Cleaner cut thru

The 1st part of this Comes from @jbmanning5

You get a much cleaner and less charred cut when you switch from full power to 100 precision power and to passes. You can also increase then the speed slightly. An example is one that usually cots at full power with 1 pass at a 155 speed I increased the speed to 170 with the 2 passes. This also seems to reduce the kerf.

The 2nd part of this tip I discovered on accident. I was having trouble trying to cut through quarter inch Baltic Birch plywood. It was 5 ply. I did use similar settings as above only at a 150 speed. I would a lot of times get small spots that didn’t cut through.

One time I went to cut and it cut through perfectly and I realized I accidentally left the focused distance at 0.10" instead of .25"

Hope this helps!

Thanks JB!


Sounds good! Easy tips to deal with it. :slightly_smiling_face:


My biggest reason for 2 passes (or even 3 on 1/4 BB) is the smaller kerf and that it doesn’t ruin photo paper. To set up 2 passes, I figure out the speed at full power I need, then go to 2 passes and modify the speed until it’s approximately the same time as 1 pass.


Do you lower the focal point, or leave it at the surface?

1 Like

I appreciate the tips but we need to be explicit about what material we are talking about as I have found that some materials respond well to full power and one pass, on the other hand there is one thing that I cut in three passes and quite low power.


Sorry, I was thinking chipboard for puzzles, in my question to @jbmanning5. In retrospect there was no way for anyone else to know that, though. (Except @timjedwards. He always knows what I’m thinking.)

1 Like

Besides paper and acrylic, I have found this method works for all wood and plywood including proofgrade.

A big factor is char itself. A laser has trouble with char. It’s like a huge block.

Re: puzzles, for chipboard, at the surface (.09” with print attached). For 1/4” Baltic birch, I go down to .208” compared to thickness of .240” or so


If you weren’t doing your own photo printing, what service would you use to process your digital files and paper choice? Also, what do you use for gluing them down? I vaguely remember that you may have addressed this before. I remember you telling us what awesome (but unattainable for me) printer you use.

1 Like

I used a few labs for my printing before, depending on who was giving specials at the time. Bay Photo, Nations Photo Lab, Miller’s, Adorama a few times. The printing services field is very competitive so they are always offering different deals.

But, I had to buy a printer because there is no way I could buy the prints from a lab, puzzle them up, and make money.

Oops, jumped the gun. :slight_smile:

Any of those labs are great, but expensive… if you go with them, you can have a choice of paper - at least finish. I use a Canon luster which is between a matte and glossy - and pretty thick (10 mil paper). I’m going to experiment more with this because there are so many amazing papers out there. The metallic stuff can be amazing with the right print (I cut some as a test when I first got the Glowforge and I didn’t like the result - I think I could do it better now though).

What makes the printing more affordable is that I’m buying rolls of paper rather than sheets. I think Epson makes a desktop printer that will take 17” rolls.

For gluing, I ended up going with an automated gluer.

The spray adhesive is a pain to use (in my opinion) and it’s super expensive. The gluer above costs a few bucks but it dropped my glue cost to a few cents a puzzle.


So it wasn’t a quality issue, it was margin. I would think it would also be more convenient. I bought a die sublimation printer once. Just not up for that at this point.

Definitely not a quality issue. Just margins. I wish I had the printers those guys use but they are about $$$$$ out of my budget lol.

I haven’t printed long, but my understanding is we are really just getting to where “at-home” printing can begin to compare at all to what the printer guys use. I picked up a Canon Pro-2000. It’s expensive but not absurd.

I’m not sure what the print costs would run with paper and ink but printers like the Canon Pro 100 are only about $350-400. That does 13x19”. And I mentioned the Epson above. I think it’s $1100-1200.

And yes, way more convenient. I can print on demand instead of either ordering in bulk or ordering prints on demand, which would take a few days.


I have the Canon Pro 100 that I use for photography. I get great results from it, but I’m obviously not using it in the same way you do.

2 Likes is kinda the retail version of Miller’s (same company) and they have some interesting photo products available.

With most of the printers, the savings come if you can gang-run your orders so they can load it and run off a load of 'em. There are also printers like that print for the trade, basically a wholesale service bureau but they also do semi-short run as well. Example: 100 12"x18" posters at $174 or 500 of them for $195.


I hate how printers do that lol. 100 for 174, or 500 for 195. Or - hey, wait. How about 1,000? Look at how much you’ll save!

Stuck with 768 posters…


Yeah… consider that I used to charge a range of $300-$600 just for creating poster artwork, and then I charged double the printing cost to my clients, they would do the math and just go for the 1,000 copies cause they’re already fairly invested.


That’s a fairly common technique for thicker materials in the laser world. Actually many people think you should always set the focus halfway through the material. That puts the tightest part of the beam midway through the material and minimize the kerf on the bottom.

I asked Dan about that early on and he said they focus it on the top and found no significant advantage to following the traditional mid-thickness focusing practice. But for 1/4" Baltic Birch I’ve found it still does. For PG I can understand it likely wouldn’t because it’s fully homogeneous between the veneers. For BB you still have multiple plies and glue layers.


I Used to have to lower it a fraction of an inch each time when using my 2.8w diode laser to cut through 16th inch basswood. I know what you mean.

That adhesive coater is awesome!!

It makes life much easier! And you have no idea how hard it is to find something like that, that’s not a full-on industrial-type machine. At least, in my experience.

People are using the 3M-adhesive sprays. I just had trouble with them. You have to lay the print out perfect; no room for error. They are expensive. You have to apply the glue perfectly. It didn’t work well in the colder months (I refuse to spray that stuff inside).