Align material without bed

Has anyone had any luck aligning material without the bed in place? I have always used a piece of paper sitting on the bed to score a template line in the past. This allowed me to just put the material inside the line and it would be aligned perfectly.

I am needing to engrave a design on to a cutting board that is just over .5" thick. I have risers that I 3D printed to get the surface in to the working area but I can’t use the paper method to score a template.

Any suggestions?

Here’s my solution.


This is a good idea. My issue with this particular cutting board is that it is larger than the cutting area as well. It makes it not possible to cut a jig also. So frustrating.

Have you tried using the Snapmarks?

Laying here I started to wonder if I could place Snapmarks on a very thin (think veneer) and cut a circle “jig” that would surround my design. Then place the cutting board on risers and place the Snapmarks veneer jig on top of the cutting board and laser my design “through” the jig.

Make sense? Lol. It’s clear as can be in my head! I swear!

Is it larger in both directions? (X and y)?

If you have Snapmarks, then I would engrave or score them (I don’t remember which works best so I no longer have them), into a scrap piece of material, and cut out the circle where you will place the design.

Secure the “jig” you just created to the top of the cutting board, put the board on a riser, set your material height to engrave down the thickness of your jig, and then engrave your design using the snapmarks for placement.

I’ve had decent success, but I do a lot of math to make sure the focal point measurement is right. That makes a huge difference in alignment no matter what.

If you can 3d print the risers, why not 3d print the alignment part as well, If the risers sat in the grooves for the crumb tray and notched up where the edge of the cutting board was supposed to be it would be a perfect jig, that you could remove and replace, You could even make it with the Glowforge.

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You might be doing the long way.

I made a box that is exactly 0.5” below tray height, simple subtraction of 0.5 gets you the focal height.

Also using calipers zeroed to tray height are a fast and easy zero math option. Just use the shelf measurement, outlined here.


This is a good idea! I remember seeing some pieces like that on Thingiverse.