In recent years, the tumbling price points of technology have put the most cutting-edge devices and gadgets firmly within the budget of even casual home enthusiasts. Print technology is no exception, and these days advanced 3D printing systems and laser cutters are available at prices that would have been previously unimaginable even just a few years ago.

Whether you already own a laser cutter or you’re completely new to the art and want to try out some simple design projects, here are a few easier ideas you could use for inspiration to hone your skills. Note, in all the cases below, you should first ensure you are completely au fait with your laser cutting machine, have comprehensively read the safety manuals, and, ideally, have had at least some basic training using your equipment.

Use a laser cutter to create a cut-out map

One of the joys of using a laser cutter is the number of downloadable patterns and designs you can use very easily and effectively without the need for previous design skills. Try searching online for template files you can download and send directly to your laser cutting machine for the most successful results.

As a general rule, maps tend to work best as decorative ornaments around the home, so using wood as your base often gives the most pleasing results. If your skills are up to it, you could also try engraving place names onto the finished map once you’re done.

Make a welcoming plaque or sign for outside your home

Putting a sign or plaque outside your home can lend a whole other level of personalization to your house – plus is a super attractive feature for visitors. As these items will be outside and open to exposure from the elements, you’ll want to pick a hard-wearing base material – particularly if you live in especially hot or cool climes.

While wood will mostly favor okay, you’ll probably want to use something a little more durable – perhaps slate or stone – that is less susceptible to wind, rain, snow and sun. Again, check online for downloadable templates or, if you’re feeling confident, try designing your own.

Design a personalized bookmark with a message

The versatility of laser cutters makes them suitable for working with all types of material – soft to hard – including leather. Indeed, due to its softness and pliability, leather is one of the easier objects to work with and cut into a distinct shape.

Making bookmarks can be a great personalization project as they tend to be relatively simple in shape, so shouldn’t pose any particular problems, regardless of your skill level. However, should you feel the idea of designing your own shape is a little daunting, you’ll find countless resources online where you can download pre-made templates that you can send directly to your machine with no extra input required – some even featuring text and other designs to further give that feeling of customization.

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect when it comes to operating a laser cutter but working with existing designs will give you invaluable experience as you slowly hone your skills.