I am working on marquetry, where I use a laser cutter. I'd like to use Inkscape in a mode similar to ArcMap's cut polygon. In ArcMap, I can create property lines (think new subdivision) with an existing shape (property boundary) that gets cut using the Cut Polygon tool. Very simple, you select the larger shape, then use the Cut Polygon tool to draw lines for your new properties.

I can kinda do this in Inkscape using Division Path. I create separate objects, tracing over an existing drawing, and then overlay and knock out the common boundary. A bit clunky. Hoping to find a simpler way to do this.

I can give more detail, there's a number of steps I left out as I start with a drawing from my wife, but thought I'd start with this much to see if it sparks anyone.

Here's an example I am currently working on. The numbers are for each area, including the background. This is on tracing paper and was scanned in. I'd like to bring into Inkscape and trace over there with the pen tool.

enter image description here

  • It sounds like you might be looking for something like the Shape Builder tool in Adobe Illustrator. There is a shape builder tool in development for Inkscape, but it's not in the stable release yet. There is a work around that involves using a Division boolean operation in Inkscape. Any chance you could share an image that demonstrates what you are trying to do.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 11:09
  • Added an example drawing to main post. Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 14:53
  • Thanks for the update. Yes a Shape Builder tool could do this easily, but you'll have wait until they perfect it in Inkscape. In the meantime, have a look at these I answered before: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/118375/89608 and graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/116788/89608 for possible workarounds
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 16:19
  • Looked at your previous answers and this is all dancing around what's hard. Getting the shapes to be common/exact boundaries, that's the nub of what's challenging. Forgive me if I'm a bit hazy, I haven't been doing the marquetry in inkscape for about a year, moved to another state :-). I have done the common boundaries with a bunch of shape divisions, 2 shapes at a time. Quite tedious. I'll look at your techniques as I get fired up agaion... Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 13:59
  • I've added an answer now, which should help you. Only one division operation is necessary. In your specific case the design itself is going to be a bit tricky, but doable.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


After a bit of trial and error, I was able to do this in the *Inkscape 1.3 development version using the new Shape Builder tool. The software can be a little glitchy and it crashed on me a couple of times, so might not be quite ready for production work yet. However it does look very promising.

  1. Basically you draw some closed shapes that overlap.

  2. Select all the paths, and hit the Shape Builder tool in the toolbar. This will take you into shape builder mode which shows only the paths.

  3. Click and drag over sections to unite them.

  4. Hold down shift to delete pieces.

  5. Click "Finish" in the controls bar to go back into normal editing mode.

Here's a screencapture of it working

enter image description here

*Note: I have no affiliation or connection with the Inkscape developers. Use this software at your own risk, since it's still a development version. It may not be entirely stable.


Inkscape doesn't have such a tool.

However there is a tool in development for Inkscape called the Shape Builder tool. This is very similar to the Shape Builder tool available in Adobe Illustrator. It will make jobs like this much easier. You can try the 1.3 development version which has this tool, although I am not going to use this for the following example, since development versions are often not stable enough for production. I tried, but it's not working properly for me. It may or may not work for you. You can read about this new tool here.

Anyway, this is the workaround using the current stable release Inkscape 1.2.1

  1. Draw your paths using the Bézier tool. When you come to sections where the path will meet another path, make sure to place a node at that point. We will need these for snapping.

Here is an example showing one of the paths. Note the position of the nodes circled in red. The placement of these is crucial as they will help us snap the adjoining lines, and are necessary for the division boolean operation to work properly.

enter image description here

  1. Enable snapping and make sure Snap to Cusp nodes is enabled.

enter image description here

  1. Draw your next line, and when you come to a join, make sure that the node you place snaps to the node you placed in the first line

enter image description here

  1. Repeat this process for the rest of the lines, until you have all the nodes in the correct position snapped to each other. All those circle in red are where you need the nodes to overlap.

enter image description here

  1. Select all the paths and do Path > Combine - this will turn the drawing into a compound path which is necessary for the division to work.

  2. Draw a rectangle and move it to the bottom of the stack using End(Lower to bottom).

  3. Set a fill for the rectangle

  4. Select both the rectangle and the compound path and do Path > Division

  5. Select and delete the outer edge of the rectangle

Now you will have a design where all of the pieces butt up agaisnt each other like a jigsaw. Select and fill each piece, remove the stroke.

enter image description here

  • After a bit of trial and error, I actually managed to do it in the development 1.3 version with the new tool. There's a quick screen capture here.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 17:12
  • Yes, that helps. Seeing how to align the insections, that looks good. Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 17:36
  • Yes, that helps. Making sure there are nodes that snap at the intersections definitely makes this easier. Took a bit to figure out about the snap settings, but finally found 'em :-). I will do the 1.3 dev with shape builder at some point. I am/was a s/w developer and can do qa on the new tool. One way or another, I'll get there, so thanks! Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 21:27

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