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So I’ve been trying to etch a map onto slate, and when I do, I find that what the GF etches is substantially different than what I see in the preview. This has happened to me twice now, both times with the GF leaving a large margin at the top left of my slate. I got the same results with the slate moved as far toward the back of the crumb tray as I could place it, or as far towards the front. I was able to burn smaller artwork onto a smaller piece of slate without incident, but at 18x12, what I see in preview is nothing like what I get.


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The preview location in the UI is heavily sensitive to the correct focus height being entered - are you measuring the slate with a caliper and entering the thickness into the 'Uncertified Material" box?

Tape a piece of paper lightly to the slate and stick the thing in the glowforge. Line up your design. Very very very lightly, start etching the design on the paper. You dont need to do the entire thing (ideally, you would maybe add a different colored vector box around your design, and just score that on the paper, but that might not even be necessary right now, unless you know how to do it quickly and easily already) most likely, just get a better idea of how things are lining up. If its right, remove the paper without moving anything. Just the paper. Then etch the design normally on the slate. If it isn’t right, lather rinse repeat the paper placement until it is.

Not ideal (and you may have other issues you need to address with your machine - like it might be something to do with doing such a large etch and the engraveable area being smaller than the cutting area), but it will get your project done sometime today :blush:


I did measure it with a set of digital calipers.

It would be helpful if you posted a screencap of what you see in the GFUI preview.

Where are you placing your material?

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The first time I did it, the slate was fairly low on the crumb tray, towards the user. The second time I did it, I moved the slate as far away on the crumb tray as it would go. Both times I got identical results.

The reason I ask is the engraveable area is only so large - and you have about an inch of space on the left hand side that you can’t even see on the camera. So, if it’s against the left rail you might think you are putting it on the left edge but you really aren’t.


I would put a rectangle in your artwork that is just slightly larger than your slate and centered on your engrave where you want it. Then put some blue tape to the bed where you want the corners of the object to be. Run the rectangle as a score on the blue tape. Then open the lid and place the slate in the center of the score. Set focus height for the slate and engrave away.


Agreed. I’ve done this several times with things that i don’t get a second try on, like the back of an iPhone.

When placement is critical, always do a preview cut with one of the methods others posted.

Even if you trust your camera preview 100%, the preview accuracy is contingent on inputting an accurate height measurement… Which you can screw up, too.

Copier paper is cheaper than Proofgrade, slate, etc.

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Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry your print didn’t turn out the way you expected.

Like others have alluded to, the Glowforge Basic bed can accommodate materials measuring 18” x 20”. The maximum printable area is currently 11 x 19.5”, and it’s reduced somewhat when the laser operates at high speed, as it can take space for the laser to decelerate. We’re working on software improvements that will increase the printable area as well as the camera’s field of view.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by posting a new topic or emailing us at