Cutting pre-printed sheets

Hi there!
I am trying to cut out these necklace cards. I have printed the design onto cardstock and am trying to cut out the squares. I have aligned my cut marks perfectly over the printed sheet in the glowforge app but the alignment gets way off when I actually cut them. (see attached)

In the future I would also like to cut out pre-printed greeting cards so I’m going to need to figure out this alignment thing!

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

Have you performed the camera calibration procedure?


My frustration too. The calibration will defintely help a lot, I can get quite close. But in the end I still can’t do what I really want to do.

With patience and using a little test area on the print I can get close on the X and Y, but still find a fraction of a degree rotation can stymie the whole thing.

This was my original use case, cutting pre-printed materials. I’ve gone on to make other things now, but I still wish I could do this.

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This looks like a job that a Cricut or Silhouette could likely tackle with a little less struggle than a Glowforge.

Running the camera calibration will definitely help you get closer, though.

Alternatively, you could buy thick paper/cardstock and have the GF engrave the text and cut out around it, instead of printing it.


Definitely do the camera calibration - but also keep in mind most printers will have slight differences across the sheet (rotation, delay on the sheet pull, etc. can all effect your final product).
I find the best bet is to line up the cuts in the GF with a 2nd box like 1/8" of a inch larger - score that at like 1% power, and then use that as a guideline for setting up your print lines. If everything is perfectly centered - you can go in, turn off your larger boxes, turn on your inner boxes and cut normally. If some of the squares are slightly off center - adjust those manually in the GFUI, run your larger score again, and repeat.
You can only do that a few times before there are too many lines to make it helpful, but you get used to your machine’s adjustments and it goes faster each time.


I experimented with that a while back when things weren’t near as tight as now and discovered that If you do not give the eye something to measure from such small vagaries will not be noticed. If nothing else put the lines outside where you will cut and a fraction of a millimeter off will not matter


What should work is:

  1. Print your VIC TAC TOE on paper/cardstock that is less than 19 inches wide and less than 10.9 inches tall.
  2. Place your VIC TAC TOE file into a file with a rectangle the size of your paper. Make this paper-sized rectangle a different color (the red rectangle in the image below).
  3. Place a large piece of cardboard, or cardstock in the glowforge and cut out just the paper-sized rectangle. DO NOT MOVE THE OUTER PIECE AT ALL!!!
  4. Place your printed sheet into the hole you just made.
  5. Now cut out your individual VIC TAC TOE squares.

Note that printers do not guarantee the absolute placement of what they print. Those are called plotters. Most printers are really good, however, and it probably won’t matter. If things aren’t matching up just a little bit, it is probably your printer or your paper is feeding a bit off. If things aren’t matching up a considerable bit it’s a problem in the file.

Or buy a paper cutter.


Also, if those outer lines aren’t part of the design, I’d get rid of them. They’re going to highlight any issues you have lining things up.


Do you have Snap Marks?
If so, I’ve used them to do something similar, and can give you tips on setting files up for that.

If not, if you’re just doing straight cuts, you’re better off just using a paper cutter or knife (rotary or exacto) to do these cuts.

But if you really want to use the GF, as @cas.wood suggested, you may have good luck etching the text on a card stock (you’ll really want something heavy like that anyway so they don’t crumple if you’re putting any jewelry on them). And then you can do the etching and cutting at the same time and ensure you have the proper alignment.


This is a great question and an important technique that has many uses and has been discussed and 'cussed many times over the years. There are different approaches. Often it is called “print and cut”, meaning print out a design on an image printer and then cut out the shapes with the Glowforge.

Here is one archival attempt at it:

Here is a long topic that discusses it in detail:

And here is a Glowforge stalwart giving a how to on it:


Chuckle! I thought I’d taken that down. :smile:

@cynd11 has got an easier to use method written up here, so that’s usually what I send folks to:

(note: You do want to do the Calibration first if you haven’t done it yet.)


Another possibility I didn’t see mentioned, is to laser out a stamp for your cards, cut the cards on the laser, and then you eyeball the stamp placement. Benefit to this is using neat inks or even embossing your inked letters on your jewelry cards ;p


I have not, but I am going to now!