircleaner sticks out , I just used 3mm Acrylic to make an oversized lid that sits atop the chrome air cleaner cover and overhangs the gap for when the car sits idle.
Getting water into the engine bay is not really an issue , what is , is the fact the water mars the finish on the highly polished aluminium intake manifold and valve covers by leaving whiteish marks which need to be polished out. Silly use for a laser as I could just put a garbage bag atop the bonnet (hood in Yanklish) and weight it down... :)

john banks
05-08-2012, 2:14 PM
Sign for the house. There was a bit of kitchen worktop there before to stop the birds getting in. Not sure I'll cover the screw heads, you can hardly see them from the ground.



Dee Gallo
05-08-2012, 9:03 PM
Gorgeous building, John. Do you really have horses?

Oh, nice sign too! hahaha

john banks
05-09-2012, 4:27 AM

Last owner provided livery and taught equestrian studies, but we have converted some of the stables into workshop and the classroom into an office for the laser business, and the other stables are presently used for storage, with the land rented out to a farmer. We are not horsey, wondered about continuing the livery but the insurance, the hassle and disruption didn't seem worth it. We were wondering about extending the stables to garages but need to be careful in design so anyone in future could still use for horses.

A lot of these 19th century stone farm steadings around a courtyard are converted into lots of small houses, we were looking out for years for one where we could get the whole thing but not completely derelict and not so big that the only thing would be to convert to lots of houses attached together.

We have a cow shed to convert to a lounge this year, may see if we can laser some small details into the wood here and there. Picture attached, one of my coworkers at Cobb Tuning in Texas thought it looked older than the United States ;)

Rodne Gold
05-09-2012, 5:37 AM
I love the look of your place , that "barn" or whatever it is that you posted pics of can be really nicely "renovated".
I think garage/workshop and living/office space is a far better use of the facilty , tons of potential buyers in the future and a good living environment for you in the present. Not sure how many "hoss" buyers there are out there , but it really limits your scope in how you want to convert the space if you have that in mind.

john banks
05-09-2012, 8:34 AM
Here is the new workshop and office. It is really just for us, but could support a few employees if we want to expand.

Office is complete with garden relaxers, workshop has the patio table. Money saving, and the weather doesn't merit leaving them out for most of the year!

Michael Doyle
05-09-2012, 10:27 AM
I shorten a lot of pants