Help, engraving text onto game pieces!

Hello all,
I am trying to engrave some Jenga blocks to turn it into a drinking game :slight_smile: But… I am having some trouble.

I am using Inkscape, I make a grid and start writing my text and aligning it. I save it and open it in the GF app and it shows that I have imported something… but nothing shows up on the main screen…

Sorry for such a newb question. I know it is probably something simple.

I don’t want to do all the pieces individually… whats the best way to knock this out?

A noble ambition if ever i have seen one.
I don’t drink (except for the winter solstice) and i still think this is genius


Are you converting your text to paths before exporting?


You probably need to convert your text to paths. Select your text and then choose Path -> Object to Path.


When trying to hit so many small targets I would suggest using a sacrificial piece of paper and a manual minimum power cut to make sure your alignment is dead on. Or, if you haven’t done a full-bed accuracy test, do one of those. (I found that the rightmost 2/3 of my bed has good enough camera accuracy for a task like this, with the left 1/3 having error of about 1/8".)

Remember, STROKE without fill for things you want to cut or score. FILL without stroke for things you want to engrave, like the text.


I am not much of a drinker myself but it does make things like jenga more interesting! Happy winter solstice!

Thanks for the help guys. Will try it when I get back home. I definitely was not converting the text to paths… tried tracing bitmap and all sorts of junk. I am so wet behind the ears it’s embarrassing!

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Sounds like you are starting just exactly where I did. You’ll do fine.


to be fair… it’s for drinking so you wont notice the alignment for long!


Alrighty, finally got back home. In my text dropdown I have “put on path” which I don’t think is correct. Under Path I have “Object to path” and “stroke to path”… and stroke to path made the little side bar look slightly better but still nothing popping up on the main camera view of the app…

Thanks for the encouragement. I thought 3D printing had a steep learning curve! This is even more complicated to me than CAD stuff!

So, what am I doing wrong?

I may have been a bit premature with my last post. Object to path seems to work with at least a quick test!

Doesn’t work when I try multiple words… I tried grouping them… nothing. brain hurts.

Ungrouping might be necessary. @marmak3261 has a tutorial here:

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You just have to select the text block and then do Object to Path, nothing else should be necessary.

Do you have anything else in the operations space that is a black fill? You might want to make your text a different color fill if it is on top of something else. Just thinking of possibilities.

You guys are awesome taking the time to help me out. I will take another stab at it tomorrow.

I can only imagine how simple this has to be for y’all!

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5 months ago everything I knew about Inkscape could be written on the back of a postage stamp. I’ve graduated to postcard-sized knowledge since then. :wink:


One thing that no one has mentioned yet is that you may have your position Way off. Sometimes Inkscape defaults to extremely negative X and Y position for your objects, which would make them be so far off screen that you might not be able to see them.

If the problem was that you were importing text and convert paths, the glowforge user interface would have thrown a warning.

Try going to Inkscape, selecting all, and then set the x and y to zero. Resave and reupload, might solve your issues.

Edits: siri made some interesting interpretations here.

This is actually something that I’m very interested in doing as well! I have two sets of jenga blocks specifically for this purpose.

Here’s my idea on how I’m going to do this one.

  1. In inkscape I will be creating my artboard to the 11 x 19 size (yes, I know this is not necessary for alignment within the GF but it helps me visualize everything I’m doing)

  2. I’ll then measure my jenga block and increase the size by .07" (rough kerf width) in both directions and copy that rectangle as many times as I can on the art board, with about 1/4" space between them all.

  3. In each of the rectangles I’ll use the Text Editor to Add the specific instructions for that block, highlight it, and choose Path->Object to Path (Ctrl+Shift+C)

  4. I will be sure to color the text differently than the rectangle (Typically I’ll mark cuts as red, and engraves as blue).
    4.a. Note this is also the step where you count your blocks and if you have more blocks then rectangles, you will need to put some text directly on top of other text. Do this deliberately, and I would choose a different color for each “layer” of text.

  5. In the Glowforge I’ll load in a sheet of Cardboard (and measure the thickness, probably around .2" thick), and secure it as best as I can (tape, strong magnets, whatever necessary)

  6. Then I’ll load the file into the GF and ignore the text and only cut the outlines

  7. I’ll remove the rectangles using a pick (recommended by @Jules in many places, just do a quick search and you’ll see it, about $4 on amazon)

  8. I’ll then put the blocks in the empty slots and engrave the first layer of text

repeat step 8 switching out the blocks and the text to be engraved on them until you have worked through all the blocks.

That is how I’m going to be approaching this particular job. You can do it a different way if you wish.


Now this sounds genius! I am definitely stealing your idea! I was able to finally get my text to show up in the GF app thanks to everyones help! it was a combination of the object to path and setting the X and Y to 0 that got it working. So, I am still slowly learning.

I am loving the Glowforge, I can’t wait until the camera alignment is spot on. I just kind of dragged and dropped the text where I wanted it on the jenga piece and of course it was off a few mm. That cardboard trick will fix that! I can’t wait to get home and try it now.

Thanks again everyone for all of the help. Sorry for being such a newb, I will try and pay it forward one day!

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Steal away my friend. These ideas are not original to me, they are ideas that I’ve gained from many in this group over the past two years. This is my way of one who is new to lasers paying it forward for others to also learn.


If I were going to do it – and precise alignment were important to me – I would make the jig cutout rectangles intentionally too large, then set the printed text to be carefully aligned to one of the corners (I use lower left). That way you can “seat” the blocks in the lower left corners of each void you make. You’ll get nearly perfect alignment, and your jig wont be so tight that it can’t handle the small imperfections of the blocks themselves. The SVG will look “off”, as your text will not be exactly centered in your rectangles, but it’ll turn out correctly on the blocks. (More detail in footnote below)

You might want to also reconsider your kerf adjustment step, as it is probably not really needed. In this case, kerf is probably going to be invisible – it’s a Jenga set, not a carefully interlocking construction. To put it into perspective, let’s say they are 1/2" tall by 3" long, your kerf represents a difference of 0.007/3" in the long direction (1/5th of a percent) and 1.4 percent in the vertical. You’ll probably see more variance in the blocks if you get your calipers out.

I use similar techniques when doing any sort of irregular shaped pieces, like slate coasters, etc. They are frequently not perfectly-sized, and if you try to make it too precise, you can end up getting really frustrated at best, ruining the job at worst.

Footnote for the workflow-obsessed who are fairly deep on Inkscape:

In inkscape, you’ll have to translate to your favorite…

OK so if I were going to do it, I would make a rectangle that is 1/10th of an inch too long in each direction. Measure the jenga block, say it’s 0.5x3, I would make a black fill, no stroke rectangle that is 0.6x3.1". Then I’d convert that rectangle to be green stroke and no fill.

Now, I’d make another rectangle, this time exactly to fit the Jenga piece, blue stroke, no fill. I’d use the Inkscape snapping function to align the corners of the rectangle. Now you have 2 nested rectangles.

Now, write your text and align it with the center of the inner rectangle. Change the text color to black (or any not blue/not green color you like).

Clone and repeat the rectangles, then align texts in each spot… As a last step, select all the texts with select same color (you did remember to keep your colors separate, yeah?) and convert them to paths.

Lastly, remove all the blue rectangles with a similar select/delete, you wont need them in the final job file.

The last step: remove the blue jenga block outline, it wont be needed in the final product.

You will end up with a whole bunch of these:

You would send it to the GF ui, set your height and cut settings for cardboard and cut out the green paths, and ignore the words. Cut them out and remove the waste.

Insert your blocks flush against the lower left corner of your new jig voids, change the engrave height and settings, ignore the green cuts, and you’re off.

Now, I skipped a bunch of steps whereby you do a few other key things:

Combine all your text into one path, so the GF doesn’t decide to jump around from object to object which would potentially make your engrave MUCH longer.

While you’re at it, decide if a text engrave is needed or if a score would do it. A score would be waaaaay faster.

Leave some blank space in the template so you can firmly magnet it in place… you cant use 100% of your cardboard, or it’ll move at the slightest suggestion.

Decide how many blocks and/or unique words you need and how many will fit in your cardboard jig, and you save a template to use for additional runs, or better yet use layers to make several layers of texts so you can leave the jig in place and engrave several sets of blocks at once

Alternately, if you decide that precise alignment isn’t 100% important, I would make a grid of wide “plus signs”. and just score them on a piece of big cardstock. You can eyeball the block placement and probably get pretty good results. Your workflow would be cut way down if you did this. Get to know tiled clones, you’ll be happy you did :slight_smile:

…but you probably get the idea. Good luck, post pix!

(Sorry, that got long. Anyway.)