Masking on printed photo paper?

Hi all,

Has anyone managed to successfully mask coated photo paper for cutting on the glowforge? I print and cut some fine detailed images and use a jig and template to get precise alignment around the print outs i create. I can cut them perfectly with a slight amount of smoke marking but it can be noticeable on white / lighter coloured prints as you’d expect.

I’ve tried a couple of different vinyl transfer papers and low tack masking tapes to date but on coated printer papers they simply pull off the adhesive layer and leave that adhesive on the paper (i guess the photo paper coatings are there to suck the ink in and do the same to the adhesive).
At the moment the only solution i’ve found is to print on standard copier paper that is uncoated but the print quality / colour suffers as a result.

Anybody found anything or got a solution for this?
Thanks all!

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Hmm this is a tricky one. I might try coating the paper after you print like with a couple of coats of spray acrylic.

It might make the surface tough enough so that masking will work for you without taking up the print. It might also make it waterproof enough so that you can just wipe the surface with a damp paper towel to get the smoke marks off, no masking required.

There’s also liquid latex:

Or even plain rubber cement. That might do the trick and then be pretty easy to rub off.

This issue speaks to me because I despise smoke marks. Definitely let me know if you try any of these because I think you’re the first to really ask this question.

@jbmanning5 was a Glowforge user for a long time and he did a lot of jigsaw puzzles. He has since moved on to a bigger laser, but maybe he will reappear to chime in on this if I mention him. It would be nice to hear how he’s doing anyway, he was a great contributor to this forum a long time.


Oh yeah, one other idea I had…

They do make waterproof ink jet paper. I wonder if that might help and allow you to wipe it off without having to mask.

Some googling led to this about fixative spray:

And this about waterproof papers:

And this paper:

Anyway in general I wouldn’t try to figure out how to make that masking work with your paper I would try to figure out how to get the smoke off of your prints without using traditional tape masking at all. Good luck!


@evansd2’s first suggestion is the winner. when i make puzzles, i use the technique i used from @jbmanning5. i mount the photo paper on the board, spray with windsor and newton spray varnish and let dry. then cut. you can easily peel off masking or sometimes literally just wipe down. but i stick with masking because it’s better right around the edge of the cut.


Not the most intuitive solution but if you’re doing a lot of this I’d seriously consider adding an Aura or Spark GF to your arsenal. I have both a Pro and Aura - the Aura cuts paper and cardstock very cleanly.


Good suggestions from @evansd2.

Another option for masking is Frisket. It’s expensive but, should work.

I haven’t been able to find it in sheets but, they have wide rolls of paper tape that uses the Post-It adhesive. I sometimes use that for masking on delicate paper.


I’d also try cutting upside down - but that would definitely make the identifying harder. If you can, put a piece of cardboard (or other sacrificial item) underneath, then the photo, then cut from the back (I’d mask the back just to keep it clean.


I have cut photo paper using a homemade jig as well. I found it ‘helpful’ to place it in position then put a piece of paper on top…also, as @ekla stated, I got the Spark and it’s perfect for cutting paper and much less scorch plus it doesn’t fly around!


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