Inkscape prep

Here’s a project I’m planning to do once my Glowforge comes.

My dad bought these picture frames when each of his grandkids were born, and then his supplier vanished. My siblings and I kept on having kids.

Clearly laser cut. Cut from the back to hide the burn marks and smoke.

One of my projects is to continue with the named grandkids, and maybe do some for my in-laws and other folks, too.

My very first job in inkscape, then, is this:

What do I need to do with this to be ready to go in Glowforge? Will the software see this and know to cut along the lines, or is there more to do?


I don’t think any of us really know how the GF will treat the file as of yet. A bunch of ideas. One thing for sure. After understanding and tuning the project design, cut it in cardboard first.


true. Cutting in cardboard is always good.

My absolute lack of any understanding of CNC, lasers in general, and inkscape combined leave me to wonder if there are steps that are obvious to a CNC user that a complete newbie might not know.

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I can’t tell from the photo if you have already done this, nor what the operation is called in inkscape, but you will want to change the text to “outlines” (sorry, I only know the “illustrator” terms) and “merge” those with the frame shape so that it is one “compound path”.
(so when you mouse-over you get a bounding box that looks kinda like -> this)
You may have already done this.

From there I would imagine you should be able to upload to the Glowforge software, and simply tell it to CUT OUTLINE*. (*cut outline may not be the term they use… :shrug: )

The disclaimer, of course, is that I have not used the GF software:slight_smile:

But you are either (a) already there with your design, or (b) only two simple steps away!


thanks. I’ll see what I can learn about outlines.

I suppose these are questions specific to inkscape and not glowforge; but I expect there are enough people picking around at learning inkscape and sketchup and other tools right now while we patiently await.

It may be useful information to several people.


In Inkscape, you are converting the object to a path.
Your information led me to this:

Follow the leader, and I get the cut outline, or path.



Perfect. You got it.

Making text into outlines, and the Merge/Unite functions (found in the pathfinder tab in Illustrator) are going to very important for cutting operations. Engraves should not matter as much.
What you don’t want is to mouse-over and find this:

Since they are the same color they will look like one compound object, but if you told it to “cut outline” (or whatever) you would get a whole bunch of little finicky bits that weren’t attached to each other.

BTW, I made the red-outlined version above by using the Image trace function in AI, and adding a red stroke. The design is clean and solid, so it took less than a minute.


The original frames are not necessarily laser cut from the back. Especially after having done a few jobs, you can get a fair amount of soot stains from the honeycomb as the air assist blows heated bits back up against your wood. This happens even on early cuts with the smoke and debris from what you are cutting at the moment blowing down and backdrafting up a little.

A bit of isopropyl for a rub down gets things pretty well cleaned. Or a quick sanding. Probably you are set to use anything you want and wash/rub the surface really, the charring is mostly surface level only, unless the wood is REALLY porous.


If you want to cut it from the back to hide the smoke stains, you’ll want to apply the “mirror” transformation before uploading.

You can also use blue painters tape and cut through that from the front and then peel off the tape when you’re done.

Or, as Jacob says, a little isopropyl alcohol is often enough to clean it.

Light sanding can also be used post-production to clean the wood.

Lots of options. But a really cool idea for the photo mats. That’s an idea that just didn’t occur to me [dope-slap to the forehead here]. :slight_smile:


I use Inlscape for my laser cutting projects. Once you Change your text to a path and place it inside your frame. Hold shift and click bother the frame and text and under the Path tab select combine. Now once you click on View and then outline. It should all be one piece and that will cut fine. GF uses SVG from Inkscape. I have to convert to DXF for mine to cut until the Forge is ready. I elevate my wood when cutting so it cuts down on the back being burnt. A little light sanding takes any smoke damage off.


Just confirming - a shape that is outlined (regardless of stroke thickness) like @jbv’s example will be easy to turn into cutlines.

Do be careful, since I suspect you wouldn’t be happy with the extremely thin pieces though. You might want to thicken it; very thin slices can char (when cutting) or break (later) easily.


This is exactly one of the main things I am looking so forward to doing! Thank you for posting this…


Sometimes using “bold” with your font can help. Sometimes you just have to keep digging for a good font. Sometimes manual modifications can get the job done.


After spending some time learning just a bit more about inkscape, I’ve got a revision on my frames.

First try should maybe not have been so eagerly shared; perhaps second try isn’t all that great either; but I’m pretty sure I’m better this time.

And edited the file after I noticed floating dot on the i and a cut-off l.


Hey, that’s why we new to lasers are here, to learn.
I can’t think of a quicker way than to throw it on the table here, where I assure you - you are not alone!


They look nice.

If you want to have the dot on the i more removed feeling, you could do an engraved gap. Then you still have material, but it is distinct from the letters.

How you have it now looks good, but may be different when actually cut on real material.


To engrave the gap you would just use a different colored line to complete the dot, correct? Like @cmreeder, I’m learning.


A different color to fill the space (which was removed in these) between the bottom bar and the floating dot.


I like that idea, and will probably incorporate it for any I do beyond this set; but I’m following a previous style that mushed the dots in with the i. Those names belong to niece, nephews, and a son who don’t have a picture with their siblings because they were born after the supplier disappeared.

I’ll probably also use a font that doesn’t have such tiny fiddly bits - like that v that wants to fall off. Good thing it is a mat going in behind glass where it won’t be handled.

I think you did a great job. We all learn from our mistakes. I made a clock face last night and it wasn’t until I got home and showed my wife that she noticed I accidently cut part off it off. Oops. I too will tweak it in Inkscape and head back to the laser to try again.