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5 great last-minute gifts to make with your 3D printer or laser cutter

Can't get to the mall? Just print your own gifts at home with these DIY stocking stuffers.

It's a tough year for gift-giving, with so many items either out of stock or held up by shipping delays. Fortunately, we have plenty of tech for making our own gifts, not that you needed another reason to fire up your 3D printer or laser cutter. 

All the maker-culture tech out there is inspiring, and I've used these devices to create a pile of last-minute gifts that are all homemade, without, you know, feeling homemade. 

This collection builds off the back-to-school laser cutter projects I posted earlier in the year, and adds new 3D printer projects. These were primarily made on a Glowforge laser cutter and two 3D printers, the Snapmaker A350 3D printer and the Anycubic Vyper.  

Some are freely available online files, and others are my own custom designs. I've linked to the project files for each below. 

Read more: Best 3D printers for 2021

Laser cut Brooklyn ornaments 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

I started making my own ornaments last year, and love laying multiple images for a 3D effect. These are all combinations of well-known Brooklyn sights, cut from stained, polyurethaned 3mm wood. I used a Glowforge for these, but the Snapmaker I'm testing has a laser cutting attachment, as well. Look closely and you'll see my building hiding in one of the designs. I've uploaded one of the designs here for you to try out. 

Puzzle box

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Rather than handing over a wad of bills or whatever monetary gift you wish to bestow, why not make your giftee work for it? This classic puzzle works great as a 3D print, and you can find many designs and variations online at 3D printer file sites like Thingiverse. Get the .stl file here

Card kit ornament 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

There are a ton of variations of this concept online. It's a modern version of a model car kit, where the parts are all printed on a flat sprue. Clip them out, slot them together, and you've got a 3D sculpture, usually with a little loop at the top for tree-hanging. Here's the file for the Star Wars one I made, although you traditionalists out there can certainly make a reindeer instead

Headphone stand 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

I've tried a few 3D-printed headphone stands, but they take forever to print and work better as hooks you attach to existing surfaces. This wood version is easy to build, sturdy enough for big over-the-ear headphones and looks very chic. Get the .svg file here. 

Google Maps coasters 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

There are many tutorials online about how to grab a chunk of Google Maps data and turn it into a laser-etchable image. I used this one, which was very thorough. It uses an online app called Snazzymaps, which has a handy set of image-optimization tools to turn any Google map data into laser-ready art. After that, it was a simple matter of creating a hex-shaped template (you can make it a circle, square or whatever you like) and adding the image. If you want a slice of Brooklyn to rest your drink on, get my custom .svg file here