Cutting off not centered

I purchased my glowforge second hand, When it engraves or cuts it is off, it doesn’t cut or engrave where it shows it is on the project, How can i fix this?

Welcome to the forum.

Are you using the set focus tool before placing your design? Have you completed the lid camera calibration? How familiar are you with the Glowforge alignment process?


I haven’t done any of this. How do I do this?

Support pages under Alignment

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It is possible that you don’t understand some key points - the main two being that the lid camera has a fisheye lens and the camera shows the usable part of the bed and not the entire bed. If you don’t know this, you think you are placing your design at the upper left corner of your board and are sad to discover the print occurs lower and to the right of where you thought it was going to cut.

Read through this and then return to the forum with additional questions.


so on my cutting board it was centered the design was but it didn’t engrave it where it showed it on the screen, it was off.

The set focus tool adjusts the view to account for the fisheye lens and the actual material on the bed. You set focus before placing your artwork. The camera will usually get the alignment correct within 1/4". If you need more precise alignment, a jig should be made.

Another thing to know is that you should never move the printhead or carriage arm with the machine turned on.


Even though your machine is not new, you are new to it so following the path for those starting out could be very useful.


Warning: long explanation incoming.

There’s a camera on the lid of the machine pointing at the crumb tray. It takes a picture of your material, which shows up on the GF application, bordered by some rulers, and you line up artwork with your material that way.

But how does the Glowforge know how big or small to make the camera picture so the rulers are accurate and you’re lining up your artwork with a life-sized image? After all, a 4 inch square of wood will look larger than 4 inches if it’s closer to the camera, and smaller than 4 inches if it’s further away from the camera. That’s just how vision works, right? It can only scale it to show up as 4 inches on your screen if it knows EXACTLY how far away that wood is from the camera.

Since the distance from the camera to the crumb tray is a known number, the only unknown is how thick your material is. If you use Proofgrade materials, the thickness is programmed in. It’s still an approximation, since every piece of wood or plastic varies a little from the next, but it should be pretty close. That means the camera picture will be scaled pretty close to “true to real size”.

But if you put anything else in the machine, it won’t know, and the picture won’t be the right size. If you line up your artwork with that picture, it will print somewhere other than where it shows on your screen. This is what you experienced.

However, the picture can be accurate if the machine knows the thickness of the material. And you can tell it that by measuring it, or asking the Glowforge to measure it. The “Set Focus” button tells the Glowforge to go measure the material height using its laser range finder on the bottom of the print head. If you don’t use the “Set Focus” button before hitting the “Print” button, the first thing it does is go and measure the material height on its own, picking a point near the middle of your design as the place to measure it from. That’s what it means when it says “autofocusing on your material”, the first part of the “preparing” stage before the time for your print pops up.

If the measurement it comes up with is different from the height of the material you had selected, you’ll see everything “shift” on your screen as the camera image is scaled to true size. But if you had already used the “set focus” button before lining up your design with the picture, the image is already scaled, this step of “preparing your print” is skipped, and there will be no shift.

TL;DR: Use the “set focus” button, and then line up your art with the now correctly scaled camera image.


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