I set up my Glowforge on Tuesday when my filter showed up. So far I’ve done 3 items all on the maple plywood, on 2 different days, and the smoke seems to be getting sucked down into the compact filter, but there’s an easily detectable smell of the wood burning. It smells like a campfire. No visible smoke or anything in the room though. Is this normal?

There is always a little whiff of campfire smell when you open up the lid, but the main culprit is the residue that remains on the masking after you burn something. Remove the masking promptly after the job, and pop it into a ziploc bag…really cuts down on the lingering odors.

This isn’t when I open the lid. it’s the entire time it’s running. And after the one I just finished there was all this residue all over the glass.

Have you turned up the dial on the front of the filter by about a third of the distance to the right? (“New” is actually off - it’s an adjustable fan, turn the dial to the right until you hear the fan going strong.)

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If you’ve got a good nose you may smell it anyway - you are literally burning wood. The fans/filter are good, but depending on the strength of your sniffer…

The residue is on everything now!. The camera…the glass tube…everything is coated!

As far as the smell goes, the Glowforge is in my Makerspace at a Boys & Girls Club. They can smell it even out in the hallway… even in the other classroom. Something isn’t right.

Did you turn up your fan like @jules recommended?

I had it about a third of the way up to start since I’ve only run it for less than 90 mins total. I cranked it once I saw the residue but by then it was too late.

  1. The thin PG plywoods all have MDF in the center, This will not kill the filter in a couple of cuts but it will reduce the filter life by 80% so that and full MDF are bad things to cut.

  2. If the main exhaust is running and the filter’s fan is not then the pressure has to go somewhere and any crack or hole in the exhaust line will pump out smells far in excess of their size. You can turn off the exhaust in the (…) pulldown in the Dashboard.

  3. You want to be sure that the hose is as tight as possible with no pinholes. If the filter is pulling hard this is less of a problem, but you want that filter pulling and the exhaust fan not pushing.

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Thanks everyone…this is good info. Follow up question if I may. What do most of you cut if not the plywoods, and do you get them from Glowforge or someplace else?

This is normal even with the filter running. :slightly_smiling_face:
That’s why it’s officially recommended to clean the optics regularly. (camera, mirrors, windows, lens) Residue buildup will affect your camera accuracy, focus ability, cutting strength (and not cleaned/addressed can lead to lens damage)


The thick PG plywoods do not use MDF and thus the filter will last many times longer even cutting the 1/4 inch wood instead. The solid PG wood works well and is prefinished,

Most smooth river rocks, and cheap ceramic tile cannot be cut but they can be engraved, and then colored in the engraving and thus a possible very popular thing to do. This produces no smell and hardly any effect on the filter. Marble pieces or tiles work well for this also.

Acrylic and leather are both extremely smelly to cut but not as many particles. Beyond that you can find Revell wood in most hobby, craft, and hardware stores. the balsa is too light but basswood and poplar work well. They also have non- Mdf plywood, and sometimes other nice species such as maple or cherry or walnut.

If you are seeing smoke pooling in the bed of the machine while the filter is running you do indeed have a problem. Usually it takes more than an hour of cutting to fill up a filter. Make sure you have a short run of hose, no more than a couple of 90 degree bends in it, check that the fan is drawing through the filter by disconnecting the hose at the fan, turning the fan on fairly high, then hold a sheet of paper over the opening port to see if it gets sucked down. (Hold on to it, do not let it go.).

Lower and raise the fan speed by turning the dial on front. You might just have a clogged filter.

When your Glowforge and Compact Filter are properly set up, you may have some harmless odor during printing which will rapidly dissipate. You may also smell something when you open the Glowforge lid after a print is complete. This is not harmful.

However, if you notice a strong, unpleasant or irritating odor when printing, or see smoke, shut off your Glowforge unit immediately. Smoke and fumes could be entering the room in excessive concentrations.

We’ve created a troubleshooting guide with illustrations. You can see it here:

If you’re still seeing or smelling excessive smoke or fumes when using Proofgrade materials, we’re here for you. Email us again and send us:

  1. The name of the material you’re using
  2. A description of where the smoke/fumes are coming from: the door, lid, or hose
  3. When you smell the fumes: during the print or after it has completed
  4. Photos of your Glowforge and your exhaust system

I hope your Glowforge is performing well for you. Since we haven’t heard back about this issue, I’m going to close this post. We want you to enjoy your Glowforge and are here to help.