I don’t like stencil fonts all that much.
But over the years, I’ve found myself resorting to stencil fonts whenever I’ve needed to laser-cut text.
That’s because normal fonts have features called “counters,” or internal paths, that, when laser-cut, decrease the legibility of your type:
For example, if you laser-cut the word “bodega” (my favorite example because every character in the word contains a counter), you end up losing your internal counters in the process so the characters aren’t as recognizable:
Stencil fonts, on the other hand, have “bridges” that connect the counters (also know as “islands”) to the space external to the character. However, there are much fewer Stencil fonts out there than regular fonts, so using Stencil fonts limits the range of types you can use.
A workaround is manually editing the type by outlining it and using Pathfinder boolean operations (subtraction, difference, etc.) to edit the character directly in software like Illustrator. But this process is manual and can be quite tedious (check out this tutorial for an example: https://www.instructables.com/id/Laser-Cut-Stencil-Letters/)
During my time at Recurse, I’ve been learning about how to manipulate SVGs, an XML format for vector graphics. I decided to invest a few days into thinking about how to make the process of removing counters more automated, allowing anyone to laser cut with any font of their choosing.
An SVG path consists of a series of XY coordinators, along with character commands. For example, for the letter “b”…