Converting PDF/JPEG drawings

I purchased my Glowforge to eliminate all the scroll sawing I had to do manufacturing wooden toys. I have literally 100’s of drawings I have created and saved over the years.
I have tried converting them to SVG files from a pdf scan and a jpeg scan. There are literally 100’s of ways shown on YouTube. No matter what I do when I import the drawing to my Dashboard it either changes size of the inner shapes won’t cut out they just show etch option.

  1. I have tried Inkscape with no luck, should I try converting a pdf of a jpeg.
  2. I have tried the trace function and followed instructions found on the community forum.

I am not the sharpest guy, and have no patience.

Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

I’m not even sure how to attach a image of one of my drawings I’m having problems with.


Anything you scan in will end up being a raster image, which you won’t be able to cut but only engrave. Cuts have to be vectors. A jpeg is a raster to begin with, so scanning it in won’t change that. If you have PDFs, you don’t need to change them to SVGs…they will work directly in the GFUI as they are. In fact, many people prefer to use PDFs.

In whichever design app you use, if you always use an artboard that is 20"x12", it will import correctly into the GFUI without changing the sizes.

Any drawing that is a jpeg will basically have to be traced by hand to create cuttable vector lines.

I hope this helps…best of luck.


To post a pic just right click on it and select copy. Then on the comment section select paste.


Calling attention to this - go and create an art board in Inkscape: Open a new document. Click File > Document Properties. Change the Width to 20" and the Height to 12". Close the Document Properties and then click File > Save Template. In the Save commands at the bottom there is a checkbox for “Use as default” - click that.

Everything else becomes easier if size isn’t an issue.

If you upload a typical example of your scrollwork I (or others here) will happily walk you through turning it into a cut file.


I am excited to discover that this no longer crashes Inkscape on Mac like it did in previous versions.


For your archive are they currently archived on paper of archived in pdf scans of the hand drawing? I assume they were not drawn digitally but on paper.

Depending on how complicated the drawings are have you tried the glow forge scan from the laser bed feature? It’s been a while since I used it. Can’t remember if it produces cut lines or not.


I’ve not used that in a very long time either, but last I remember it will produce cut lines, but doubled, so you have to delete one of the lines.


I use Gimp (free software) to create all sorts of single lines. I laid out how here:

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