Etching or cutting paper - Which do you recommend?

So I tried to look here in the forum for an answer to this, but I was not able to find an answer (maybe I overlooked it).
But there it is… Do you rather Etch paper or cut the paper to get same results? Reason I ask is if you etch the paper there is no debris left stuck in the tray… and it will not get blown around inside the GF while cutting.

I’d love to hear from you guys on this and if you have comparison images, please post them.

Thanks for your input! Always appreciated.

There has been quite a bit of discussion on this in the forums. You can likely find some of it by searching on appropriate terms in combination (e.g., paper, engrave, vector cut).

Both approaches are workable. Vector cutting is faster. Engraving can create finer detail.

You can adjust for the problem of blowing bits of paper with a work hold-down solution like a Seklema Mat from Johnson Plastics or, a piece of draft board or other flat, even heavy stock coated with repositionable adhesive (available as a spray).

Depending on your design, there are potentially issues with overburn of corners and sharp turns in vector cuts. Solutions for that have also been discussed at length here and, include creating lead-ins and outs, rounding features in your design, etc.


I am all for the repositionable adhesive.

For simple straightish lines I go with cuts, but for anything seriously complicated and fiddly I tend to go with engraves because I don’t have to worry about how long the head is spending in any particular area. Btw, I usually just engrave edges, so I still have the weeding/blowing problem.


i would say it depends on what you are trying to accomplish!
I made a paper collar today, for the stray cat who lives in my yard. I etched the text and cut the outline. I have perf-cut settings dialed in on the printer paper I have been using, so it just barely cuts through but stays attached almost all the way around and doesnt blow away. Comes out of the page with a little tug. I have a second sheet of sacrificial paper underneath to prevent flashback.


Love your tag, and your solution to the flyaway problem!


printer paper for a cat collar? does that last longer than an hour? Time for some mylar…

Very thoughtful thing you’re doing to help the cat find a home.


I also have found settings that leave a perforation to help with the cleanup, burns, and flyaways. I’d say it depends on the look you’re going for, because both are nice. For example, I just made some thank you cards that were cut and then glued to another sheet of cardstock


I typically engrave on the cardstock, and it is so much more time consuming if you’re doing a lot; here’s an example of my usual stuff which takes about an hour and a half to do a full sheet, whereas the cutouts up there took about 7mins to do a sheet :scream:



Thanks guys for all you input here… I suppose it really is a matter of application.
You guys have made some super nice stuff and I appreciate all the help!

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the paper collar is meant to tear off without hurting the kitteh if it gets snagged on something.


Would you mind sharing your settings? Been having a tough time with this one!

Sure, I made a topic on it recently:

The only thing I should add is that I used thicker cardstock, so if you’re using regular, I found cutting the power down to about 35 works better.


I needed a quick stencil today and the only thin I had was plain white index cards… I used the cut settings speed150, power 10 at 2 passes. worked great and did not burn the edges to much.
As I said… this was a quicky and I am sure that these settings could be adjusted to make the paper not burn at all. Maybe I will play with the settings tomorrow and repost if I get better results.


Fabulous, thank you!

my question is:
I am playing with 65lb card at .01"… if I use the spray adhesive, do I include the thickness of my backing as well? Will that not effect the result of the cut?

Yep, if you have some kind of backer board you include that thickness so that the camera can do the perspective correction properly.

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I would suggest anyone working with a Glowforge go to Home Depo and invest in a CALIPER. This will help you measure the thickness of any material you want to use, specially if you add adhesive backing to it.