Working with Sharpies

My digital design skills are not fantastic. I’ve done most of my designing of my woodworking stuff with pencil and graph paper. I have a number of ideas of what I want to get accomplished and I keep feeling like I can do my best work just drawing the dimensions directly on the piece.

If I lay out box joints with a sharpie on the wood, Will the laser cut down the center of the line? Or does it do edge detection and if I click inside the shape, it will cut on the inside of the sharpie line?

I’ve done a search for this, but it didn’t bring up what I was looking for. I saw that I could potentially use a pen instead of a sharpie, but I don’t know that I saw where the laser will cut on that line (inside, outside, or center).


Curious to see the answer myself. :slight_smile:

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So I haven’t used the trace function too much but when it scans the design it vectorizes it. In my experience it has ‘thickened’ the lines when it vectorizes. At that point it gives you the option to engrave the markings and or cut out the boarder.

I’m not sure how it would handle a perfectly straight line. I would say your best bet is to design by hand, scan on a scanner then trace in Illustrator / Inkscape / or a CAD program then cut from that.


After you have drawn the line and scanned it into the Glowforge Trace function, you can tell it where to put the vector cut line by clicking either outside or inside the line that you have drawn.

Rewatch that first “Hello Glowforge” video to see how @dan does it.


Yep I did remember this video, but the part it was missing, was where the pink cutline went. I’m assuming that if I click outside the line, the pink line will show up on the outside border of the drawn line (and not the center of the line.

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Correct. The cutline is always placed into the interface between the two colors that it sees…in other words, between the edge of the black line and the white background.

If you click outside of the drawn line - the vector path gets placed right at the outside edge of the line. If you click inside the drawn line, it gets placed just inside the line between the black edge and the white interior.


Thanks for making me re-watch that. I hadn’t since I got my 'forge and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it meant each time I scanned an image and it talked about clicking in the white area or however it phrases it.


Yes you could do this but presently trace is not all that accurate

Try it out on some .15" cardboard. Do a trace and click on the lines. Ctrl + Z or whatever undo you have to retry it clicking in another spot. That really is the best way to see how it works. There are several different ways it will place the final cut line. Then you have to deal with thickness of material vs thickness of the paper you draw on.

I think that somewhere on the forum someone has done a construction just using trace, but finger joint boxes is an interesting challenge.

Here is a video that explores a bit about the trace feature. A little dated from the interface but does show the process.


Tracing the middle of a line drawing would be a good feature for the hopper :grinning:


You can make it produce a vector cut on down the middle of a drawn sharpie line. Inside line, outside line or on the line.

Edit: going to check this out. I may be mistaken. Anyone else got feedback on this and tested it? My bad. Sorry for misleading you. Perhaps I was imagining it or hearing something about this in the hopper.


Oh, I didn’t know this! Very cool to hear.

Thanks for sharing that! I’d never seen that video before. It was incredibly helpful. The GFUI doesn’t do a good job at all of explaining tracing. As a matter of fact, the wording about clicking the areas you want to get rid of, or however it phrases it, really confused me. Now I get it!

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I thought clicking on the drawn line would create a double cut line, on either side of the drawn line, but not down the center? (Don’t do much Tracing of hand work though, so might be mistaken on that.)


I do have to back up my statement and demonstrate it. So hang tight @kittski and @Tom_A. I don’t want to lead people astray. I can swear I used it like this, but that was a couple months ago. Perhaps it is only inside or outside.


Would be cool if it does…and you never can tell - they’ve rotated quite a few changes past us since we first got the PRUs… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Report back: no go. Inside or outside and not on the line that I could make happen. I regret I made this error.


Actually, a Centerline function wouldn’t be a bad idea for the hopper. We should suggest it later after things calm down somewhat. (grin)

In the meantime though, the first Pro unit email just went out - there’s a frantic rush to check emails.


Centerline is definitely in the hopper! In fact, the earliest implementation of trace did this - you can see it around 4:00 in our original video with Tested.

In the mean time, the easiest way to think about the trace cutout command is that “it cuts around the shape you click”.


Thanks for the clarification. I had thought it was a thing somewhere along the line and then was confused when I found out it was not a feature.