Waste board grid


I already had A nice sheet of plywood and used that. Hadn’t thought about MDF.

After I posted I figured out I could move my grid to match the LB grid but I’m still not sure how to get my designs on my grid. Do I just import them and place them where I want them and then make the entire grid a file?

Thank you for your reply to my post,
Ernie Hodge

Well I’m officially frustrated beyond anything I’ve ever done before. I can’t get my laser to work with the grid I printed on my base plate as an alignment tool. To be honest I about ready to throw the entire thing in the canal behind the house.

Does anyone in the forum know where I can find a ‘layman’s’ tutorial on how to get my laser to hook up with my placement grid?

I can’t find anything like that anywhere and I’m sure it’s me not using the correct search terms (which I have no clue what to search for).

I can burn projects but when it takes twenty minutes to get everything in alignment it’s just not worth the wasted time.

I could really use some guidance,

Ernie Hodge

The grid you see on-screen is exactly the size of the bed, if you told LightBurn what that size is when you first set up. You do this in the ‘Device Profile’. You can check / adjust this if required. Click the ‘Spanner / Screwdriver’ icon near the top-center to expose.

Once set to match the physical size of your gear, locations seen on-screen will match the same location on your bed when output.

If you use the ‘Position Laser’ tool, click some location, say X=20 Y=20 on the screen grid and your laser should travel to that physical location on the laser itself when configured properly.


Do you have limit switches setup for this system?

Yes, you can turn off the grid in LightBurn, but using another grid that you created is not a good solution. You are trying to replace a key element of LightBurn, a coordinate system that matches that of your hardware, providing very accurate placement and production. Your grid, no matter how you create it, will never be as accurate as the internal LightBurn coordinate system.

I would like to suggest you walk-through our beginning project to help you understand LightBurn. I think your frustration may be helped by doing so. Suggest starting here: https://lightburnsoftware.github.io/NewDocs/BeginnerWalkthrough.html

Keep us informed of your progress. We are here to help.

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Thank you for your reply and help. My laser does not have limit switches.

I went through the link you posted and I may have found what I’m ‘not getting’. I’ll attach a picture.

If I don’t have a grid printed under my laser, how will I know where to put my ‘product’ on my laser bed to burn my design? That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. Can I burn the LightBurn grid on my base under my laser and if yes how?

I know I’m not asking this with the correct terminology but honestly I just don’t know how to ask what I need. Let me try this, I need a grid under my laser so I can put say a cutting board and burn a design on it without having to frame the project multiply times to get the alignment correct.

Does that make sense?

I really appreciate your help and I don’t want to be a pain, I just want to get this laser up and running so I can get some Christmas products up in my Etsy store before it’s to late this year.

Thank yo,
Ernie Hodge

On my diode laser I have put a perforated steel plate with spacer blocks on an mdf plate. Then I screwed a 3mm plywood board onto the steel plate and used my max coordinates to cut out an angle as my reference. It worked very well for me.
To make a series of uniform topics, I make a template that I straighten into my reference angle.

It is ok, and your terminology is fine. I understand what you are trying to do. I did provide a link to the exact steps we suggest for create a “waste-board matching grid project” for output.

Here I went into greater detail: Drawing a grid the size of my burn area

You replied that you had success with this process and ran that job. Please show the result. Where did you have the ‘Job Origin’ set? Show us how that file looks in LightBurn (screen cap entire window).

This may help in understanding how the Coordinates and Job Origin settings affect the location of your output.


Is your waste board and laser frame fixed together, meaning stationary, so they don’t move independent form each other? To have repeatability, you will need these fixed to ensure the registration of your grid stays calibrated with the actual movement of your laser. If the waste board moves, registration is lost.


I did use your instructions to create my grid. I did make it two squares (60mm) smaller all the way around. I got tired of banging rails with the laser. I positioned a graphic in the lower left corner of my grid that is burned onto my base board. (The one you call waste board.) When I tried to frame the graphic it went to the left of and towards the front of the lower left corner. So I was back to manually positioning the board I was trying to put the graphic on.

I don’t have the file to take a screen shot of but I guess I could try and do that again but I would rather move forward.

I actually have the Coordinate and Job Origin printed out and have gone through it several times trying to figure it out. If I remember correctly Absolute Coords is what I had set for my test that I did.

How can I burn the LB grid to my base plate? (After I paint it so my grid gets covered up.)

Which setting would be best to burn multiple products at the same time if that’s possible? That’s where I would like to get to. I don’t mind working towards that after getting a grid set that I can use to quickly align a project.

My laser has all four feet captured by angle brackets so it doesn’t move.

It’s late for me but I will go through the CoordinatesOrigin material again in the morning.

Thank you for sticking with me,
Ernie Hodge


Thank you for your reply. That’s sort of what I want to do after I get my grid set up and can be sure where my laser will burn.

You don’t need a grid for this - If you have a diode, you can enable it when framing or jogging, so you can see exactly where the beam will go. You can jog the laser around with the move buttons or the number pad arrows, and you can hold the Shift key when you click a ‘Frame’ button in LightBurn, and it will leave the beam on while tracing around the boundary of your design.

Hi Oz,

I just found your reply and thank you.

Let me explain why I ‘need’ a grid. Lets say I only have one product to engrave, then sure I wouldn’t need a grid. Now let’s say I’m getting 10 to twenty orders a day. I won’t have the time to manually position the laser. I realize I have a cheap Chinese laser but it’s all I can afford right now.

So, If I burn the LB grid to my base shouldn’t I be able to put my product on the printed grid and have the laser burn my graphic or text without having to manually move the laser into position?

I’m going to try and set my laser to the lower front left position on the grid as the home position when the laser gets turned on. My laser doesn’t have limit switches and that’s what I found somewhere in the docs. Please correct me on that if that’s not correct.

I would like to be able to do multiple designs at the same time. Can I do that? I’m asking because I don’t know if that’s possible or not.

So, do I need a grid. Maybe, maybe not but I want some kind of alignment system built on my base. Any suggestions are always welcome. I won’t apologize for maybe misunderstanding some of the docs and/or suggestions as my wife is dealing with a major health crisis at this time. It’s weighing heavy on me right now.

As always you help is appreciated,
Ernie Hodge

I’m with my laser and have created a grid file to the dimensions of the LB grid. When trying to Frame it nothing happens so I tried to burn the image and got a message saying ‘One or more shapes are crossing the edge of the machine workspace and will not be sent. Continue?’ I deleted the outside lines on the grid and got the same message so I put them back, hit start and when I got the message I clicked on ‘Continue’ and the laser moved a little over and inch X and W.

I guess I’m done until I figure this out and I’m wondering how I got the smaller grid to burn. Do I need to remove the 'boarder lines and shorten the vertical and horizontal lines 30mm all the way around? That would still give me what I’m looking for.

Ernie Hodge

OK, I created another grid which is one ‘cell’ smaller all the way around. Shut down LB, manually homed my laser, and restarted LB. Opened my new file and clicked on frame. The laser moved to the left around 90mm and then started framing. That put the laser against the left side rail, then down to the back, across the back and back to the front where it actually started the framing. How do I get the grid image centered as close as possible on my base? I must be missing something. I’m using Absolute Coordinates.

Ernie Hodge

You’ve said already that your laser does not have homing or limit switches, which means the laser has no idea where it is until you tell it, and it won’t be terribly repeatable - no grid that you lay down will be very accurate, because you don’t have any way of accurately zeroing the machine itself.

Toward the end of this post is a heading “Homing and workspace” - read this to help you understand how to get reasonable positioning without them:

Ernie, if you zoom in on my machine (here in the thread) you can see one of the end stops that I have mounted on this machine. It is an easy task which in turn is substantial to be able to use the machine efficiently. If there are endstop switches in your controller it is fixed for 2 $ max and under 30 minutes.


My laser bed is 40" x 40". I will be doing what you have after I get my grid burned on my base plate. I’m using this laser for engraving so it won’t be a waste board.

I want to be able to locate more than one product at a time and they will all be the same physical size. That’s the reason for the grid. I hope that makes sense. I do like your angle bracket.

Ernie Hodge

@ErnieHodge ~ Please do not misunderstand the following, I am trying to help. :wink:

We are trying to share that you do not need a printed grid. You can make one, but you do not need one.

If you do choose to make one, keep in mind that it is a more advanced project, ending up with an accurately produced and registered waste board grid. The skills required include a solid understanding of how LightBurn uses its ‘Coordinate and Job Origin’ to define the starting location of any job. This must be understood, then leveraged to produce repeatability of any kind.

Nowhere in the process of understanding do we suggest the use of a printed grid on the laser bed for placement. It is a pain in the backside to set up with no real benefit when using LightBurn.

We offer tools to help you align a job to your workpiece. This is known as “Framing” the job. When you click one of the ‘Frame’ buttons, the laser will start to travel around showing you where it will be working when you send the job. For your system, Oz offered this to help explain: How do I turn on my diode at low power to focus it or frame a job?

I do this all the time, as do a lot of the users here. Many of us will use a jig to do this. Think using a sheet of cardboard where you have cut the same shapes of your workpieces. Pin cardboard to bed, and use the cutout to hold each workpiece in place. Run job, remove finished pieces, replace with fresh stock material and repeat.

Here I am showing “…multiple designs at the same time”.

(screenshots from Demo video)

With the proper understanding of how LightBurn uses this Coordinate and Job Origin system, along with a good understanding of the hardware in use, accurate and repeatable tasks can and are achieved every day, without a waste board grid.


I’m all good with what you are saying. If I don’t need a printed grid and can make a jig I’m all for that. I actually watched that video when looking on Youtube (I think) and to me I don’t understand how you can do that and not have anything in some kind of order. I don’t understand how you (or anyone) can get the designs on that many products being ‘all over’ the place on the table and have them where you want them on each piece.

I have the Coordinates and Job Origin printed out and have read through it two or three times. One sentence stands out to me at the end of the Current Position section. ‘Using Current Position and Job Origin together lets you line up a cut on a piece of material with ease, once you understand how it works.’ I think that’s my issue, I don’t understand how those work.

If I have multiple pieces do I have to do that every time for each piece? Is there a video on this that I’ve somehow missed?

When I get done with my daily chores I will try the User Origin. I took one of my designs and put it in the upper right area of the LB grid. Do I have to manually frame this with the laser on to get it set to cut or burn? What if I have ten of these to do, how do I do that? I know this is something that either has to be stupid simple that my mechanical brain is not getting or I’m just never going to understand this without a really good video.

Rick, I appreciate you trying and I do understand that I’m not looking at this the way you do but I’m trying.

Thank you,
Ernie Hodge

I think part of the problem might be that you’re trying to land a bunch of designs on existing objects in exactly the right place. You really do need limit switches and repeatable positioning of some kind if you want to do this.

That said, it’s possible to do it a different way. Imagine you have 9 dog tags that you want to run. You make a template shape like this:

Tape a piece of thin cardboard to the wasteboard of the machine, and burn the template into it at low power. Then place the tags in the burned outlines.

Then, you place the artwork in LightBurn into the template, and turn off the layer you used to burn the template marks into the cardboard, and run the job:

Regardless of the ‘Start From’ mode you use, as long as the machine doesn’t lose steps between running the template and running the actual job, the alignment is simple.

If you’re trying to align on a bunch of different shapes, sizes, etc, then you’re going to have a much harder time, and you might have to line them up one by one. LightBurn has tools for that too, but if your machine can’t run in Absolute Coords you’re going to have a hard time doing ‘production speed’ work.


I will only have a couple of different sizes of products so I guess I could do that. So then every time I need to run a particular size I would have to do that all over again (Making a template)?

Should I be using Absolute Coords period? I just came in from trying Job Origin which was a total disaster. I couldn’t get the laser to frame the work. It was at least 60mm off from where it was supposed to frame. I think with all the different things I’ve tried maybe a setting got changed so I’m going to check there.

I’m to the point where I may just need to step away and forget the Christmas sales season. I really don’t want to do that but I also don’t want someone else doing my laser work and send customers inferior work. I’ve had that happen to me from my POD company on something I ordered for my wife. That doesn’t work for me.

At the point of typing this I’ve been sitting here for over half an hour trying to figure out how to ask this question. God how I hate written communications, they never come out as intended.

In your example with the cardboard cutouts, if you want to use that again, how do you line it back up with the laser? That’s kind of why I wanted to burn the work area grid on my base plate. I’ve seen other people who have that (online) and I thought that would be an easy tool to use.

To me that’s the same as mounting an ‘L’ bracket to a base plate, am I wrong? I have a smaller version burned but I decided to try the entire work area grid and it framed it but it just wasn’t framed left to right in the correct place. Front and back was OK.

I had planned to use a ‘L’ bracket on the left side and front because it made sense and would always be a fixed position.

If I can’t have that how do I get this thing set up for Absolute Coords so I can use it? I’m totally lost with what this laser is doing. I’ll pull the settings and add them to this post tonight and maybe that’s got something wrong.

Sorry for the long post and thanks for the help,
Ernie Hodge

PS I don’t consider myself a stupid person and I’ve never had anything kick me down on the floor like this.

Without homing switches, you’d have to line it up manually. I can’t stress enough how much easier your life would be (at least with your laser) if you just install homing switches on the machine and set up the homing cycle. Once you have that, you will have a machine with repeatable positioning, and then you actually could burn a grid into the wasteboard that worked and was usable, you’d be able to burn templates or jigs that always worked, and using Absolute Coords would be trivial.

Without homing switches, you could use an L bracket to butt the template up against so you knew it was properly square, then manually jog the laser to one corner, and use ‘Current Position’ with the ‘Job Origin’ point set to whichever corner of the template you were pointed to.