Single Line Engraving Fonts - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 🤔

The search for true single line font sets goes on… (They can be scored instead of engraved, which is a HUGE time saver when you have a lot of text to process.)

Good news - there’s a way to make them happen. :slightly_smiling_face:

Bad news - it’s very limited for a couple of reasons. :confused:

First, the only way I’ve found to make them work with Illustrator is through Rhino, which carries a fairly hefty price tag. If you have access to a student or teacher, you can buy the student version fairly inexpensively, but it’s priced well out of the range of most hobbyists. I wasn’t able to find a reliable freeware alternative. The only other option I saw cost just as much. (EngraveLab)

Second, there are very few true single line fonts available out there. Most of the ones that list as hairline or single line fonts actually have doubled up segments that laser twice or three times in the same place… makes for a very rough looking font when it’s lasered.

Quick and dirty explanation for this - Most TTF and OTF type fonts rely on closed paths - it’s just a function of the drawing programs they tend to be used in. Closed paths are created with a vector path on either side of the filled line that you see. It’s not really a single stroke, so you get double burning when you have a laser trace around a filled closed shape.

In order to correctly express single stroke fonts as curves, you need to take them into a program like Rhino, which will correctly express them as a single stroke, not a really skinny filled rectangle.

In Rhino, be sure to turn on Curves in the Display, and select the options shown below when you are typing your text:

Once you have typed out your text in Rhino, you can save the file as either an AI file or as a DXF file. Either one can be brought into the drawing programs and converted into an SVG for the Glowforge to use.

Okay so like I said, I tested a bunch of supposedly single line fonts, and the only (free) ones that actually are single line that I’ve found are displayed below:

Machine Fonts

These will actually just run once over the letters. Orach Technic
Engraving Fonts for Rhino [McNeel Wiki] MecSoft
Wish List item: SINGLE STROKE FONT - #12 by sochin - Rhino for Windows - McNeel Forum Machine Tool

And the results:

Monotype tests 1

Took about two minutes. :slightly_smiling_face:


Whoops, I forgot…as mentioned below, there is a Hershey font set available in recent versions of Inkscape.

To access it, go to Extensions > Render > Hershey Text.

inscape hershey

The font set is created with segments instead of curves, so it’s going to load with a lot more nodes than the others shown above, but it might process adequately for small jobs. (Haven’t tested this one.)

Anyway, it’s another option to try. :slightly_smiling_face:

Update 04/22/2021:
Speaking of which, there are now a couple of new candidates that @jbv and @jestelle have located that look extremely handy:


I was just thinking about single-line vector fonts today, for similar “save time vs. engrave” reasons! A friend of mine did some work on one a while back, an adaptation of a classic Hershey font:


Have you tried this site? . I downloaded one of their fonts and them seem to be a single stroke font (event though I don’t have my glowforge yet to confirm) Since I am wanting to use my glowforge for wedding invitations, I am really interested in finding out more about the single line fonts.


The other programs that will do these are Vcarve Pro and Aspire. Both way too expensive to pick up casually. If you also do cnc they are great though and once you own one of them you can export SVGs. I think about the things that kick my butt all the time in Inkscape and I think I’ll be using Vcarve more and more.


Oh thanks for bringing up Hershey text…I’d meant to mention that Inkscape has a variant of a Hershey font set available as a plugin…and it’s supposed to be installed in the latest versions. (Was that your buddy that created that? Awesome!) :grinning:

I need to put that in up top…

I haven’t looked at any paid sites since I’m not planning to do a lot of text printing myself - it’s likely that there are some good single stroke paid alternatives to the ones I listed above.

Oh good to know! I figured there had to be something available from the CNC world, you’ve been doing this longer. :smile:


No, I’m pretty sure you have done more longer, just that we’ve gone down some different roads. Just as Mr. Rogers said, everyone knows something you don’t.


Heh, I don’t know for sure but I wouldn’t be shocked. The world of recreational single-line vector font creation is small enough that there’s not gonna be a ton of folks tackling that particular task, but then who knows.

Here’s some more of his font work, though I don’t think any of the rest is single-line (even though the C64 one is inspired by a plotter-style font).


I am not an Inkscape user, but the Centerline trace plug-in seems intriguing enough that I might consider giving it a try if I really needed to score text. Here’s a video demo:


Can confirm that Hershey Text is pre-installed in Inkscape now. :sunglasses:

I wanted to see what Hershey Font would look like all lasered out, at roughly 12 pt and 20 pt (I think? ;p) Here is a pic of it on :proofgrade: maple, quarter for size reference:

A couple of close-ups:

and in a project, name tags for a local business:

There is definitely a point that making Hershey text much larger doesn’t look as nice, but if you stay below that, it can cut a lot of time off the lasering process.

Thanks for linking those resources on other options!


The Hershey Text in inkscape looks pretty cool.

I tried it quickly and got:

The letters are a little too linear, and it does create a lot of nodes:

But if you select the paths and do Path -> Simplify, you get this:

Which seems like a reasonable number of nodes. It also rounds off the letters a bit:

This would work for me for most cases where I need a one-line font.

Thanks for the tip.


reposted from another thread:


Reminds me of a site I saw a while back.

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I tested the CamBam fonts - they are not true single line. :neutral_face:
(There are places in some letters where they overlap or are doubled up. Not all of them, but enough to change the look of some of the letters. Although CamBam_9 is a nice shape that I might use anyway.)

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I liked his list and compatibility descriptions for each font there. (This one is good for Rhino, but not good for illustrator etc.)

Thus far CNC Vector has been the been my goto for illustrator for now thanks to that list.

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Updated link to the SDStroke font from the site:

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In Sketch, I converted font to outlines then added the smallest stroke with no fill and it worked fine. Haven’t tried in Illustrator but would think it’d work the same. Basically just don’t expand the stoke. Am I missing the point? Scoring was an option on the Sketch SVG.

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Yes, that can work if you are willing to accept outlining the text, and don’t mind some overburn at the turns. (It actually works for all text, in all drawing programs.)

Single line fonts are just a special subset created from a single line instead of a filled shape.

Totally up to the designer though in either case. :slightly_smiling_face:

Gotcha. Sounds like single line fonts are useful since you can keep them as editable text and not have to convert to outlines.

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Interesting. I tried to duplicate (I think) the same test run with just 12 pt text to get a sample piece of text styles to have for reference. When I try to get my GF to open the file it hangs up in the rendering phase and times out.

I’ve noticed that the gfui doesn’t like Inkscape groups too much, but if you remove the groups, select the paths, and then do path>combine (I think :sweat_smile:), then it works fine for me. I shared the file for that pic on GitHub and Instagram, but :phone: linking is hard :relieved:

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