Cardboard United States- Help with a class project


I am fairly new to glowforge, and I am hoping to have my students use the laser cutter to cut out outlines of their states. They would then add a circuit to the back so we could have LEDs light up the capital, a river, or an attraction.

Ideally, each state will have scrapbook paper on the cardboard (like in the attached picture), but I am worried about my students being able to cut the detailed outlines. Would I be able to glue the scrabook paper onto the cardboard BEFORE doing the laser cutting? Has anyone tried this before?

If so, do you have any recommendations for the settings? Being fairly new, and in a school, I am certainly wanting to avoid any catastrophes! :slight_smile: 20190316_101710


If you are using something like Mod Podge, you can absolutely glue first and then cut. As with all flammables, keeping a close eye on it while cutting is advisable.


Yeah, that shouldn’t be a problem. Look for paper and cardboard cutting settings in the Beyond the Manual section, use the cardboard settings, and do not take your eyes off of it while it’s cutting. (Especially if you are using corrugated cardboard. Fires start in it very easily.)

If you are cutting small pieces that might shift or fly in the air assist, use a sticky mat. (Seklema sells one, or you can make your own with Krylon #7020 Repositionable Adhesive sprayed onto a very flat sheet of thin scrap plywood. Couple of coats. Let it dry completely between coats and after. Refresh with a single coat as needed.)

Be sure to take the thickness of both the mat and the material into account when you are setting the thickness information for the cut. (And it would probably be a good idea to do some pre-testing before you let the kids tackle it.)


Also, probably not an issue, but I would make sure to use a laser-safe glue


Why I recommended Mod Podge, though Elmer’s should also be safe. Pretty close to the same thing.


One issue I see in that photo you posted is that a lot of the embellishments appear to be only partially adhered and are sticking up a bit. You need to be aware of the fact that layers of paper with an air gap between them is considerably more risky than fully glued down layers. It’s why corrugated cardboard is riskier to cut in a laser than chipboard. The space between the layers can feed a fire. So if you are doing this, be sure to stand over your machine with a damp rag in hand, ready to toss it in and douse the fire if it flares up.


Thank you, everyone! I am planning on having students only adhere the background layer of scrapbook before we laser cut the shapes. Then afterwards, they will add the embellishments and circuits.

I’m still a little nervous, but this was definitely helpful! Thanks!


Okay, I have my stack of 50 corrugated cardboard sheets ready with scrapbook paper fully adhered on using modge podge…

Any other tips for when a flare up happens? I will stand and watch it- I have a spray bottle full of water, a damp rag, and a fire extinguisher ready if necessary… If there is a flare up, and I put it out quickly, can I continue the cut afterwards? Or would I need to use new material?

Do I need to unplug the glowforge before throwing the rag in? Or can I just lift the lid?

As you can tell, I’m nervous about damaging our school’s beautiful new glowforge! :slight_smile:

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Just watch it closely. If a flame gets to be more than candle-sized and doesn’t go out momentarily, just punch the button to pause while it dies out, and then punch again to continue.

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