Leaving Tabs or Sprues in the Wood

I’m looking for some help. I was recently contracted to fulfill a massive order of wooden model kits. I’ve done the design in Adobe Illustrator, and tested the cuts numerous times, so I’m ready to go. Except - I cannot figure out how to insert a tab, or a sprue - basically, a tiny pause in the cutting of the stroke, so that the cut pieces will remain on the sheet of wood after they’re cut.

I’ve searched through this forum, through Adobe’s forums, and even reached out to a local industrial designer. I can’t find the answer - and it seems like this ability to keep the cut pieces on the sheet of wood would be a fairly common need. Particularly if you’re selling product that needs to be shipped unassembled.

Does anyone know how to accomplish this?
Thank you!


First off, welcome to the forums.

I’m not an AI user so the exact sequence I don’t know but I just tried it out in Inkscape and had no problem.

I just added two nodes very close togather and then deleted the span between the two nodes. You will want to do this several places per cut peice.

If you are not under an NDA can you share what you are cutting? We always love to hear about other peoples projects.


Tagging @jamesdhatch because I’m pretty sure he does this routinely (I’m remembering the flat pack reindeer at Christmas time).

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That would be what I would do as well two, three or four at most. More often the vagaries in the wood make plenty and I would add an extra layer of shielding against flashback as you will have to overpower most places.

I tried the “flat pack” option once, but I didn’t have very good success. I was considering blue painter tape before pulling it out. Cuts down on the profit though.

If anyone has had success, I’d like to see this as well.


For me (in inkscape) I’d use some clever path management to join my pieces and then overlay a very thin sprue-width rectangular path or two that crosses the whole piece. From there it is a simple matter of booleans to break the path where they intersect and manually remove the resulting sprue segments. Which Boolean will work best will depend a great deal on your specific design, but offhand cut path or divide in inkscape sound the most likely. Both of those actions have equivalents in illustrator.

If none of that makes sense, I’d start by searching booleans on the forum, the concept is the same across all vector software, you just need to know the specific terms for illustrator.


Yep - they make great giveaways at MakerFaires and demos (and to keep guests occupied while waiting for food at holiday dinners :slightly_smiling_face:).

I have a pair of hairlines 0.1mm apart that I clone on my cut lines and then do a Boolean to create the gap in the cut line. It’s more tedious than @evansd2’s method of dropping a few lines across the full part. But I drop a tiny arrow on the waste side at the same place as the break so people have an indication where to press to break it out.

Tip of the hat to @m_raynsford for his flat pack shark inspiration :slightly_smiling_face:


Nice touch.

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Martin’s idea - I just copied the technique :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m a big believer in standing on the shoulders of giants.


If the position of the “sprues” don’t matter you could use a stroke with a long dash and a short gap.


That’s my favorite Cake song.


I want a girl with a mind like a diamond.

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Gaaaa, now I’m going to have a SVG themed Cake song stuck in my head. Time to go listen to the narwhal song just to get this out.


I’d have to check, but you can probably customize the stroke paths…

I don’t believe this works. As I recall, a stroke is a stroke – it doesn’t matter how wide it is or if there is a dash/dot/whatever pattern applied. YMMV, of course.

CNC software allows you to put tabs on floating polygons. I use Vectric VCarve which allows you to specify the number, location, length and thickness. It is a powerful tool. If you have access to CAM software, take a look at this capability.

If you message me the file, I may have time to take a look at it tonight and see if it is possible to add tabs. A svg format would be best.


In inkscape I use these two methods depending on the item.

  1. Find or make two close together nodes, break the link between them.
  2. Make a thin rectangle, overlay it over the edge of the object I want the sprue on - boolean remove it.

I ship a lot of flat pack of the same thing, and sprues are brilliant.
a) They mean you can pack and ship a single sheet - much easier and looks better
b) You don’t have to keep cleaning junk out of the GF after every run.

I have now made most of my designs so that nothing falls out of the final cut. As it happens I cut to A4 (US Letter nearly) size sheets and they fit straight into envelopes, plastic bags and/or boxes depending. This means making and shipping multiples is so easy.

Probably halves the time to make and ship overall.


So, after a little digging, I did find the below post. I was able to confirm it works in Inkscape 0.92. I will state that I haven’t tested this on wood. So, you will want to experiment a little. Some of the above answers may be a little easier to do than this, but I had fun :wink:


In a nutshell, you can add a dash option on a line and then modify it in the XML (Ctrl + Shift + X) and follow the instructions above. Don’t worry, it’s easy and revertible.

The TL;DR is

  • Open the Document Properties (Ctrl + Shift + D) and change your Custom Size Units to PX (write * down the “width” number, I got 1920).
  • Convert it back to the normal units you used (I use Inches, I have 20).
  • Divide the numbers (1920 / 20 = 96).
  • Determine how far you want your tabs spaced apart following a line (millimeters or inches) and multiply by this number (Ex, 5" * 96 = 480), this is your first number.
  • Determine how big of a gap, this is your second number,
    1" = 25.4mm = 96 px
    1/16" = 1.587mm = 6 px
    1/32" = 0.794 mm = 3px

If you add a dash to the line (Ctrl + Shift + L, go to Stroke Style, then choose one of the “Dashes”), open the XML Editor (Ctrl + Shift + X). There will be a gray selection on your path in the left frame, then choose “Style” in the right frame. Look through the code until you find “stroke-dasharray:”. Update it with your first number, add a comma, then your second number (ex: stroke-dasharray:480, 3;).

The below is technobabble.

The “stroke-dasharray” will have a series of numbers (ex 10, 10, 20, 10). This is a repeating pattern of “on, off, on, off”. So, you can change the array to something more fitting. These units are in Pixels, not inches.

Here are some more examples:

In Inkscape, I have a template for my files that is 20" x 12". This is equivalent to 1920 x 1152, which is 96 pixels per inch. So, if I want a 0.1mm gap every 5" on the line, I will have my stroke-dasharray: 480, 0.4. (there are 3.779 pixels in a millimeter). This is an EXTREMELY small gap and may not hold up to lifting on its own, but might with enough of them.

Anyway, YMMV. Hope this helps!



I would create a brush in Illustrator. Certain amount of cut, tiny gap, more cut, then just apply it to all the exterior strokes at once.

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You can actually set that up in tht dashed line dialog, no need for a custom brush.:slightly_smiling_face:

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