Trying my hand at inlays, and cuts are not even close to accurate enough for this. What am I doing wrong?

As you can see, I’m trying to do an inlay, and before I use my expensive veneer, I’m trying to get the kerf sorted…which I feel like I have done. My issue is with accuracy. Look at these two cuts. I made the hole first, and I made the filler using the same shape, offset by .0009in to adjust for kerf.

Well. As you can see from the picture, the cuts are not at all accurate. What am I doing wrong here? Or is there a calibration procedure I have to do from time to time? This is incredibly frustrating.

Really can’t tell from the picture how much things are off or if everything is square. Kerf is material dependent. Trial and error.

If squareness is the issue it’s likely that the rotation of your inlay is wrong. The GF is not always perfectly square between different machines but the cuts should be exactly the same out of square for a machine. And out of square is usually only noticeable with calipers.


You won’t know the kerf for the expensive veneer until you use it.


Yeah I realised that. It only fit in one way. Which is incredibly strange. Ya know…since accuracy of lasers is supposed to be more accurate than I can do on the tablesaw or by hand. Basically my cuts aren’t square. You can tell from the photo how obviously bad they are out of square.

The repeatability should be extremely accurate. If you cut a hole and use the same design with a proper kerf adjustment, a perfect press fit should result. I caveat that with the fact that adjusting for kerf in a design package is not always straight forward. Guess what I’m saying is that any squareness error should be the same in both cuts.

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I can’t really tell what I’m looking at in the photo.


We’d like to have you try a few troubleshooting steps for us:

  1. Turn off your Glowforge.
  2. Check for small pieces of debris or dust.
  • Check the lower door to make sure it closes all the way. It may require some force to open, but open it, wipe any dust off the edges, and close it all the way.
  • Remove the tray and clean any dust or debris from the surface underneath. Pay careful attention to remove all debris from the four dimples where the tray rests.
  • Check the lid to make sure it closes all the way. Small particles of material, such as dust or debris, can prevent it from closing completely.
  1. Check the surface your Glowforge is on to make sure it’s flat. Ensure it is not twisted slightly and that there is no debris propping up one side of the machine.
  2. Turn your Glowforge back on.
  3. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Place the Proofgrade Draftboard in the center of the bed and print the Gift of Good Measure using the default settings.
  4. Take a photo of the resulting print and post it here.


So, this is something I’ve done so many times, forgive me for suggesting it, but just in case… is your inset is aligned / oriented the right way with regards to the base? Does rotating it help reduce the tolerances?

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for 1/8" materials, I use .007.

What design program are you using? If you are using Inkscape and the offset tool, that can be a problem as it rounds corners and offsets in unexpected ways. The general method for kerf compensation is to use the stroke width definition and then change stroke to paths for inner and outer.

That said, your shape does look wonky.


I use illustrator. And do an offset stroke of the original shape. It’s most certainly not the software, but the glowforge itself.

Not sure what the staff member thinks, but where it sits has nothing to do with it. I could have it sitting on an un-level surface, and the device itself shouldn’t become out of square because of that. The machine is pretty darn robust.

That being said, it’s sitting on an MDF laminated 1 1/2 worktop. It’s as flat as possible without machining it to within some insane tolerance. Everything else cuts square. I haven’t used it for anything this precise. And so far, I’m extremely disappointed.

What other things can we try to eliminate things and narrow it down?

What happens with other shapes in different parts of the bed?

Can you take a few different angles of the issue. I really can’t tell much just by this picture alone. Is this a cutout with nothing inlaid in it or does it have an inlay? How thin is this veneer? How big is this? There is not a scale to judge this.

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It’s a 1/8 in piece of ply with the hole, 1/8 in piece of MDF as the “inlay”.

I’m very sorry for the delayed follow up here. We have a guide for re-squaring your Glowforge here: that may resolve the issue you’re seeing. If that doesn’t resolve things for you, please let me know and we’ll continue to troubleshoot.

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies on this thread so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email