celluloid inlay material


Senior Member
Feb 8, 2019
Reaction score
Not only can't the power of the laser be lowered, another cool trick is to cover the sheet of celluloid with painters tape. I've done it on mother of toilet seat material as well as thin birch ply and the tape helps get a clean cut or image without the scorch marks around the image or inlays.
Yes, this is a necessity with cutting celluloid with a laser. Any masking tape will do, but you must tape both sides of the material. Also, in my experience, you want the laser moving at as high of a speed as possible, this means that you may actually want the highest power the laser will output, then up the speed as much as you can while still cutting all the way through the material. If you are already going at full machine speed, then you can start to lower the laser power. On the laser I use I go with 100% power and 60% speed. Cutting slower increases the heat build up and does a better job of igniting the material and melting the edges.


Junior Member
Dec 6, 2009
Reaction score
A CO2 laser will be a better choice than a visible laser for celluloid.

Use high power, short impulse so you can get in and out before it ignites and to reduce the heat-affected zone around the cut to avoid cracking. Make a few test cuts and rub a sharpie along the back edge to look for lateral cracking indicative of an abnormally low power to pulse width ratio. The sweet spot should be easy enough to find.

I spent years working on military, industrial and medical lasers including seminal work on ceramic scribers.

Wear plastic laser glasses!!! and not glass glasses. Incident radiation is a real issue and will blind you in a uhum... Flash. The plastic begins to melt and you can see it happen in time to get your face away. Glass will heat up until the glasses explode in your eyes.


Silver Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 25, 2009
Reaction score
I've purchased "real" cellulose nitrate sheets from a seller on eBay - they were advertised as "50's pattern accurate" and were in an "aged" cream color. I didn't have an instrument to compare them to, and as I intended to cut a full set of inlays from them I wasn't overly concerned over any perceived "accuracy" in pattern or color. Sadly that seller appears to have gone out in a blaze of glory via bad reviews - but the company lives on and can be found at:
...but they don't do eBay sales any longer apparently.

There's a very small handful of people making real cellulose these days - and you will pay dearly for it and shipping will be high because it's haz-mat.

I would think cutting with a laser would be possible, but I'd be sure to have a strong fan or "air clearing hose" pointed right at the cut point. Would be easy to rig up a small fish-tank style air pump with a nozzle right on the cutterhead via a few feet of hose.

Fumes are DEFINITELY toxic.
What a useless website...