Is it better to engrave before cutting

I will have multiple sized shapes for engraving and cutting on one sheet of material.

I might have sizes ranging from 1 inch to 5 inches and totally different picture engraves for the various sizes.

Is it better to engrave all items before cutting them out?

I tried searching and there was not anything specific regarding my question. Thank you very much for all replies.

1 Like

I personally find it best to start with engrave, score and internal cuts first then end with cutting out.


Ditto what @markevans36301 said - I find there is sometimes tiny movement after I’ve cut (if the material has any flex), so I do all the engraving and scoring first, and the cut last


Tritto! (And make sure to pin down your material whenever possible.)


Thank you. I never have put any thought into internal cuts – now I will.

I have noticed the slight movement in the material after the cut. Thank you

There is one case where cutting must come first:

If you plan to engrave a inlaid piece. You gotta do your inlays first then use a jig and engrave on top of the inlaid wood.

It’s a weird edge case but if your making heavily inlaid boxes it’s the way to go.


I use about 20 honeycomb pins and 2 magnets on the right side. Thank you so much for your time. It is ALWAYS appreciated by me.


You’re worse than I am. This is not a good sign.* :wink:


ROTFLMAO!!! I made the honeycomb pins out of 1/8 wood and acrylic. The acrylic ones have not even cracked. After 10-15 times the acrylic pins seem to get smaller. When that happens they lose their ability to hold down material.

Huh acrylic pins. I use mdf, I wonder if acrylic would be better.

1 Like

I tried a batch of acrylic ones too, but they do bend a little bit over time, making them less effective than the wood…I wound up just going back to draftboard.


I have noticed that Baltic Birch has a bit more spring than the Draftboard.

1 Like

Unshielded magnets bad, If you wave a thin screwdriver loosely in your fingers at the height above the magnet about the same as the cutting head and you can feel the pull it can create problems for your machine.

1 Like

Really? Why is that? Not that I’m planning to do it, but I’m curious why that would be.

Okay, speaking of the pins, this reminds me of something I have been wondering. Some of my pins fit so loosely in the honeycomb that they really don’t hold anything. But if I put them in a different hole, they are pretty tight. What causes that, is it the pins are worn out? Surely it wouldn’t be different sized holes on the bed, right? Or is it that my baltic birch is so warped nothing would hold it flat enough? It’s really not an issue, except for when I have a really warped piece of proofgrade, where I can only use the pins on the very back and very front, and lots of times, I can’t get the pins to hold it down flat.

1 Like

My bed holes vary greatly. It’s easily noticeable to the naked eye.

1 Like

Take this guy:

Specifically this:

So the redheart insert is glued into an engraved pocket on the underside of the lid, which is a through-cut inlay piece. Alignment was key, so I needed the pocket to be perfectly placed on the underside of the lid. While I may have been able to engrave the two pieces of inlay separately, the chances of getting it right were greatly reduced compared to assembling first, then using a jig to setup the engrave after the glue dried.

So, it’s really situational… but there are definitely cases where engraving after the cut is a good plan.

Oh that does make sense. I wasn’t thinking the engraving would overlap the inlaid pieces.

It’s this exactly - it’s a wavy grid so they connect at different points in the wave - I often find that if a pin is loose one direction, if I rotate it 90 degrees it’ll be tight

I’m sure eventually you’ll be thinning down the edges of your pins, but I’ve been using the same ones for over a year now (so 50+ times minimum) and I haven’t run into that yet (mine are plywood)