Hello! You’ve been referred to this post because you have a common problem or question. Check out the list below to see what this post can do for you. Just click on a topic that interests you.
1: I'm new to Glowforge and really have no idea where to start
Hey, welcome to the forum!
Glowforge has a getting started page, it’s definitely worth your time:
When you’re ready for even more info, you’ll find everything in here interesting and useful, read through it and everything it links to.
If you like to learn via video, check out this thread by @polarbrainfreeze, he’s one of the most expert users on the forum:
1a: What other tools/materials should I buy to go with my Glowforge?
Owning a Glowforge is the beginning, there are many tools and accessories that can be really useful. Here’s a roundup of good threads about this.
As for materials, there are so many to choose from that there’s no single answer for “where can I get materials?” The good news is that there are many threads to choose from, just search for things like “hardwood source” or “material suppliers”, and you’ll find lots of information.
Here are some common searches:
Search results for 'material source' - Glowforge Owners Forum
2: I want to find masking/tape to cover my materials
Cash is king here. Click through for a recommendation for inexpensive masking material.
3: I want to design/make a box
There are lots of sites that help you create boxes,here’s a listing.
Is there a free box building website - #3 by evansd2
4: What materials are dangerous to laser?
The main ways to damage your machine with a material are through fire, melting, or chemical reaction.
Layered materials like cardboard and stacked papers can be fire hazards. Some foams are prone to fire. Acrylic is prone to fire. There are good reasons why Glowforge insists that you monitor the machine when it’s cutting, fire is at the top of the list. Search the forum any time you’re trying a new material, chances are someone’s tried it or will have advice.
Lots of plastics aren’t great candidates for lasering, they melt rather than cut. HDPE (think milk jugs or soda bottles) is a prime example. It’s possible to laser it, but it’s quite melty and you could end up with a mess.
Cutting PVC–aka vinyl or polyvinyl chloride–forms acids inside your Glowforge and will kill your machine, possibly the very first time you cut it. The bottom line is that you should never use it. There is a lot of discussion on the forum:
Search results for 'PVC damage' - Glowforge Owners Forum
Some (not many) materials reflect laser light, copper is a well known example. Cutting or engraving reflective materials could theoretically cause your laser to bounce back at your Glowforge and damage it. I’ve never seen this actually happen to anyone, but it’s a good idea to just avoid copper altogether. If you’re not sure if a material might reflect CO2 laser light, search the forum and the internet at large.
A nice roundup of things to look out for.
5: Why won't my laser cut through my material?
Not sure about why, but this is how you troubleshoot it.
An excellent guide from GF support:
Check your lens orientation.
Plywood is sometimes inconsistent, especially if you buy it from a big box retail store. Here’s a trick that might help you figure out if your plywood has problems.
6: I don't know what settings to use to cut my material
It’s fast and easy to test. Click the link for more info.
If you want to look at a list of materials, feel free, but beware these settings are just estimates. Testing is much better in the long run. Anyway, here you go:
7: Are there any tricks to removing masking from lots of parts?
Yes, there are!
8: How do I design finger joints?
The easiest way is with a box generator, see above in #3. If you want to do something more custom, read this thread:
And especially this bit about designing your own finger joints:
Variations of finger joints - #48 by evansd2
9: My photo engrave isn’t turning out well. How do I prepare a photo for engraving?
There’s no simple one-size-fits-all answer to this, but there are some best practices to follow. There have been several good posts about the subject, collected here:
10: I really like a design I see here, should I ask for the files?
No, you shouldn’t. It’s against forum rules to ask for a design file. For more information: