Need help with kerf

I am a newbie here and am trying to cut a file I purchased from Etsy. After 4 tries and 2 sheets of medium draftboard, the tabs still don’t fit into the slots. They are a tad too thick and a smidge too wide for the size of the slots. I was reading about kerf (did I mention I was a newbie), but I’m really not sure how to adjust the file so it works. Many thanks in advance!

Problems and Support is for opening tickets with Glowforge support staff, so I’ve moved this to an appropriate section.

What app are you using to edit the file?

Here’s a handy video on the topic…

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Hi there. I am using Illustrator, and I’m a bit behind the learning curve on that as well. I’ve seen a lot of references to Inkscape, which I’ve downloaded, but I don’t want to learn a new application AND the GF at the same time if I don’t have to.

I’ll take a look. Thanks!

Illustrator and Inkscape are about equal in features/capabilities, no need to learn another app.

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One generic tip… I’m a trial and error kind of person. It’s why I like having a rapid prototyping machine in my house. I know if I had to send away for a part to be manufactured, it would come back wrong and I’d have to wait another 6 weeks. With the Glowforge, I can screw up a dozen times an hour, very efficient.

Oh, what I was actually going to say: to save on material, I will often just clip out a tab and slot from the design and make little test squares until I get it right and know what I have to dial in.

That’s not the only way, of course. There any many people here who are a wiz with measurement and math. I just find it easier sometimes to Goldilocks it in to the just-right setting.


For tabs and slots the design must be specific to a material’s thickness. What material thickness does the design call for?

Typically for medium plywood or draftboard, the laser will cut a kerf of .014".

It is very tedious, but in Illustrator or Inkscape you can highlight parallel nodes and nudge them. You can highlight multiple nodes in a design and nudge them exactly. But keep track of what part to nudge and what part to keep is not fun. But one thing is that you will learn how to manage nodes and such.

Almost always easier to redesign the part. Or get a material to match the original design specs.


This sounds like either a scaling or original material mismatch issue than a kerf issue to me. If you want to pm me the file I can take a look.

That would be awesome! I’m also new to this forum. How do I PM the file to you?

Click on the person’s avatar and you should see a button called Message in the popup window.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions. I was able to figure it our by adding a path offset to the slots. Once they were a smidge bigger, it fit!


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