Staining birch before or after cutting/engraving?

Trying to engrave & cut a piece today. I’ve got unicorn spit black/gray/white stain applied and dried. I can’t get it to do either, is it because the board is to dark??


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If you could provide more info someone might have an idea for you to try. Try to explain this in as much detail as possible.


Doubtful that is the problem as the Glowforge easily engraves and cuts matte black acrylic. Perhaps you could provide some additional details or pictures of what you are seeing.


I’ve stained the piece of birch that I was wanting not to have to mask. When I tried multiple times to engrave the item (Star Wars Calendar) GF couldn’t do it. I then tried to just cut but wouldn’t do that either. I’ve since put in a unstained piece of birch in and its going well.

if the issue is that your forge cannot focus on the dark material, a small piece of less dark tape applied in a location not critical to the engrave would make an excellent thing to focus upon via the set focus feature.


For non-color reasons I’ve found it’s better to do it after: Especially if you’re gluing stuff together, it holds together about a thousand times better on dry wood than on stained wood.

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What does “couldn’t do it” really mean? What did you expect to happen that didn’t happen? A GF will engrave or cut stained wood just as easily as natural color wood. This was engraved on stained baltic birch for example.

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I have had trouble with a Star Wars calendar too. I wonder if it is the file. Mine is styled like an Aztec calendar. Is that what you have also?

What exactly did happen? Did it refuse to move? Did it make the motions but not leave any trace? Did it give you an error? Remember, we can’t see what you are seeing so we depend on your description which is very vague.
It makes no sense whatsoever that you could process the exact same file on an unstained piece but not a stained one. That would be like saying you changed the tires on your car and it wouldn’t start but when you put the old tires back on it was fine lol.

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This makes no sense.

I’ve engraved and cut pre-stained, or painted wood dozens, if not hundreds of times - including black and really dark materials including B&W board and black chipboard. The GF doesn’t care what color it is.

You need to define what “couldn’t do it” means.

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Yes that’s what I have too.

We’re you finally able to print it? If so what did you do differently?

Like others above, I’ve engraved, scored and cut on all sorts of dark paint/stained woods without issues. I am very familiar with Unicorn Spit, and I doubt that is the issue. I did a 3-hr engrave on US earlier this morning. A descriptive explanation of what your GF is doing/not doing is really helpful to the community in providing troubleshooting suggestions.

I used an unstained board and only engraved. May have been a bad file someone earlier responded they had trouble with one.

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