FAQs & First Timers Guide

Below are some frequently asked questions that will help provide information for our services. If you have any other questions or queries, or just want more details, please feel free to get in touch – we are happy to help! There’s no such thing as a silly question, so always feel free to bounce ideas off us (unless your question is already answered here – please ensure that you have checked before emailing!).

First Timers

I want to make laser cut jewellery, where do I start?
We have a few different ways that customers can order laser cut items depending on your skill set and what you want to make.

If you’ve never, ever made jewellery before, start with something simple. Just try this: order a bag of Mixed Circles, some Ear Studs, and a mini tube of glue. You might even want to get a stamp made to make some simple branded packaging. This will get you familiar with all sorts of things like peeling (all laser cut pieces come with protective tape that will need to be peeled off), gluing, what different materials are like, etc. And you’ll have an awesome ear stud collection after you’ve done playing.

If you’re familiar with making jewellery, the next level would be to play around with different products from our Templates Range. You can browse a variety of designs by theme or size, and most template shapes have options to be cut with or without a hole/loop, to make hanging items like dangly earrings, etc. You can get creative and make literally hundreds of different end products by linking and combining different template shapes. Lots of our customers build big, beautiful brands simply by using our templates range. They maintain their own style and unique identity by picking unique material combinations, or gluing and linking shapes together in ways that think outside the box.

If you want to make custom designs, such as you have drawn something, or you’ve purchased rights of use for a design, or you hired a designer/illustrator, you can order products like custom Silhouette Charms or custom Etched Charms. Silhouette charms are laser cut shapes, like a shadow, and can be made from any black and white image (you can even pick up a sharpie, draw a squiggle and get it laser cut through our Custom Cuts Shop!). Etched charms are like silhouette charms, but they also include laser engraving (so you could cut out a silhouette of say, an apple, and also have details etched onto the apple silhouette, like a name or pattern). Etched charms can also be ordered with black and white image, such as a marker sketch of a face (literally anything black and white!). You do not need to be able to create vectors to order from the Custom Cuts Shop, as we’ll set-up your design for laser cutting and engraving.

If you want to make layered and multi-piece items, like the very-much-in-fashion acrylic brooches and earrings that are made with different pieces that are glued together like a small puzzle, you’ll want to look into creating vector files to order as a quote by file. This is peak complexity, and also the best option for getting super creative and bringing to life complex and unique ideas. If this is where you want to be, start by reading our guide on How the Laser Machine Works, then checkout our guides for Ordering by File (Vector File).

If setting up a vector file isn’t accessible to you, we make some recommendations for graphic designers on our website that offer this as a service here. Or, as we highly encourage – try it yourself! The internet is full of free resources to teach any beginner to make vector files. The head honcho at Vector Etch is completely self taught from online tutorials for vector work!

I have no idea about sizing, what size should I order?
The BEST way to get an idea for sizing is to print out what you want so that you can view the actual size in real life. It can be a low quality print on a basic printer – just print it out, roughly cut it out, and have a look. Seeing things in real life at actual size is super helpful. Even with years of experience we still can’t tell just by looking at a design if all of the details are the right size and will engrave well – we still print all of our own personal projects before laser cutting to proof them! When you print it out, you might find that your design is too detailed and needs to be larger, or that some parts are too fine and need to be thicker, or it might be just perfect! Either way, if you can be pleased with how your design is looking at this stage, you’re going to love how they are laser cut!
Will the details work out?
If your design has fine details, like thin lines, it’s a good idea to print it out at the size that it will actually be and see how it looks. It’s difficult to gauge how images on a screen will look when they’re engraved/laser cut and printing your design out on your home printer is by far the best test to get an idea of how it will look. For a fool-proof etching guide for details, we recommend making sure that your line width is at least .2mm, or .5mm if inverted. How do you check that? Use a ruler. Also, look at the design from an arms length distance – can you still make out what it is? While printing isn’t going to give exactly the same result as the laser machine, if all of your details look good printed at the actual size, that is a really, really good start.

The most common mistake we see in terms of detail is that people have an artwork that has been drawn larger (like A5), and then scale it down to be small or mini charms. There’s usually just too much going on to tell what it is when the design is shrunk so much!

I don't know if my idea will work and I don't want to waste money, what should I do?
The BEST way to ‘test if your idea will work’ is to prototype it at home first by printing it out on a printer and seeing how it looks, roughly fits together, etc. It doesn’t sound very fancy or fool proof, but if you can be happy with your designs in your hands at actual size in paper before investing in getting them laser cut, you’re likely going to love how they are laser cut!
I can't draw, what should I do?
First of all, I don’t believe that for a second! But really, if you aren’t able to get down a design onto paper, there are MANY other ways to get designs that you can laser cut. You could:
Hire an illustrator to create something unique for you,
Hire a designer to design something that you envision,
– Contact the creator of existing content to see if you purchase the rights for use to turn their design into laser cut goodies, and/or
Purchase the commercial rights for use artwork online. Some are for as little as $1. My favourite resource for purchasing designs is Creative Market.

If you like any of these options, all that you need to do is make sure that the illustrator/designer/artwork matches up the design with the set-up guides for the product that you are interested in. For example, you wouldn’t want to pay for a watercolour to use for etched charms, as they can only be made from a black and white line-work drawing. Just be aware of the requirements!

What you should avoid doing is using images that you’ve randomly stumbled upon online. Just because it’s online, does not mean that it is free. You need to contact the original creator to find out if you can use to for commercial use. You also shouldn’t copy someone else’s existing design/s, that’s just not cool.

I want to buy an image that I've found online - what do I need to look for?
Purchasing commercial rights for use for designs online is an AWESOME way to get designs. The designers grant you their permission for you to use their work for (usually) whatever outcome you like, and you pay a fee that they’ve set to do so legally and ethically. Some designs are available for as little as $1. My favourite resource for purchasing designs is Creative Market. Here’s what you want to check before handing over your money:
– Make sure that you’re purchasing commercial rights for use if you intend to sell (or benefit in any way that may make you money) the end result. Some websites display prices for personal use by default, and commercial rights for use are usually higher.
– Make sure that what you’re buying matches up with the set-up guides for the product that you intend to order. For example, you wouldn’t want to pay for a watercolour painting to use for etched charms, as they can only be made from a black and white line-work drawing. Just be aware of the requirements!
– Make sure that you’re getting the high resolution version. MOST designs for purchase will be 300dpi or higher (what we need), unless they’re advertised for web use only (which are usually on 72dpi and no good for bringing into the real world).
– Buy from a legit design resource website and/or do your research to double check that the design is meant to be there. I (Ella) have personally had people upload my work to ‘free for commercial use websites’ and makers (unbeknown to them) went ahead and made earrings and all sorts of things from a design that they did not have permission for from the original creator. This is really only an issue with websites that promote ‘free’ designs.

What you should avoid doing is using images that you’ve randomly stumbled upon online. Just because it’s online, does not mean that it is free. You need to contact the original creator to find out if you can use to for commercial use. You also shouldn’t copy someone else’s existing design/s, that’s just not cool.

Pricing

How much will my job cost?
If you order via the Custom Cuts Shop or from our Templates Shop, all of the options for quantities and prices are shown via the product listings (and vary depending on the size of the product, quantity, and material chosen). These prices are all inclusive (of any file set-up required, material use, laser time, laser operator time, and packaging your order).

If you order as vector file, the price will vary depending on how long your file will take in the laser machine, and what material you use. As a general rule, ordering as a vector file is most often cheaper, because your file is set-up ready to go – you only pay for laser time and material use. We can only provide a quote from a vector file that is set-up ready to go as per our set-up guides. This is because we process the file through the laser software, and it tells us how long it will take. More complex shapes (such as a star), would cost more because there is a longer total distance that the laser has to cut around (when compared to something simpler, like a circle) – so the price really depends on what’s in your file.

Can you give me a price without me supplying a file?
No. We may be able to give you an estimate, but it’s very difficult to price a job without a file as we need to calculate how long your design will take in the laser machine.
Does Vector Etch offer wholesale pricing?
No. We are a supplier and do not follow a retail pricing structure. All of our services and products only have one price, and are the best prices that we can offer. We do, however, offer discounted rates for bulk orders – these are displayed for each product and apply automatically if eligible.

Turn Around and Shipping

Can I receive my order by X date?
Only if it’s realistic and within our turn around times. We process orders in the order that they are received (with the exception of orders placed as a Quote by File/Vector File, which are able to be processed faster). This is to treat all of our customers fair and equally. We typically do not do rush orders, and cannot move your order ahead in the queue above other customers if you have not placed your order in time for your deadline. For more information, see our page on Turn Around and Shipping.
Can I pick up my order?
Yes. Pick up is available from our studio and can be selected when you check out by opting for ‘local pick up’ as the shipping method. We will email you when your order is ready to notify you that it is available for collection. See Turn Around and Shipping for more information. Please make sure you have received an email to let you know that your order is ready befpre you arrive at our studio to pick up.
How long will it take for my order to arrive?
Allow at least 5-10 business days turn around for Custom Cuts Shop orders (including any products like stamps, templates – anything that is not ordered as a vector file).
Allow at least 2-3 business days turn around for files set-up as vector.
These turn around times do not include shipping time OR time for processing your quote (the turn around is from approval of the quote and receipt of payment).
If anything about your order is unclear, such as we need to ask questions or gain approval of a proof before moving forward, this will extend the processing time.
See Turn Around and Shipping for more information.
Where does my order ship from?
We ship from our studio 4 days of the week. We’re in Yeerongpilly, Queensland, Australia (about 15 minutes from the Brisbane CBD).
Can I cancel my order?
No. Once your order has been placed and paid for, our staff will start processing it and it can not be cancelled. You must ensure that your order is correct before completing payment. If you notice an error on your order, please get in touch asap and we will see what we can do, but likely cannot make any changes.
Are products in stock?
No. Most of our items are custom made to order, with the exception of some products like mixed bag of circles, glue, and jewellery supplies.
Do you ship to the USA or other parts of the world?
Yes, we ship worldwide. See Turn Around and Shipping for more information.

Help

I have an idea - can you help me?
Possibly, but unless you can make it align with some of our set-up guides, probably not. But we might be able to help guide you on the best way to get to the desired end result. Because our focus in on laser cutting and engraving, we typically only work with designs that are ready to go. If you have a creative concept in mind, or aren’t able to digitise what you need to place an order with us, we highly recommend getting in touch with a graphic designer, such as the ones that we recommend here. We’re, like, really good at laser cutting and engraving – and we’re able to give you great prices by focusing on what we do best. Designers are usually really good and making things to a brief (such as combining whatever you envision and aligning it to our set-up guides) – and will be able to price accordingly for their epic design skills. If you have any queries at all, please always feel free to get in touch via email to see what we can do, but like we said, laser cutting and engraving is our jam!
Can I call you?
No. We are an online based service and do not have a contact number for our services. You can email anytime, and we will get back to you asap with all of the help that we can provide. It is easiest for us to respond to your questions via email, because we can have a written account of what you’re trying to do, and can provide pictures and links to helpful information on our website.
Can I visit your studio?
Yes, but only to pick up orders and browse our samples. Any orders must be processed online (including material swatches and samples, which are made to order). We are an online based service and do not have a shop front.

Materials

Can I buy your materials by the sheet?
No. We only offer our materials when used in combination with our services.
What is the maximum material size?
Most of our materials are 600 x 300mm. We have some materials that are available up to 800mm x 500mm. Please refer to the material gallery listings for material sheet size information. Please note, you must leave around 2-3mm from each edge of your vector file/s so that your designs fit WITHIN the material sheets.
Can I supply a material or item to be laser cut/engraved/printed?
No. We only work with our materials, which are shown in the material gallery. These materials are selected based on their quality and suitability to laser cutting and engraving.
Are you able to cut or engrave metal?
No. We are unable to cut or work with any metals.
Are you able to cut or engrave leather?
No. We are unable to cut or work with any leather or fabrics.
Can you send me samples?
We have material swatches samples available for purchase via the Custom Cuts Shop.
We can not cut one-off samples or your design, with the exception of if it is ordered as a vector file (as you can arrange your file however you would like it cut).
If you would like to do a sample of a design, we recommend getting in cut in all MDF OR clear acrylic – these are our cheapest materials, and it is generally more cost effective to do samples in one material type.

After Delivery

What if something arrives broken?
Get in touch asap with a photo to show us what broke and we will send a replacement. If your order included parts that are thinner than 2mm (thinner than our recommendations), we cannot ensure that they will be strong enough to endure shipping and may not consider any damages here our responsibility.
What if my order is wrong?
Get in touch asap with a photo to show us what is incorrect and we will do our best to send a replacement. If something is incorrect because the requests with your order weren’t clear (such as you didn’t give us all the information required e.g. didn’t specify dimensions, didn’t reference a previous order number, and/or were unclear about the total number of holes, etc), we are not able to offer a replacement (at our expense). We process every order directly from the website, so if you didn’t include all of the information required we would not have know what you were wanting done differently.

Website Issues

The website isn't working for me!?
If you experience and difficulty at all using our website, please let us know – we would love to hear. If you experience any errors at all, first make sure that you have added all of the information required. Try on a different browser, and also on a different device. If that didn’t work, simply email us with your order requests (size, quantity, material, shape, shipping address, preferred shipping method OR pick up, anything else we may need to know about your order) and we will email you a quote to checkout directly.