Laser Cut Drag Chain

I’m still getting familiar with the laser cutter, so I decided to do something simple for my latest project. I chose to try making the Laser Cut Drag Chain by msraynsford it seemed like an interesting exercise in creating mechanical structures using only laser cut pieces. The process seemed fairly straightforward so I just jumped right in and set the entire path to be cut.

I like to make my cut paths red because lasers!

I had the laser set to as fast as I thought I could get away with, to minimize kurf, charring, and cut time.

still haven't figured out how the laser chooses the path cutting order....

So far so good, I go to pull the pieces out… but some were not cut all the way through. It takes a bit of force to break them off.

those little tiny pieces were annoying to try and dislodge

Once I break away a couple pieces I try to fit them together, but uncover a new problem. The gaps cut into the pieces are too small to fit around the thickness of the material I selected. When I attempt to force them together, they break.

*snap* "...oh, oops"

Time for some revision! Some size adjustments, a bit more power, and away we go! This time I make sure that the gaps in the pieces are exactly the same width as the material being cut.

More fire this time. Exciting!

The laser cuts all the way through with no problems. I’m left with a set of loose pieces that I can scoop out of the laser bed.

ready for assembly

They fit together perfectly this time!

there we go, much less broken

Now I just have to fit them all together and I have a neat little drag chain from scrap wood.


This is a really simple and very satisfying project to do, a great beginners project that teaches you how to create parts on a laser cutter that can fit and work together. Even though it seemed idiot-proof at first glance, I still managed to make mistakes and learn from them along the way.

and now I have a mechanical chain thing I can show my friends, so that's cool too

Were I to make one last change, I would cut the pieces with just slightly smaller gaps to get more of a friction fit, because sometimes the pieces slip free of each other. Overall, I consider this project to be a successful learning experience!

Post by Matthew Nystrom, Intern at the Idea Fab Labs