Automagically is not so magic for me (cut through help!)

Sorry if this has been asked and answered, but your help is appreciated:

When I use proofgrade, particularly draftboard, but also medium cherry, I’m having a lot of trouble with the cut not going ALL the way through.

It’s really close, but I have to spend a lot of time with an exacto painstakingly pushing the work through, sometimes breaking the delicate parts.

I’d really like to tell the Glowforge: go 10% further.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a cost to this. The wood will get cut, no hassles.

But if I try to change the settings for the cut, it doesn’t show me what the automagic settings were going to be and then give me the option to take it to 11.

(I’ve tried cutting using the trace bed and the SVG upload options. I don’t think it’s the kerf, I think the glowforge is chickening out about the depth. It’s really close, but why not have it be clean and easy?)

Thanks for any advice on this.

1 Like
  1. Load Proofgrade as usual
  2. Open one of the “Cut” operations on the left
  3. Change “Proofgrade” to “Manual”
  4. Note the settings – these are the current PG defaults for that material).
  5. Reduce speed as required.

If you search the Beyond the Manual section, you’ll see the many users slow down their PG cuts a tad to ensure they complete.


I’ve had almost no trouble with cut-through since I 1) stopped storing my wood on edge and 2) started using magnets (liberally!) to make sure my board is completely flat on the tray. Even the tiniest bit of warp will cause issues. (Frequent lens cleaning is also a must.)


Yeah, any amount of warp at all in the material will keep a perfect cut from happening. I haven’t had an incomplete cut on Proofgrade since I started using these Honeycomb Grid Pins.

(And they’re a free share, so be sure to thank the designer.) :wink:


thanks for the grid pin tip, @Jules … just what I was hoping for.

I tried the manual trick, @dwardio but for whatever reason, the numbers it brought in didn’t do the trick–I increased the power, slowed down the laser and got less of a cut, not more.

I guess I’ll use the pins, but a worthwhile thing to put on the features list is a ‘boost’ button. If it doesn’t cost anything to do 10% extra, why not offer it as an easy option? The fact is, wood warps, and making us dance instead of the laser seems silly.

Thanks all.

Increasing both power and time-on-target should definitely cut more, not less. When was the last time you cleaned the optics?

well… never.

but I shall

worth noting that I just cut out the pins that Jules discussed plus another pass at my project and it went perfectly, on the very same piece of draftboard, with no changes to the defaults. Dropped out without a push.

analog behavior from a mostly digital device. Either the wood, the lens or both!

Not sure what material the OP is using, but I’m pretty sure all of the wood products and acrylic cut at full power, and leathers are reduced to precision power levels.

If PG settings aren’t working, then the optics should be checked. The material flatness should be checked.

Proofgrade settings are designed to give the cleanest cut (meaning just through, minimal kerf and edge soot/char). It’s a tough balance to achieve, I suppose.

Either way - the OP shouldn’t be able to increase power from default PG settings - only reduce speed.

1 Like

ROFL! That’s the part I like about this…it’s not a gumball machine. (Where’s the fun in dropping in a quarter, pressing a button and having a toy pop out? Zero challenge in that.) :grinning:

The other thing you might need to do is change the focus height on the cut. I had some PG this week that would almost cut through - I measured with calipers and found it was a tad thicker than my other PG. I changed the focus value for the cut to match the value from the calipers and then everything cut fine on that particular sheet. I wrote on the sheet to help me remember when I use the rest of it at some point.


Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your prints cutting all the way through.

Like others have mentioned, there are three important things to check to ensure successful cut through. First, your material must lie flat. This requires a clean, properly installed crumb tray and flat materials. Second, there must be no obstructions, dirt, or damage preventing the laser light from reaching your material. Third, your design must be set up properly - for example, with lines that are fully on the material and that are set to cut. It’s hard to know which issue might be affecting your print, but if you follow the instructions in the cut-through troubleshooter, we’ll be able to get to the bottom of it.

It sounds like using the pins to make sure your material lays flat has helped! If you find you are still running into trouble, please try another print. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Please print the Gift of Good Measure on that Proofgrade Draftboard and let me know the result. If it doesn’t print well, please let me know the date and time of your print and send photos of the front and back of the print.

thanks @jaz

The fact that it sometimes cuts through and sometimes doesn’t makes it clear that it’s the flatness, not the design or even the lens. I’ve found it’s MUCH more likely with big pieces than small ones.

I just bought some killer magnets and will report in if that’s not sufficient.

I don’t think a device like this should be susceptible to warped proofgrade. It should:

A: be smart enough to alert the user after a scan if it turns out the wood is warped beyond use


B. be tuned so that a little warp doesn’t lead to this sort of complete project failure. My original suggestion that it be programmed to default to dig just a little deeper costs you nothing, costs the user nothing and increases the chances that the project ends up perfectly.

Again, thanks to everyone who so generously helped with this! Magnets and lens wipes on the way.


Seems like scanning the entire surface for warping would drastically slow down job initiation. I’d much rather check it myself. And unless engineering principles have changed a whole bunch since my EE days, you can’t have a precision device that tolerates imprecise inputs. GIGO. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

but of course you can!

the entire theory of marketing the glowforge is that it’s a precise device that tolerates imprecise inputs. A CNC machine tool that costs a million dollars is dependent on a trained operator. A mac, on the other hand, is resilient in the face of wobbly mouse movements or the occasional misspelled word.

to have the machine fail in this way, and to do it often, and to put it on the user (particularly when the wood being used is coming from the maker of the machine) isn’t something to be proud of.

the key is congruence between the story you tell (this is like a toaster!) and the way the engineering delivers on this story.

last time I checked, I didn’t have to check my sliced bread for flatness before toasting it.

1 Like

You might be expecting too much. It’s possible to pull something like that off with a sharp blade (on your loaf), it’s not possible to pull uniformity off with a controlled burn on natural materials. Too many possible variables.

The Glowforge folks have optimized the beam for the smallest, neatest beam that will pierce perfectly through their materials given the assumption that the material isn’t warped, and it is laying flat.

So you might ask next…why not just lower the speed for everyone in case someone’s wood is warped? Because it changes the amount of kerf that is removed by the beam when you slow it down and the cut gets a lot sloppier. So parts will fit more loosely together, and sizes are impossible to judge. And everybody else whose wood isn’t warped screams about how lousy the fit is. And there are going to be different amounts of warp in areas with different humidity. What works for one area of the world doesn’t work everywhere.

They have to have a base line. And that’s flat. It’s up to us to make the material flat, and fortunately there are simple and effective ways to do it.

So just pin it down. Everybody using lasers has to deal with warping. Unfortunately, some of us in humid areas have to deal with it all the time. I don’t ever get to cut unwarped material. And non-proofgrade materials are a hell of a lot worse, but it’s also a given when you’re working with natural materials, so you learn to adjust for it.

Not a big deal. :wink:


I agree, @Jules it isn’t that big a deal, at all. The Glowforge is a miracle, after all.

but just as HP made it so that just about any paper will go in a printer nowadays, one needs to walk away from the glib idea of GIGO. They didn’t settle.

Of course it’ll get better. Because people won’t settle.

I dunno, this is pretty damned good. :smile:
(Nothing wrong with striving for perfection though.)

I don’t think the idea that it’s worth going to a little extra effort to provide quality input in order to achieve quality output is “glib.” I’m also pretty sure my patients appreciate that approach in my practice.

1 Like

Thanks so much for the feedback – I’ve shared it with the team. We really appreciate it!

I’m going to close this topic. If the problem reoccurs or if you have another question, please post a new one.