Need help- what software? How do you do this?!

I bought the GF and have used it to print the GF designs only- once. I thought this came with software. I have no idea how to use this machine, what software to use, how to do settings- I do not know how to do anything.
I would like to engrave axe heads and handles. Is there a way to make a template for this? Once that I can use every single time? Just plug in a name and away it goes?
I need an instructor. ;-(
Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide.

Yes, there are some mini-tutorials (just a page or two each) that flesh out what you learned when you ran through the Glowforge “Getting Started” designs.

At an overview level, what you are going to be doing is creating designs using the design software of your choice, then taking the designs into the Glowforge User Interface to make the machine cut them out and engrave them. So you’ll need to get comfortable with how to use the design software, as well as how to use the Glowforge interface to run the machine.

Don’t panic if you haven’t selected a vector design program yet, there are folks who can help get you started learning just about any of them. If you don’t want to buy additional software, there is a free vector design alternative called Inkscape, and that is what most people use to create the files. But you can also use Adobe Illustrator if you happen to be familiar with it, or CorelDraw, or Affinity Designer.

So…I would recommend you do a little reading. The tutorials listed below will help to give you an understanding of what we’re doing, and taking the time to read them at least once will put you months ahead of someone who just jumps in cold and tries to do the one thing they’re interested in.

Start with these…they explain what is going on and give an example of how to use the Glowforge Interface.

Print a Gift of Good Measure.
Print a Snap-n-Store Box with Customization
Make a Gift Tag
Shortcut Keys
Trace a Hand Drawing with the Glowforge
Print your Own File
Cut Out a Shape
Engrave and Cut a Photo
Print Text
Introduction to Inkscape

Manual Mode in the Glowforge - How to Save your Settings

More information on the Glowforge Interface is available here:

Everything listed above is designed to help you to understand what’s going on. After you’ve read through them, you can select a vector design program and there is more specific information on how to use whichever one you choose in a large repository of tutorials called The Matrix. And people to help. You just need to decide which one you want to tackle. Feel free to ask questions of the group, each program has it’s advocates. :slightly_smiling_face:


If you want to engrave ax heads or handles that are thicker than a half inch or part of the piece is over a half inch there will need to be extra preparations and planning to keep from damaging your machine.

Engraving metal is in itself another rabbit hole that will take looking into so that you know what you are doing. @Jules suggestion of steps to take is great wisdom that reflects what thousands of us have found.

It would be a guess that the best reason to need to engrave ax heads would be if you are doing your own blacksmithing which would be very cool but not much computer stuff involved in the doing.

I don’t know specifics of folk here that are also blacksmiths but would not be surprised if there are several. I have pounded a bit of steel but would not consider myself even an amateur at it.


You are in the right place.
I came here knowing nothing too! It may seem difficult from the beginning, but once you understand the fundamentals it’s easy as pie.
The links Jules gave you will answer most of your questions, enjoy your adventure into the world of laser engraving :sunglasses:


Thank you very much.

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No, I’m not a blacksmith, I own an indoor axe throwing range. Two of them.


As long as the axes are less than 2" thick and as long as the handle will fit inside the glowforge what you want should be very doable. Once you understand some basics you can post questions in the Everything Else category and someone, more likely someones, will point you in the right direction. It sounds like you’ll need a jig(s), an Inkscape template that matches your jig, a material to apply to the axeheads to mark them and understanding how to laser without the honeycomb. All of this has been covered here before.


Thanks for the answers, everyone! I’m going to close this thread. @caribis2 is right, if you have any more questions after reading the tutorials and resources here, feel free to post in Everything Else.