Cutting wood (limitations/expectations)

I’m debating getting a CNC machine (such as an X-Carve) to work with wood (and I also am waiting on Glowforge shipment). Reading the cutting ability FAQ question, I can figure out that my goal of cutting 18mm wood is more CNC and less Glowforge, but here’s what the FAQ says:

Glowforge performs well with many materials 1/4" and less on a single pass. It can accommodate material as thick as 1/2", but may require multiple passes or flipping the material over.

So, just to set my expectations here with this application, my example 18mm wood MAY be able to be cut [very slowly] with a flip-over and the registration would work?

Image shows 1/4" and 1/2" in millimeters (Ignore width of gap, I’m just talking about a straight cut.)


Get a cnc if you want to cut 18 mm. Maybe you can get through but cnc will do much better.


Yeah, I guess I’m trying to save both money and SPACE, since I’m just in a house. I’m still not even sure if this stuff is going to be too loud to work in here, but giving it a try.


Never underestimate redesign to work with materials you can effectively cut.


The X-Carve is reasonably quiet. The attached router is LOUD. Would recommend the smaller X-Carve or a Carvey if you don’t need to do big stuff. The 1000mm is bigger than you think. Doesn’t matter what the tape measure says. It will still surprise you.


Thanks. The longest wood I’d ever cut [currently, anyway] is under 20". Right now, I’m wanting to get out of my current limit of my 120mm 3d printer bed and into real materials (I’m cutting up all my designs to fit just so I can make them and it’s gotten ridiculous.)

I guess I need to budget for one and hope the neighbors don’t complain. :smiley:


If you are working in the house noise won’t be your biggest problem. A couple of walls and some insulation cuts it way down. Dust is your biggest problem.


Yeah, no kidding. It was way bigger that it seemed when I measured. Plus add dust collection, Tavel, x controller, and it’s huge


Also remember that 18mm is possible with a cnc router, but it’s not necessarily the kind of thing you do in one pass if you want high accuracy.

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Not to mention in anything remotely hard, like hardwood, you’d have to slow way, way down for feed to make sure you don’t snap the mill, which would likely cause burning on the wood. Foam and balsa sure, maybe a very soft pine?

This is an understatement. If I had stuck with the 500mm like I had originally ordered, I’d probably still own an XCarve.

To me, the loudest part was the vacuum. I used a regular shop vac at first, but the noise was really reduced when I bought a Festool Mini CT vacuum. The variable speed control on the CT made a world of difference.


The CNC and Laser are two different tools that have a small set of intersecting capabilities for which either might work. But many projects can only be done with one or the other. The biggest drawback for me with the CNC was that you can not make sharp inside cuts. Even the smallest bit is very large compared to the kerf of a laser and so inside cuts are rounded.


I was thinking of a good plywood a la This is just for funsies. I can laser embellish some end parts. Hoping, anyway. No clue what I’m doing yet.

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I use a Rigid 16gal shop vac with a cyclonic dust collector between them (otherwise your shop vac filter lasts exactly one small MDF job) with static dissipation (very, very. very important). I don’t do enough to justify another like the festool which is a great vac.


If I was in a locked room with a Glowforge and had to cut a door handle out of 18mm plywood to get out, I’m pretty sure I could do it. But it’s designed for use up to 1/2", no more, and then only certain materials.


And the winner for Most Absurd Glowforge Use Case Scenario goes to…!


So now I’m looking for a hypothetical step-by-step, including building the jigs to get the 18mm ply down into the right focus range :smiling_imp:

If you had a FSL Muse you could hold it against the door and laser a hole through it :grinning:


Or throw it against the door :smirk:


Eventually “sandblasting” the door with the little pieces will get through…:smirk: