diy laser cutter engraver

When it comes to buying a laser cutter, the best DIY laser cutters can offer similar power and precision as prebuilt machines for a fraction of the cost.

Plus, you’ll get that sense of satisfaction that comes from building your own tools!

For most users, I’d recommend the xTool D1 Pro for the best balance between performance, price, and ease of use.

It comes with automatic focus and other advanced features for a smoother cutting experience than other DIY options on the market.

If budget is your number one concern, I’d recommend the MathRose A5 is still a very capable option for hobbyists looking to get started for under $300.

In this guide, I’ll share my top recommendations from the DIY laser cutters and engravers I’ve tested based on my hands-on experience. We’ll cover their strengths and limitations – from work area to wattage – so you can make a confident choice.

VALUE PICK

Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro

One of the best 5W laser kits
Good safety features and quick 30-45min build time
Large 400x400mm work area

Available at:

PREMIUM PICK

xTool D1 Pro

The best DIY diode laser around – and best under $700
High-quality steel frame & parts
10W power (with 5W and 20W options) and 400mm/s speed

Available at:

Top Picks

Best DIY Laser Cutters & Engravers – Full Round-Up

The Best DIY Laser Cutters to Buy 

Now, let’s review the best DIY CNC laser cutter kits that you can buy online and then assemble and customize at home. 

MathRose A5 Laser Engraver – Budget DIY Laser Cutter

MathRose A5 laser cutter

Pros

Budget and user-friendly.

Easy to assemble, repair, replace, and update.

The life span is 10,000 hours.

Auto-focusing laser.

Large working area.

Cons

Slow cutting.

Starting with the most affordable option, the MathRose A5 is a budget and user-friendly DIY laser engraver kit that’s a good choice for beginners looking to get into building CNC machines. 

One of the main reasons is due to the modular design which makes it very easy to assemble, repair, replace and update the various parts. In fact, you can build this machine in just 10 to 20 minutes. 

Installation of MathRose A5
MathRose A5 Installation. Source: YouTube

The MathRose uses a powerful A5 laser module to provide accurate engraving of a variety of materials, from wood and leather to glass and plastics. The laser has a life span of 10,000 hours, so it’s very long-lasting even if you’re using it continuously on demanding projects. 

It’s also an auto-focusing laser, so there’s no need to manually focus and risk making it less precise. The working area is large, measuring 410x400mm, and there are precise line scales on the X and Y axes so you can easily measure your workpieces. 

Test sample using MathRose A5 Laser Engraver
Source: YouTube

This DIY laser cutting machine has a 4-star rating on Amazon, which is decent despite not being the highest. Many users have praised the good packaging and clear instructions that make it easy to assemble the machine, even if you’re inexperienced.

AttributeMathRose A5 Laser Engraver
Laser Power20W
Work Area410 x 400 mm
Budget DIY Laser Cutter
MathRose A5 Laser Engraving/Cutting Machine CNC

For those who are new to building CNC machines, the MathRose A5 is a cost-effective and simple-to-use DIY laser engraving kit.

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Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro — Great Value for Money 

ortur laser master 2 pro diy laser engraver kit
During a test engraving in our review of the Ortur DIY laser.

Pros

Well suited for beginners.

Durable, safe, versatile, and high-quality.

Easy and quick to assemble.

The firmware is precise and easy to use.

Cons

The settings can be sensitive.

If you’re looking for an affordable but durable, safe, versatile, and high-quality DIY laser engraver, the Ortur Master Laser 2 is a great choice. 

We were impressed with how quick and easy it was to assemble, and you’ll likely be able to get it going in under an hour. You just need to assemble the 4 sides, attach the front panel, laser head and plug in the electronics, and you’ll be ready to cut and engrave.

Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro Assembly
Source: YouTube

This machine is particularly well suited to beginners as the laser head cover keeps the bright laser away from your eyes. You should still wear the glasses that come with this laser cutter kit, but the triple safety protection system makes it a great beginner laser kit.

Read our full review: Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro review

These include active position protection where the machine shuts down if it gets bumped, a laser beam safety guard where the laser turns off if the USB connection fails, and an exposure duration detection limitation that stops the laser beam if there’s no movement on the stepper motors. 

This DIY laser engraver kit uses advanced 32bits Ortur firmware which is extremely precise and easy to use. It also provides a power range of S0 to S1000; much larger than the S0 to S255 range of 8-bit desktop engravers. 

The high power and accuracy of this machine make it suitable for a wide range of different projects, from acrylic engraving and leather cutting to intricate paper cutting. You can also use it to engrave hard metals like stainless steel, as well as a wide range of other materials like MDF, plywood, and silicone.

We used it to engrave and cut softer woods, so we can’t personally vouch for its metal engraving prowess, but as a wood laser engraver and cutter, we were very impressed once we found our optimum settings with Lightburn.

laser engraved designs ortur kit
Two test engravings we did when first setting up the machines to find the ideal laser settings.

This DIY cutter is easy to assemble and has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, which indicates some very happy customers. Ortur also provides a very helpful presale and postsale service, as you can get presale consultations and technical support if you encounter any issues with putting the engraver together. Overall, we highly recommend it as a cheap laser engraver kit.

AttributeOrtur Laser Master 2 Pro
Laser Power10W & 5W
Work Area400 x 400 mm
Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro Laser Engraving & Cutting Machine

The Ortur Laser Master 2 is an excellent option if you're seeking for an economical but dependable, secure, adaptable, and high-quality DIY laser engraver.

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xTool D1 Pro 10W – Best DIY Laser Under $1000

xTool D1 Pro DIY 10W laser

Pros

Best Diode laser on the market.

The frame and parts are steel and high-quality.

Quick to assemble.

Great work area.

Cons

No air assist included, will cost extra.

The xTool D1 10W is the best diode laser in our opinion, and the best DIY laser engraver under $1000. If you pick it up for around $700-800 it currently sells on the xTool store for, you can even add the RA2 rotary attachment and have a 4-axis kit for engraving glasses and beakers for just under $1000!

You can save a few hundred dollars and get a standard xTool D1 or an Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro – both are great DIY lasers under $500 – but we advise spending a couple hundred dollars more and opting for the xTool D1 Pro, it’s a big upgrade.

xTool D1 Pro 10W Assembly
Source: YouTube

The frame and parts are steel and high-quality, with protected belts and steel rods and wheels to ensure smooth movement and accurate precision. It only takes around 30-45 minutes to assemble, too, so you can get engraving quickly after you get it.

The xTool D1 10W uses dual 5W lasers to create the end result of 10W power, using the same tech as the Ortur LM3 and Snapmaker’s 10W laser add-on.

But if you don’t need 10W power, you can buy a 5W version for $200 less and stick to mostly engraving, or the upgraded 20W version for single-pass 0.6mm+ basswood or acrylic sheet cutting.

We personally went for the 20W version even though it costs a few hundred dollars, but the extra power and speed were worth it for me. For example, here’s some of the projects we cut during our review:

Celtic knot bookmark cut out
Celtic knot bookmark cut out
Precise engraving of a bearded dragon on a mandala for a coaster project.
Precise engraving of a bearded dragon on a mandala for a coaster project.
Cutting 0.5 inch thick wood to create this push block with xTool D1 Pro
Cutting 0.5 inch thick wood to create this push block.

Other variations available include:

ModelWhere to buy
xTool D1 5WAvailable at xTool store here
xTool D1 20WAvailable at xTool store here
xTool D1 Pro alternatives and where to buy them

Read more: our full review of the xTool D1 Pro 20W

The work area is great for a DIY laser cutter — slightly larger than the Ortur, and much larger than many cheaper lasers. You can even buy an extension kit on xTool’s store that takes your work area up to an incredible 936 x 432 mm for enormous engravings.

It’s accurate (0.01mm precision, 0.08 x 0.06 mm spot size), reliable with the sturdy frame and steel wheels and rods and protected belts, and safe. The XCS software is really user-friendly and intuitive, but you can also use it with LightBurn instead, or via our smartphone with the Laserbox app.

In our opinion, this is a top buy for a DIY laser under $1,000.

AttributexTool D1 Pro 10W
Laser Power10W (5W and 20W options also available)
Work Area432 x 406 mm
Best diode pick
xTool D1 Pro 10W: Higher Accuracy Diode DIY Laser Engraving & Cutting
3.5
$629.99

And if you need even more power, go for the 20W version (we did!)

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BobsCNC Evo 4 – Add Customizable Laser Kits 

  • Price: $1,230 + $300-$700 for laser kit add-on — Available on Amazon here
  • Working area: 610 x 600 mm
  • Assembly Time: 1 hour
  • Power: 2.8W, 4.2W, and 7W
BobsCNC Evo 4

Pros

The kit is customizable based on your requirements and budget.

Three wattage levels to choose from.

Large cutting area.

Cons

No option to buy laser modules directly from BobsCNC (Compatible with other laser modules though)

BobsCNC is a well-known and popular CNC brand among hobbyists. It’s perhaps best known for its Evolution series of machines, distinguished by their laser-cut wooden frames and somewhat unconventional designs, with the Evo 4 being the best in the series.

The Evo 4 is designed as a CNC router and unlike the other machines on our list, there isn’t the option to purchase a laser module directly from BobsCNC. However, other companies have made compatible laser modules, such as J Tech Photonics

J Tech Photonics offers well-made, all-in-one laser and mounting kits for the Evo 4 and Evo 3. The best thing is that you can customize the kit based on your requirements and budget.

BobsCNC Evo 4 Assembly
Source: YouTube

There are three wattage levels to choose from — 2.8W, 4.2W, and 7W — with the higher wattage levels meaning more expense. You can also choose from three different routers: Dewalt D660, Dewalt DWP611, and Makita.

There’s the option to add a magnetic shroud for improved safety, as well as a high-resolution lens for more precise engraving. The kits range in price from $339.97 to $734.96 depending on the specs you want.

Sample project using BobsCNC Evo 4
Source: YouTube

In terms of the Evo 4 itself, the main benefits are the large 24” x 24” cutting area and very well-designed structure that provides optimum stability. So if you’re looking for a robust machine that can act as both a router and engraver, it’s a great option.

As this combination of CNC router and DIY laser cutter module is provided by two different manufacturers, this solution can be more challenging for beginners and is best suited to more experienced hobbyists.

AttributeBobsCNC Evo 4
Laser Power2.8W, 4.2W, and 7W
Work Area610 x 610 mm
BobsCNC Quantum CNC Router Kit
$1,280.00

The Evolution series of machines, which stand out for their laser-cut wooden frames and somewhat unusual designs, with the Evo 4 being the best in the line, are possibly the most well-known products from BobsCNC.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
05/29/2023 03:48 am GMT

Snapmaker 2.0 – 3 in 1 DIY Laser Cutter, CNC Router & 3D Printer 

Pros

Laser cutter, 3D printer, and CNC router at the same time.

Precise and accurate.

The assembly is fun and easy.

Available in three different sixes.

Cons

Can be very loud.

The Snapmaker 2.0 is one of the most unique and versatile DIY laser cutters we’ve come across. This is because it’s a laser cutter, a 3D printer, and a CNC router all at the same time.

When we tested the Snapmaker 2.0 A350 (the largest version), we were very impressed with both the engraving precision, accuracy and image contrast quality, as well as with the power of the laser cutter.

Snapmaker 2.0 Assembly
Source: YouTube

We also used the 4-axis rotary module add-on, which lets you turn material blocks 360-degrees for engraving on rounded surfaces. We engraved our logo and a lion design on this cylinder gift box to test it out:

Snapmaker 2.0 DIY laser engraver kit

Read our full review: we tested the Snapmaker 2.0 CNC and laser toolheads

There’s also the fantastic camera capture feature which automatically takes and uploads a picture of the workpiece and uploads it to the Snapmaker Luban software as a canvas. You can then easily engrave the image shown in the software with just one click.

One aspect of this machine that will particularly attract DIY enthusiasts is its modular design. All the ports are standardized, meaning you can customize the machine as much as you like. We didn’t get to try it, but you can also buy a more powerful 10W high-power laser toolhead, to cut through cutter, tougher materials, and engrave much faster.

We were still able to cut through around 1.5mm-thick wood with the standard laser toolhead however, creating this wooden gift box shown below:

This is an extremely popular DIY CNC laser engraver, with a 4.5 star rating on Amazon from over 100 reviews. Don’t be put off if you’ve never worked with a 3 in 1 machine before – the assembly process takes only an hour and it’s a wonderful experience; you can feel the hours and hours of preparation the Snapmaker team have put into every element. The boxes and screws and all labeled, the modular screwdriver you screw parts in with is a fantastic design (you’ll understand when you use it!) and all the tools and parts feel high quality.

This DIY laser engraver kit is available in three different sizes – 160x160x145mm, 230x250x235mm, and 320x350x330 – so you can save some cash if you only need a small working area. 

AttributeSnapmaker 2.0
Laser Power1.6W
Work Area160 x 160 mm, 230 x 250 mm, or 320 x 350 mm
Top 3 in 1 Pick
Snapmaker 2.0 Modular 3 in 1 3D Printer A350T/A250T
$1199 ($600 off!)

Want to 3D print, CNC cut, and laser cut and engrave all in 1? Snapmaker machines are the best 3-in-1 machines around.

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How to Build Your Own Homemade Laser Cutter or Engraver

As the name suggests, a DIY laser cutter is a CNC machine that you build yourself, rather than buying a preassembled, ready-to-use machine. DIY laser cutters can be unassembled kits that you order online and then put together yourself, or they can be built completely from scratch by sourcing each individual part separately.

DIY laser cutter

DIY laser kits you can buy

For DIY laser engraver kits, there’s a variety available online that contain all the parts you need — you just need to assemble the machine for yourself. The main reason that people go with these DIY cutters is that they’re generally cheaper than buying a desktop laser cutter that’s ready to go, as it obviously saves the manufacturers time and the parts can be transported more compactly.

Completely homemade laser cutters and engravers

On the other hand, there are DIY laser cutters that serious CNC hobbyists build completely from scratch by buying each part from different places and then putting them all together. This is a pretty complex task and requires a lot of knowledge of how laser cutters work — and a lot of experience using them.

With this type of DIY cutter, it’s often as much a passion project as it is a way of saving money. Not only do lots of hobbyists enjoy the challenge of building a machine from scratch, but it also means you choose your part quality.

These cutters are obviously a lot more customizable, which is another reason why DIY machines are so popular in the CNC community. Want to make an enormous laser cutter? As long as you’ve got the skills and you can afford the parts, you’re all set!

DIY laser engraver

There are many examples of built-from-scratch laser cutters available on the web. For example, a hobbyist under the username MichielD99 has posted on Instructables a detailed guide of how they created a DIY CO2 laser cutter as a cheap alternative to preassembled machines, while there’s a vast collection of homemade DIY cutters showcased on OpenBuilds

Software 

Whether you’re doing DIY metal engraving or DIY wood engraving, you need to use a laser software package to control your DIY laser cutter. Luckily, there are several good open source options you can use for free, the most popular being LaserGRBL. This is widely used for both DIY laser engraver kits and by people assembling machines completely from scratch.

Alternatively, LightBurn and Mach3 are popular paid software that most DIY laser etching machines are compatible with. Some DIY laser engraver kits also come with offline controllers that enable you to use them without having to connect to a computer

Other laser cutter buying guides:

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Alan Lewis

Alan is an expert CNC writer who has provides product reviews, guides, and comparisons for CNCSourced.

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