Leather not engraving correctly (Proofgrade)

But I also use my own settings since I prefer less power than the PG settings (probably related to removing the mask).

Thank You, JBManning - I used proofgrade leather - the one that is shipped with the collection - and automatically recognised by the camera. The setting was HD Graphic (since it was graphic and in a fairly high resolution).


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I think the image is black/white - but I didn’t actually test that. Should have, should have.

The spooky thing is the way that it starts out great, and then deteriorate. At first I thought it was the leather lifting and curling. So I stopped and redid with magnets holding it down. It was the same.

Btw: Why does the machine cancel, when I opened the lid instead of pausing? First laser I have seen with that response. Is there no pause feature?

I don’t think I have more than an hour or two of runs on it. I know the air support is a bit weak on the ’
forge, but still - lens ought not to be touched by smoke at all.


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What I do to get consistent results on leather:

  1. Use the honeycomb pins to tack the leather down - make sure there are no waves/warp in it. (Magnets are less reliable, IME.)
  2. Remove the mask entirely from the section that I plan to engrave, run the engrave at 2% power and 1000 speed, 340 LPI, then put the mask back on before cutting it. Having it pinned down comes into play for this part - you don’t want it to shift at all while you are messing with the mask.
  3. If you still see that fading effect with the engrave, you might have a mechanical issue with the machine. Take the mask off and run a test to see if the engraving is uniform across the leather.

Or you can test it on some draftboard, which stays flat. The fading of the engrave might have been due to some variance in the material - leather bends a lot. You really have to make sure you have it tacked down perfectly flat.

Hey Jules

Thank you, but that does not seem like a usefull approach - there is no way for me to anchor the leather strongly enough to allow me to detach and re-attach masking tape without moving the design just a little bit.

Further, if I could cut and replace masking tape precise enough to do what you suggest, I would not need a laser cutter. :smiley:

I think I will have to find a setting that’s better than the proofgrade and burn all the way through in one go.

I will test if there is a heat issue or other with the machine, trying to do the engrave on a piece of plywood.

These are the honeycomb pins she was referring to:

With those you should hopefully be able to align and hold down the leather in a specific spot.

Edit: well, this link has the actual design files

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You’d obviously have to remove the masking before anchoring the leather, since it takes some pulling. Just a rectangle roughly big enough for your project. Then tack it down, score, stick the rectangle of masking back on (which you CAN do without moving anything, pretty easily), and finish the cuts.

Thank you.

Yes, I can easily see how that is possible.

But then the entire idea behind proof grade materials and their matching settings are void.

I might as well just purchase much cheaper components, if I have to apply masking tape and set my settings manually. :slight_smile:


I’ve found that this (engrave without masking) is more true of leather than other materials. Still there are some images that work better without masking. For leather though, I don’t think I’d like the result if they boosted the power to reliably make it through the masking because I just prefer the lighter touch on leather.

Nothing in my reply mentioned manual settings. And as for masking, leave it off for the whole job if you prefer, it just means a little extra cleanup.

There’s no way to keep masking from obscuring engraving details, whether your material is PG or not. They had the option of leaving it off everything and making us apply it ourselves, or putting it on everything and letting us remove it when we wanted better precision details. Frankly, I’m very glad they chose the former.

The vast majority of what most of us do involves cutting, which works great through masking, and the masking saves us a ton of work. Peeling a little off now and then for finer engraving details seems a whole lot easier than buying non-PG unmasked materials and doing everything manually.


You can also continue to just use the Proofgrade settings and leave the masking on the leather. They have to be set stronger to burn through the masking and adhesive. My personal opinion is that it is too hard to get that just right all the time, and that the melted adhesive goop is too much of a pain to deal with, so I take it off.

You do want to make sure that you have the leather pinned down flat. (@drelleum posted the link to the honeycomb pins above.) You won’t get consistent results if there is any wobble in the leather.


Did someone say…


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MarkWal - I can understand the personal preferences!

But for proofgrade materials to work, they do need to work. That’s kind of the point. Apparently they don’t work (reliably) with leather and engraving. That’s just a matter of raising the standard settings for heat (power) - but that is not something I can do - that’s for Glowforge.

I know that I can fiddle with the settings myself, obviously - but then, that is not the point of proofgrade materials. :wink:

You misunderstand - generally the settings that Glowforge has set up do work reliably to burn through the masking. If you are not seeing those results, check to make sure your material is pinned flat, and that the lenses and mirror are cleaned.

You might want to run another test of that logo. (Use the draftboard if you don’t want to waste the leather.) But you need to try to duplicate the fading effect on the logo above to see if the machine is losing power, if there’s something in the file, or if perhaps you just didn’t have the leather tacked down perfectly flat.

I hope it was the latter. Much easier to deal with. :neutral_face:

Jules, thank you.
I can’t find any flaws with the machine (and it’s really new) - and the cut and the score works great. It’s just the engrave on leather that fails. And yes, the focus is sharp - note the amount of magnets, holding it down. :wink:

That is why I conclude that the power set on proofgrade engrave is too low on their leather.

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Sounds like a hypothesis rather than a theory :wink:

I’d be more concerned about the fading as it goes upwards than the actual default power settings and trying to ascertain if that’s a material/masking issue, uneven crumb tray issue, power fading issue or what. But that’s just me. :slight_smile:


Unfortunately, it looks like your unit is experiencing an issue that we can’t resolve remotely. I want you to have a reliable unit, so I’m recommending we replace this one. I’ll be in touch via email to sort out the details. I’m so sorry about the bad news.

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