Hi! I just received my Glowforge a week ago. So far I have made 2 cuts (Yippee). I now want to try etching. I went to 5Below and purchase one of their bound leather-like/ vinyl journals. I would like to etch my name on it but I’m not sure what settings to use (I do not want the paper inside the journal to catch fire). Please help me.

Do not engrave on anything unless you are absolutely sure of what the material is made of . Vinyl will ruin your machine. Do not cut or engrave vinyl.


Thanks for letting me know. If I purchase a leather-bound journal do you know how I could etch on it?

Leather-like is not leather. It’s unlikely anything from a dollar store is genuine leather.

Nobody can tell you what will work best with your material. Once you have determined the material is safe, here is one methodology to determining appropriate settings.

There are many existing discussions on leather, and you can always use the default leather settings as a starting point.


Welcome to the forum As @dklgood says, vinyl is not good at all for a laser. Releases nasty gasses that destroys the machine.

Have you gone through the first three prints? How much have you read up on the forum in doing beginner stuff?

Etching refers to the engraving function of the laser. You use filled vector shapes or bitmaps to get engraves. Start with low power and high speed and test away.

Real leather works well, but sometimes it is tanned in such a way that it isn’t suitable. Recommended is naturally tanned.

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Yes. Veg tanned leather is safe to cut and engrave. Utilizing the search function here in the forum (the magnifying glass above) will provide you with lots of examples and settings. I encourage you to read through all of the topics here:

The section on manual modes will be helpful to you. Also, if you do find leather journal or laser safe journals like these from Johnson Plastics Plus, are people here in the forum that will help you dial in your settings.

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I’ve read though a lot of the material and watched a video from the Salt Make City guys and they said not to cut on vinyl, but I associated what they were talking about as the vinyl from a record, not clothing. There is a free print for leather, but my machine would not detect the proof grade material.

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You can just select the type of leather from the material drop down menu if the Glowforge does not detect proofgrade material.

Start with the built in engrave setting for one of the proofgrade leathers. Watch the laser carefully, some leathers, while real and not vinyl, are soaked with oils for a finish. Use Set Focus to ensure good image placement, if you haven’t calibrated your lid camera yet I’d do that first.

Bad vinyl for lasers is anything containing PVC, the C part is what makes it bad, chlorine. Vinyl fabrics, “leatherette”, sticky sign vinyl, records, they all contain PVC. Heat transfer vinyl is a misnamed exception as its actually polyurethane, as some faux leathers are, often called PU leather.

If you’re not absolutely sure, please don’t risk it.


Two things to never do on a Glowforge,. Vinyl and fire. As little as one engraving on vinyl can have everything metallic look like you got it out of an acid bath as you did. If you see a little flame where it is cutting that does not stay as the laser moves on, that place will not cut as deep but your machine will still work. If the flame starts and goes off on its own it can very quickly look like you had a bomb in your machine. A few of each case have shown up on the forum and they are not pretty.

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Use these simple tests for leather safety

Copper wire test… easy way to determine if PVC or Vinyl


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