HELP...Can I cut wood which is 1/2 inch thick?

I am hoping someone can help me. I need to cut a 1 1/2 " hole in the middle of a 1/2" thick wood board. The wood species is not that important as long as I can get it locally and it’s not extraordinarily expensive. I do need it not to burn too much under the masking, but other than that, I’m very open to suggestions. So tell me GF Community, am I barking up an impossible tree? And, of course, I am a relatively new woodworker and definitely new Glowforge user. Thanks Users!!!

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Depends on the kind of wood, and the kind of machine you have. I cut some nominal 1/2" basswood (actual calipered measurement 0.38") the other day with a Pro in one pass.

So yeah, it’s feasible with multiple passes on lightweight woods. With the Pro. (No guarantees on the other machines.)


i have not had great success getting through thick material cleanly, although I’ve had my best luck with cedar boards (nominal 1/2", callipered at 0.43"). Cleanest cuts I got involved multiple passes, setting the focal height lower with each pass.

circle cut with multiple passes, no focal height adjustment. Charcoal-like finish on the sides. rectangle had the adjustments, less charing but still evident. no masking used.

Circle has more obvious flare-burns, rectangle has more of an even shading effect.


honestly, if you just need to cut a 1.5" hole in a thick piece of wood, i would pick up a hole cutter for my drill and just drill it out. it will take less time, make less mess, and make you less unhappy.


Thanks so much. Would you mind sharing your settings with me? I know I will have to fool around with them but it would be great to have a place to start!. Thanks again.

Thanks for the info and the visuals. As a newer glow forge user, I’ve heard people refer to focal depth settings, and I have a vague understanding of telling the laser to cut at a lower thickness (i think) every pass, but would you mind explaining it to me a little “slower”, lol? What settings would you try.

Also, what do you think about making a jig and cutting as deep as I can on one side, turn the wood over and cut as deep as I can on the other side? Can you foresee any problems I might run into? Thank you again for sharing your info and images.

Hi and thanks for your suggestion. I am what some people refer to as a handicapable perso n and I have some difficulties with my hands both with dexterity and strength. That’s why Glowforge has been a Godsend to me. I’ve tried to use a hole saw but I do not get consistent results and can only get one or two done at a time, and then rest my hands the whole next day, so that would not get me enough production.

What are your thoughts about making a jig and cutting as deep as I can on one side, turn the wood over and cutting as deep as I can on the other side? Can you foresee any problems I might run into? I really appreciate your input.

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i appreciate that.

it could work, as long as your jig is perfectly symmetrical.

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I didn’t keep them or write them down…each time I make a cut on unknown material I just run a small test case…for the Basswood, it was in the neighborhood of 139/FP (with a Pro machine) if I remember correctly, but that was several weeks ago and a lot has happened since then.

Still you can try that, (on Basswood) and go slower if it doesn’t cut all the way through.



I was able to cut a square out of 1/2” red oak. There was charring but could probably sand it and get rid of most. Search for cutting red oak. Those are the settings I used. I think I had speed down to 100 with full power.

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I’d like that ,too. I just don’t get the focal length thing.

I hope some of the information in this thread is helpful regarding focus and material thickness:


Thank you so very much!

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