Bad Walnut?

This is NOT what I expect from a $20 piece (Joann price) of Proofgrade Walnut. My Red Oak came out beautifully. I have my studio grand opening in 12 hours and now this whole line of ornements is out of commision. I’m ready to cry. I just don’t have the time to exacto these out of here, and look at the breakage… :sob::sob::sob:

Red Oak:

Oak is particularly dirty to cut and if you cut that and did not clean the lenses or at least check them all and then run a whole sheet of tiny breakable designs with out trying a few out first. And do all this in a rush just before an important event is to laugh at Murphy and kick sand in his face.

Murphy will always get the last laugh.


That said, you certainly could have a bad piece of wood. Rare, but it happens… I mean, wood is naturally imperfect, so as much as one might try to produce a perfect sheet, results can vary. I see you have space on that sheet. After cleaning, try a controlled test on that spot. Gift Of Good Measure will put the wood through its paces. See what result you get.

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Which is why you should test each sheet out first. Just last night I had to cut 10 tiny hinges so I cut 12 and before moving the wood tested how easily they came out, when they did not I could run another pass to make sure they did

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That stinks! It also looks like the board may have been slightly warped (this will happen with any wood). Was it pinned down? Looks like the edges cut and the middle didn’t.

If you’ve got expensive wood and/or a time crunch, always:

  1. Clean frequently
  2. Pin down materials and make sure they are absolutely flat
  3. Check that all the pieces are cut before removing them from the bed (the pins help keep things from moving while you do this)

Ideally, also test each material (they cut differently) and have backup wood, but that’s not always feasible.

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I’m honestly impressed with your patience doing that! Me? I wanna cut. I wanna cut what I want and that’s that. So I just do. :slight_smile: Honestly I think I’ve had maybe 3 bad pieces in all the time I’ve had my unit. Always sucks, but eh… I survive.

Wow. Way to treat somebody trying to help you. I’ll be sure I don’t try to help you further in the future.


With new material I always run one of these If I was cutting 4 or five sheets of walnut, I might go with cutting the whole sheet by the third sheet but would be certain it was cutting more overcut than undercut. Plywood except for maybe Baltic Birch I would not cut lots at once as they all can have nasty surprises.


Unfortunately, it’s part of the learning curve that each person has to experience for themselves, so I wouldn’t get too upset about it. (We’ve all done the same thing multiple times.)

There’s just no way to be absolutely sure something is going to cut through 100% of the time, even with Proofgrade materials. (And it’s very unfortunate that it happened for you right before a show, so that’s got to sting.) :anguished:

Going forward, you aren’t going to have the same thing happen, because you’re going to pin the material down, every time, even if it looks flat, even if it’s Proofgrade, because even Proofgrade can warp and bow a little bit in different humidities. And when you release the strain inside of wood by cutting things out of it…it warps. (It just does better than most other wood provided elsewhere.)

These free Honeycomb pins can be cut very easily from scraps, and they do an excellent job of pinning the material down flat so that the chances for complete cut through are dramatically increased.

And you’re going to check for complete cut-through using one of these Vinyl Weeding Picks before you move the material so that you can send a second cut to finish the cut before removing it from the bed if you have to.


It’s one of the best $5 accessory purchases for the machine that I’ve found…I use it to check for cut through every time I use the machine, and stopped losing material to incomplete cuts.

Another way to go, which some people prefer to do, particularly if they live in a high humidity area, or if they have recently entered a high humidity season, is to just slow down the cutting speed by about 5-10 points. Going just a little bit slower leaves the beam in contact with the material longer and burns a little more material away. Don’t overdo it or you will widen the kerf too much.
(Slowing the speed is often necessary for tight detailed designs to make sure the machine has enough time to cut all the way through…you don’t want to go too fast on those, and even the defaults can be too fast for certain designs.)

Hope you have better luck with the next cuts. Those tips should help.


Ooh the pins are super handy…and i have a whole set of dental tools already that do most of my work. infact thats what i was using from behind to push these out gently and slowly. i think the time that took, adn that things broke anywas what set me off more than anything. i will definetly do the in bed test for cuts though. from now on.

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You do realize these people trying to help you are other forum members and not official GF staff don’t you?


The not cutting all the way thing can be many things, but I have sent pictures to GF support and gotten a refund before. Also I have found that ply tends to be stronger for delicate cuts. Hard wood tends to be brittle and break easily.


Yeah, that’ll do it! (I need to get some dental tools…the only thing I don’t like about the pick above is that the handles take up so much space in the can I’ve got it stuck into for storage.)

There’s no need to get snarky with other users trying to be helpful. :frowning_face: There are a lot of really experienced and helpful people on this forum, and you can learn a lot if you’re willing to consider that maybe when things go wrong it’s not always the fault of the wood or the machine.

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Testing on basswood won’t tell you anything about cutting on walnut.


@snikkidee_7, I’m so sorry about the trouble when trying to print on Proofgrade Walnut. I can imagine that it’s stressful so close to your studio opening. Thank you for providing detailed information and photos of the issue.

Did this occur with more than one sheet of material? If possible, would you please measure the thickness of any sheets which you ran into trouble with and let me know what you find?

Also, please let me know if the advice which @Jules provided gets you up and printing for now. In addition to the advice they shared, I would like to look at a test print from your unit to check if everything is printing normally. I’ll understand if you’d like to wait until you have time.

Here are the steps for the test print:

  1. Turn off your Glowforge, then turn it back on
  2. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Place Proofgrade Draftboard in the bed and load the Gift of Good Measure design.
  3. Set the score and engrave steps to ‘ignore.’ Print the Gift of Good measure using the default settings. Allow the print to finish.
  4. When the print finishes, leave the lid closed and wait until the fans stop and the picture of the bed updates.
  5. Check the completed print:
    • If the Gift of Good Measure fails to cut, please let us know the date and time of the print
  • If the Gift of Good Measure cuts successfully, please try another print of the design you saw the issue with, and let us know the results.
  1. If the issue still occurs, please let us know the date and time of the finished print.

In addition to the time and date of the test print, if the Gift of Good Measure doesn’t cut through successfully, please provide photos of the front and back of the test and we’ll review everything and follow up with next steps. Thank you!


I’ve had a problem with the last couple of sheets of walnut I have tried. I reported it to Support, too.

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Sorry, had a few inappropriate comments that assumed operator error on settings…and the point of PG is that the settings are not messed with. nothing personal.

We know, from long experience, what things will trip up beginning users. The fact you did not know the difference between the small (hardwood) and large (plywood) boards, and that you tested on basswood for a cut to be done on walnut, and that you assumed a piece of hardwood was perfectly flat and didn’t need to be pinned down told me you probably don’t know a lot yet about working with wood, and other experienced users probably got the same message. We were helping you eliminate possibilities beyond your assumption that something was wrong with the walnut.

The learning curve will be a lot steeper if you’re not open to the idea that there might be something you don’t know that could have contributed to your problem.


You are right. Proofgrade settings imply that they should work in general without too much difficulty. With the usual caveats of clean optics and flat material one shouldn’t have to worry.

In fact, Proofgrade is fairly consistent but I think that the default settings are a bit too narrow to take into consideration humidity and a few other more esoteric factors. And especially if it is an all wood sheet (inaptly named hardwood) versus plywood, there are even more chances to not cut through. For example, thick acrylic has a wide variation of thicknesses that you really don’t notice until you get that certain design with that certain application use.

I find that full sheets prints of objects have more of a tendency to not cut through in certain spots, for whatever reason. That is purely anecdotal. If I am cutting a full sheet of designs and I can live with a wider kerf, I will slow it down about five points for cutting. This is especially true if there are lots of intricate cuts. And even then, I use the hold down pins and take a dental pick and ensure the swarf drops through all over before I move the sheet.

Sorry you had such a bad experience on these designs and especially getting ready for an opening. I am very much a supporter of Glowforge and I think anyone who does a good amount of crafting or hobby making could benefit from at least a Basic. But marketing and published design specs have a much wider window of planned use that meets the bell curve of reality and the long tail of failure.

Good luck on the gallery!


I used 1 sheet. the bass prior and red oak after were fine.
3.6mm is the walnut thickness
the gift of good measure cut fine.
I will test another piece of hardwood later. though my other sheet is .3mm thinner at 3.3. my red oak and basswood are also 3.3mm

@geek2nurse your assumptions are inaccurate. I am new to glowforge. which is billed as their proofgrade materials as being fairly operator error proof and consistent. It is not until you get into the nitty gritty of this forum is it shown that true research and art is still required. My resume with woodwork spans more that 30 years. I have taken more than enough flak about this being a user error today, thank you for your help, but please don’t assume you know a user’s history.

Clearly, the inconsistency in the thickness of the hardwood is the problem. From now on, I will measure the thickness of the PG same as everything else.