Cutting Poplar wood

I understand this is an old thread but I’m hoping possibly you have a moment to help? I am brand new and I’m very confused about using product that wasn’t purchased through glow Forge. As a trial, I have a half inch piece of poplar in my machine. I must be entering my settings completely wrong because I’m trying to cut a circle to do as a test and it’s coming up with an eight second runtime which I know cannot be true. would you possibly be able to help me walk through Settings? Here is what I have tried but has not worked: using 1/2” poplar

  1. Insert an outline of a circle.
  2. Chose use uncertified material.
  3. Enter .5
  4. Enter settings Focus height .5 inches number of passes one speed 500 power 20. So set on cut.
  5. Click print and it comes up with a 5 second run time and obviously does not actually cut the wood.

Really confused and I don’t know where else to turn. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Did you try to cut it? Also, you do not say how big the circle is. if it is 1 inch diameter that is a 3.14" long cut. If the diameter is 0.1" then the cut is .314" long. I would not let the time dissuade me from trying it and see what happens

My setting was cut and I did hit print and it only engraved the wood. I do have it set on cut. I also ran it with three passes and it’s still only in graved. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong?

You’ve opened a support ticket by posting in Problems and Support, but they can’t help you with non-PG materials. I’m going to move this over to Beyond the Manual, where we’re allowed to discuss non-PG settings without upsetting the Friendly Neighborhood Lawyers. :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for taking the time to do that. I am new and did not know I had it in the wrong place. Appreciate the help

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Speed 500 with a power of 20 isn’t going to do more than score your wood. If it’s a half inch thick you’re going to have to get a lot more aggressive to get through it. I’d suggest using a test template like the one in the link below and experimenting with different settings to see what’s going to work best. I’d start with full power and try various speeds, gradually going slower to see what it’s going to take. (I suspect you’ll need multiple passes due to the thickness of your wood–if you place the test on the edge of your material you can get an idea of how deep the cuts are going, and how many times you’ll need to repeat them.)


Just to set some expectations:

Half inch wood is theoretically possible, but I personally wouldn’t try.

This level of laser is best with 1/8" woods – maybe 1/4" – depending on your requirements, the wood species, and your tolerance for char. While you might be able to work through 1/2" poplar, I wouldn’t recommend it.

That being said, half inch poplar… you could cut it into shape traditionally with a saw and do vary power engraves on it to get really cool pieces.


Thank you so much for setting correct expectations for me. It sounds like this machine does so much more when they’re selling it to you then it actually doesn’t reality. I was brand new to laser having a background with professional Embroidery.

Thank you actually your reply is teaching me a lot. I appreciate the fact that you took the time out of your day to help me

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So I took your suggestion and played with the speed and power and it worked just fine. I can’t believe I finally resolved an issue ha ha! Thanks again for the help


Like you I wandered in here with zero experience, you will get the hang of it quickly. :+1:
This place is full of help!

The machine works well for what it is designed for, and that thickness is at the top end of its ability.
Please be sure to share pictures of your work with us! :sunglasses:


No problem, we’ve all been there! :slight_smile:

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I am not aware that Glowforge has ever suggested or stated that the machine could cut through 1/2"wood from one side. I recall them saying that you would cut half way through from the first side, flip and finish by cutting from the other side. That sounds like a miracle to pull that off.

But, numerous people here have successfully cut 1/2" material and even 3/4". Like @evansd2, I would not bother even trying thicker than 1/4" unless I had a very compelling reason to.


I ended up making this with some trial and error. I went down to 3mm. Thanks to everyone for the assistance!


Most of what I have I cut from 1/4 inch thick wood, I do a lot of 3d “relief carving” engraving and it is hard to get decent depth with 1/8-inch wood, while 3/8 to a half-inch can bring very nice results though not every species will stand up to what it takes to cut that thick. Maple and Walnut I have found to be best at it and Poplar does very well for as light and soft as it is.
I am not sure but I think this is poplar,



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