Help! My machine is not cutting through any material

We’ve tried proofgrade. We’ve used wood we’ve cut ourselves to fit the machine. We’ve had some success but I’d say 8 out of 10 times we lose our material because it didn’t cut through. I’m so frustrated. I need tips, please.
See above pictures. Doesn’t even work with glowforge material.

Are you using the set focus tool? Is the material absolutely flat? On the proofgrade, is it close to cutting all the way through? Can you show us the Gift of Good Measure on draftboard? Are all the optics clean?


More Info would be useful. Did it work for a while and then not? Did you do the “Gift of good measure” on MDF? If you can do that and record the time and take pictures, then the Support folk can look at the records and the picture and get a clue to what is happening. (not as fast as @dklgood)

I don’t know what the auto focus tool is. I have recently cleaned it. Sometimes the material is slightly warped, sometimes it’s not. Many times it’s close to cutting through but at times not even close. We’ve tried a wide variety of wood and varied settings. I am not familiar with the gift of good measure.

We’ve had this problem from the beginning. Where would I find the gift of good measure?

The Gift of Good Measure is what Glowforge suggests you cut as your first cut.:
You can find it in your design library or the catalog.

1 Like

Several things can cause an incomplete cut, some of the most common are:

  1. Material that is not perfectly flat on the tray. If you aren’t using something like the Honeycomb pins or strong SHIELDED magnets, the odds are very good that the smallest amount of warp in the material can keep it from cutting through in places.
  2. Dirty optics. (Sounds like you cleaned those, if you make sure you cleaned the two small windows on the bottom of the Print Head, along with the lens inside, the window on the side of the Print Head and the hidden window on the left side of the laser arm, it probably isn’t that.)
  3. The material itself. Cheaper plywoods purchased locally can have air pockets, knots, glue plugs and worse…and those spots and patches are not laserable. The laser will just char the dickens out of it and not even make it part way through. Different material might work better for you in that case.
  4. Having the wrong settings for whatever you are trying to cut.

Any of the above can cause incomplete cuts. In some cases, you can try to finish a cut by sending a second pass without moving the backing material or changing the screen alignment. Test to see if a cut is complete by holding down the backing material and trying to lift the cutouts with tape or a pick.


The set focus tool is under the gear icon. You select the auto focus tool and click in the middle of your design on the Glowforge bed. The Glowforge uses that spot to focus the laser at that point. It eliminates the need to use calipers and set the material depth manually. Your material must be perfectly flat on the Glowforge bed or the laser cut will be inconsistent.

1 Like

Don’t you mean “Unshielded” No I read it wrong Sorry! all magnets need to be shielded

1 Like

I am having the same problem… :weary:

Just because it’s proofgrade doesn’t mean you can’t change the laser settings. Assuming your problem is that you need to clean your optics (most likely), just go in and bump the power up a little, or reduce the speed a little. Later, when you have time, you can take things apart and clean them.

I cut a lot of stuff that isn’t proofgrade. For my first runs with a new material, I have a dental pick I use to try and lift pieces out without moving the surrounding material. If a part won’t lift out, I know it didn’t cut through. No reason to waste the material. I just increase the speed, turn down the power, and make another run. Since nothing’s moved, the new cut lines up with the old and slices through any thin remaining stuff. So I don’t have to scrap the material. And I increase power a little, or slow down a little, for the next time I cut that material.

1 Like

You will have to start a new thread if you want Glowforge support to address your issue. Also, if you want assistance from the forum, you will need to be a little more specific about the problem you are having. Reading Jules post above is a good place to start if you are having difficulties with things cutting completely.

I’m so sorry you’ve hit a snag! I see you’ve already received some excellent advice from some of our other community members. Thanks folks! In addition to that advice, we have some standard first steps to follow. Would you please try the following?

To cut successfully, there are three important things to check. First, your material must lie flat. This requires a clean, properly installed crumb tray and flat materials. Second, there must be no obstructions, dirt, or damage preventing the laser light from reaching your material. Third, your design must be set up properly - for example, with lines that are fully on the material and that are set to cut. It’s hard to know which issue might be affecting your print, but if you follow the instructions in the cut-through troubleshooter, we’ll be able to get to the bottom of it.

Once you’ve inspected and cleaned, please try another print. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Please print the Gift of Good Measure as shown below:

Open the Gift of Good Measure design and set up a print with the design at the 4 corners and center of your material:

Please let me know the result. If it doesn’t print well, please send us the date and time of your print and send photos of the front and back of the print.

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies on this thread so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email