Summary: My Glowforge arrived today. It’s amazing.
Now let me catch you up…
I wasn’t expecting my Glowforge 'til probably October. Then the email came and I told them to ship it! No word for a few weeks but my proofgrade materials randomly showed up on my porch without warning. Started feeling real and began realizing I had done nothing to get prepared (I’m a huge procrastinator and lets face it, it’s been a long, long wait so why bother before now). Tuesday of this week I get notification that it’s shipped and will be here by Friday… FRIDAY!!! As in, I’ll have a laser before the weekend?! NO WAY! Then I went into panic mode: “I don’t have a place for it. I can’t even vent it out the window (and the filter I bought won’t ship for months!). There doesn’t seem like nearly as enough material in that proofgrade package for the 900 projects I want to do.” I wasn’t sure what to do first. So naturally I dealt with the most important, most necessary step first—we went and bought more material.
Cue suddenly learning everything I could as fast as possible about what’s laser safe on my phone while standing in front of a shelf at Hobby Lobby—I’m pretty much an expert now (that’s sarcasm by the way). Still having no clue what I was doing, we bought a bunch of things mostly made of natural wood (remind me to post a pic of everything I got). Forget the fire extinguishers and venting toxic chemicals out of the house, I got stuff to laser!
Yesterday I realized I honestly shouldn’t—no COULDN’T—even start cutting on this thing until I figured out how to get the vent out the window. I already realized the basement wasn’t ready for my Glowforge so it would have to have a temporary home somewhere else. The dining room it is. Large table. Window outside. Done. But I can’t just leave the hose hanging out the window and have all that toxic junk coming back in the house so easily. I need some sort of window insert like everyone in the forums have made. Chunk of wood, hole for dryer vent & probably a cover. All doable—except I have no tools whatsoever and can’t cut a hole big enough in the wood myself. So I asked around & I managed to get a friend I work with to graciously sacrifice time I’m sure he didn’t have to help me with this ('cause he’s in charge of a week-long student ministry camp with over 100 kids and they leave this weekend). I would’ve had family help but I’ve kept this purchase a secret from them for nearly 2 years and can’t blow the secret now—not when I’m THIS CLOSE!!!
Alright… Consider yourself now caught-up to today. I got up early (not knowing when my friend would swing by to measure the window) and saw my package departed for delivery this morning at 4am. I exercised, showered, and waited. Not long after, my friend showed-up to measure the window. We came up with a quick design and plan of action. I told him I had to wait for the package and he said, “No worries. I got this.” And off he went. So I sat there with the windows open looking for UPS and waited… and waited… and waited… after 2 minutes that felt like an eternity I realized I needed to find a better use of my time. So I hopped on the forums and started reading random posts in preparation (none of them being what I probably SHOULD have been looking into at this point of course, as I’m just seeing what everyone was making instead of researching stuff I needed to know to get started). Next thing I know, I look up to see UPS coming down the street.
I jumped and met the woman at the door, who had a large box and wanted to be sure we were home before she bothered getting it off the truck, which she couldn’t do alone. I explained we’ve been waiting for this one a long time, so yeah, I’m definitely here ready to help. She opens the back of the truck and my heart sinks—large boxes, all over the place, clearly fallen from where they should’ve been. I’m honestly surprised nothing fell out of the door when she opened it. I thought to grab my phone and get a picture but before I could she goes, “Oh, here it is!” and I see it sitting flush against the side way, looking as though it had never once moved an inch, perfectly untouched. At this point I was too excited again to take the picture and figured it’s probably best that I don’t show you guys what might’ve been. I don’t want to be responsible for the riot that would’ve ensued here after that image.
We got it on the porch and in the front door, at which point she looks at me and goes, “Well, this is where I leave you,” and literally sets her end down in the doorway and walks off. Nothing to sign. No way for me to even shut the door. In a flash, she’s gone. Luckily my wife had heard everything and came downstairs. We moved the box and I immediately took a few pictures for reference, but to me the box seems perfectly fine (especially considering the state of everything else on that truck. I still shudder the thought of what might have been).
We open it. It’s like the heavens opened up and the hallelujah chorus was playing somewhere in the distance. It’s big. It takes up most of the dining room table. I apologize to my wife for taking over the dining room realizing we won’t be eating at home for a while, and promise her we’ll get the basement set-up as soon as possible. But MAN is this thing beautiful!
We get the packaging off, and I start the process of following the instructions to get everything in place ready to go… I skip the step on hooking up the vent hoping my friend will be along soon and working under the assumption that I can calibrate and get it connected to the network without it. It’s all pretty straight forward until the part which says, “remove the foam from inside, near the front left side.” … uhhh… what foam?.. I look… I look again… my wife looks… I assume they just forgot it but I don’t want to be the guy that happened to miss it and burns his whole house down because he failed to follow one instruction. Of course, it’s the one step in the process without a picture to show you what should be there. I quickly pull out my phone, search the forums for “foam front left” hoping I’m not the only one this has happened to and find @Tom_A’s article, “The Eagle Has Landed.” I see they probably no longer ship with it and just need to update the instructions and move on.
My friend returns before I get the laser head installed, and his solution looks perfect. We go to put it in the window, but it doesn’t fit the way we thought. Assuming we open the window wide and turn it at an angle it should slide down in, but of course our math didn’t account for the diagonal of the board being longer than the width of the window… we quickly troubleshoot and decide we’ll just cut-off a corner so it slides in easily, then I can cram something there to suffice until I can Glowforge a solution to that corner. This is only a temporary fix anyway. So he leaves to cut again and says he’ll be back. I finish getting it set-up and it connects, I can see everything is ready to go on my iPad and all I need to do is choose a design, put material in and hook-up the vent.
At this point, we go to lunch and stop by menards while we’re out… Gorilla tape, thank you… masking tape for all my non-proofgrade material (Hope you don’t end up killing me and that my research was correct that you are laser safe), and—OH, Hello more material! Aaaaaaand a $15 fire extinguisher just so we never have to use it ('cause if you buy it, you won’t need it, right?). We come home a few hours later, and I’m watching the clock like a hawk. My son has someplace to be before dinner then we were gonna meet friends after to eat and come back to the house assuming I had my Glowforge running by then. Was hoping I could run my first few designs before they got here so when I screwed up I don’t look like an idiot doing so in front of them. My friend texts me that his daughter was still napping so he’d swing by once she woke up. No big deal. I sent my wife and kids off to my son’s thing and waited at the house for him, and figured I’d meet everyone for dinner after. He shows up, the wood fits, and we’re good. I promise to take his family to dinner when he returns from his trip then we can come back and laser all the things he wants as a thank you. (I’m SO grateful for him and all his hard work to rush and help me get this thing figured out, especially knowing how much he has to get ready for his trip). Of course, once he leaves I’m thinking about the whole in the corner and what I’m gonna do to fill it in when I realize, “wait… why don’t we just put the piece he cut-off in first, then slide the board down on top and it’ll fit. Duh!” I followed him to his house, got the corner piece (which ends up working perfectly) and went to dinner.
FINALLY! This thing arrived before 11am and now it’s after dinner and I can FINALLY run my first print! Of course, I’m praying everything goes right so I don’t look dumb in front of my friends. We cut the founders ruler and it couldn’t have gone better!
After, I help my son figure out a first design and he draws a pokeball and we cut it. A few minor hiccups (Found Here!), but in a matter of minutes, an idea he scribbled from his own brain on a piece of wood is sitting in front of us as an engraved token which he colored and couldn’t be more thrilled.
At this point, knowing our dinner guests need to leave soon, I offer to throw something together for him. He of course seems excited but has no idea what to ask for, so the silly person I am assumes, “Oh, I know! We’ll find an image of a Millenium Falcon from Star Wars, cut & engrave it like we did my son’s drawing and you’ll have that awesome thing to throw on your desk at home.” Excited he agrees… Unfortunately, far too long later we walk away completely empty handed. Monumental failure… Okay, that may be an overstatement. The house is still standing and we’re all still alive. However, we weren’t able to get the design to the machine like I thought, and none of my hacks or ideas to fix it worked (and none of my quick forum searches got me the quick answers I needed). So sadly he walked away empty handed, with at least the memory of the ruler & pokeball success, as well as the thought that he’ll be able to come back sometime soon after I’ve figured out how to use this newfangled machine, to bring hims some small comfort. But that story (and my only true MAJOR complaint for Glowforge staff) is for another thread.
In the meantime, I’ve written you FAR too much of a novel already (thanks for sticking with me, you few… you band of brothers) and I have to hurry and figure out what went wrong tonight because, as I said, I’ve kept this a secret from my family and I already invited them to come over tomorrow so I can show it off. Don’t want to see them walk away empty-handed as well.