My earrings are getting burnt to a crisp!

I just got my Glowforge setup yesterday. I make custom dog earrings:

I have been getting them cut with the laser cutting company, Ponoko. But they are so expensive I decided a Glowforge would be a better investment in the long run :slight_smile:
I have done some test runs of my earrings on the proofgrade plywood, and it is not going well. I have tried many different cut/score settings and it seems like both the score and the cutting is burning too much, because they come out looking like burnt marshmellows… but sometimes the cut doesn’t even go all the way through.

So, for my trial cuts I have been trying to cut a Chihuahua earring. The bottom earring is one cut from Ponoko, and the look I’m going for. The top is Glowforge. This is the same exact art file even though the Glowforge one looks super tiny.

I’ve been searching for some documentation on settings but I can’t find anything to help. If someone could point me in the right direction that would be amazing.

Thanks so much!



This sounds like a silly question but was one of your settings choices using the defaults for PG Maple and did you use “set focus”?


Ponoko is cleaning them up after for you ( solves my question as to why dogs would wear earrings :relieved:)

I would put them in with some hand sanitizer, and that will dissolve all the gunk that looks like burn away. An alternative is bleach that will even take out much actual scorching, though raw carbon in the actual cut sides will need some sanding.


Very cute!

Update/Edit: (Sorry, didn’t realize that was on Proofgrade material…asking if the masking was removed after the cut is a good question that I overlooked. Make sure you have removed the masking if it’s masked. That might be all you need here.)


OK, since you say you’re using PG ply, can you tell us which one and what settings you’re using (a screenshot works)? Also, if you’re willing to share your file, maybe someone can look and make sure nothing wonky is happening.

I’ve used Ponoko and the items sent still had masking on, so I don’t think they’re using any magical anything other than the right settings and masking. PG should have the same effect.

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Also, this may sound dumb, but did you keep the masking on while cutting? And have you now removed it?


I am reasonably confident the GF can reproduce the Ponoko example. The post from @Jules will set you on the right path. It’s just going to take some time to figure out the settings you need.

Consider using Glowforge Proofgrade maple, birch, etc. They are made with a core of MDF, not plywood, and so they won’t have any knots. Oops, you are.

A few other things to think about:

You can also use acrylic, which cuts beautifully, though you’d then need to fill in the lines with paint, for contrast.

You can engrave on most woods with 2-3 distinct shades, if that gives you any design ideas. (Black nose, brown spots, etc.)

You can stain a wood product before cutting it, if you want colors.

Have fun!


She says she’s using PG ply in her message…

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Cool, missed that part, thought it was ply.



Well, that was an obvious question to miss. :laughing: :rofl:
(Don’t mind me…I’m just going to go do something actually useful now.)


Welcome to the community!
As you can see, you throw a problem on the table here and help comes out of the woodwork. You will find this community to be your go-to for solutions!

Enjoy your adventure, and keep posting your craft! We all enjoy seeing what others do with their laser. :sunglasses:


One other thing I didn’t see mentioned above that is a common cause of this type of problem is the possibility that you have double lines in your design so it’s trying to cut everything twice. It’s possible that Pokono would recognize and remove the second line. If you would care to upload your file (zipped to keep Discourse from changing it), one of us will be glad to troubleshoot it for you.


This also obviously looks like there’s a step that’s being engraved, but maybe it’s just being scorched from the cuts. What software are you using to design and save the files? I know there’s some wonkiness with some software in the saving process, but @Jules and others know which programs those are better than me!

If you could share a screenshot of the GF interface after you upload with the settings that you’re using included in the picture, that might help us help you more, too. Also, nice shop! I’m always impressed by those people who will paint their stuff :grin:


If you are not using Proofgrade material and settings, here is a discussion of settings in general. Also, I have found the best place to start is with the Proofgrade settings of a similar material and then make slight adjustments.


I just sketched your design and ran it thru my GF on PG Maple Ply. Using PG settings for cut (outline) and score (eyes, nose, ears), this is what I get - masking half removed.

Source file: (1.9 KB)

It looks to me that for the eyes/nose/ears, you are using a bitmap image (jpg or similar) and etching it, and that image does not have a white background, so the whole area is being engraved.


Ha ha…I see what you did there…even though it wasn’t on purpose.


I looked at all the earrings in your shop and must commend you for a very novel idea. I do some hand-coloring on very small things myself, so can certainly admire your work. I think once you get the proper settings worked out, your Glowforge will prove invaluable.


I realized I made the first print too large. Here it is again, a little less than an inch…


Oops! Plywood with MDF in the middle is not a good candidate for use of the Hand Sanitizer as it will also dissolve the binder for the MDF :astonished: But if it has the :proofgrade: then there is the masking that can be removed and :proofgrade: settings to be pretty close to the correct settings.

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I’m so sorry your print didn’t turn out well @VicTacToe! It looks like you’ve already received some excellent advice from our community members. Thanks folks!

Did the advice they provided help you to print your design as expected?

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