I find myself wishing I had my Glowforge and yet realizing it cannot (at this time) perform the task that I really need it for.
I make handcrafted pens and have long wished for a way to do more that just engrave a single line of text on a pen body.
Until recently that was only possible with those engravers costing tons of money and with nothing but horror stories concerning laser tubes, chillers and belts.
Now that a jig has been devised to rotate a pen barrel while engraving it with one of the 1000mw Chinese engravers, and I have seen no one come up with a way to rotate an object in the GF, I’m wondering if the GF is the way to go.
The cheap Chinese engravers are notoriously lacking in longevity but I can purchase 40 or more of the cheapos for what I paid for the GF.
Hoping somebody comes up with a solution so I can justify my original decision.


Did you see this a few months ago?

And there has been much discussion about automating the turning with Arduino, etc. I’m sure somebody is working on it.


Beat me to it.

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Blame the spell checker.


It’s a word i’ve heard discussed a lot lately, so it jumped right out at me! :smiley:


What @cynd11 said. We have a way to index rotary engraving in :glowforge:, and the community is figuring ways to automate it. That’s also just one rotary indexing idea pushed out by one member of the community. When the whole community has their units, I’d expect even more ideas tested and in place.

I’m thinking especially with Pro pass-through slot, could probably jig up a few dozen pens at a time. That is impressive production even if the rotation is forced to be manual.

As an aside, I’m in for a 2nd Amendment pen.

I have been kicking around the idea of asking some of the awesome makers at Maker Faire to solve this problem for me. I’m sure there are folks who could knock this out with a custom solution that is totally self contained that would fit in the bed of a Glowforge without the crumb tray. The question of timing the rotation and positioning is not trivial, but there are folks who could do this. And @karaelena would be one of them.


If all your looking for is to engrave pens then yes I think a Glowforge is more machine than you need.

But by having a Glowforge I bet you will find many ways to increase the value and creativity in your product. Just while I’m typing this I can think of checkered grips, deep 3D engraving of logos and names, inlay work, metal marking, and even gluing different types of wood together that are Glowforge cut close to the pen shape.

Not even getting into custom made cases.


Have you thought about just laser etching/cutting thin and flexible wood veneer in large quantities with the Glowforge then assemble them with the pens afterward?





Its definitely possible. Soon as I get a straight shootin forge ill have somethin to show ya


Could you tell where you ordered the rotator from or make on it? I have one of those cheap lasers that I got just to play with. If I can put it to good use, id like to.

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To be fair the in-Glowforge rotation gadget only works if we get the automagical partial-cut-image alignment functions that have been discussed. As far as I can tell no one has demonstrated the Glowforge actually doing this yet. The office is still tuning basic engraving features and it wasn’t that long ago that we saw pictures of PRU-made items with alignment issues. In-cut autofocus isn’t even turned on yet. I think it is wishful thinking to believe that engraving on a pen as OP wants will “just work” any time soon. If that is his main need for a laser, isn’t it totally kosher to say he should look at other options?

If OP is happy manually aligning every segment of a job, then sure, the GF can do it. But that sounds like a PITA and prone to error.

I am still patiently waiting for my GF Pro, and haven’t complained once about any of the delays, but I’m also not wearing rose-tinted glasses. Some things aren’t working yet and we really can’t be sure of the schedule.


Not true. Ive made it work without that.

it wont be necessary


I saw your video and it looked like you were putting copies of one image around the object, and aligning by hand each time. How is OP going to etch that butterfly, seamlessly, around the barrel of the pen? Can he do that on a GF today? Autofocus doesn’t even work today. I am sure GF will be able to do that eventually but who can really say when?


You just be referring to karaelenas video, as I havent posted anything in regards to my rotary.

I have a completely different method that will work perfectly. The max diameter of an item to be engraved will be under 2" but that is a glowforge limitation, not mine. Should easily be enough for a pen though!


Any DIY solution to getting rotation in a Glowforge can likely also be done to any other laser engraver, possibly more easily, and the process could be started sooner.


Yeah, I got you two mixed up. I do look forward to seeing your indexing technique, but still maintain that as of this minute the GF does not seem to be the best option for @lcronkite.


The design I’ve come up with should work as well as any other rotary out there as long as the object is not over 2". That being said it obviously can’t do mugs and glasses etc. i have a v2 concept in the works which would account for that, but it’ll only work if I’m able to get a 90 deg mirror to attach to the head. Haven’t even tried yet, but will after my gf ships.