Not Cutting Through 1/4 HPVA Maple Plywood From Lowes


Im frustrated. All of a sudden Im having a problem cutting through 3/16 plywood. Its so thin that It really shouldnt be a problem especially because I have cut through it multiple time with nice brown edges.

I just ran a test file cutting the material with various speeds - 300, 275, 250, 225, 200, 175, 150, 125 @ full power with 3 Passes. The only one that fully cut through it and the rectangle shape dropped out when I picked up the wood was the 125 with nicely CHARRED edges.
After 3 cuts you have to be kidding me…

Ive cut through this material many times before without issue which is why Im frustrated.

The only variable I can think of is either the wood supplier changed their wood type or the most recent laser update changed something!

What do you guys think?

Question - have you cleaned recently? A dirty lens/mirror/etc. can mess with power transmission

If yes, check to make sure the lens didn’t get put back upside down. The bowl should go into the head. That’ll also mess with power.

If neither of those help it may be the wood. You should run a Gift of Good Measure on some proofgrade to check.


Glowforge support will not address materials that are not Proofgrade. I suggest you clean all of your optics, then try printing the Gift of Good Measure on Proofgrade draftboard. If the print is a failure, post pictures and note the date and time of the print.

Keep in mind that plywoods have adhesives and the different wood layers (or even MDF core) can have many knots on the internal layers you can’t see even if it looks good on the exterior–and it could even be the adhesive used in this wood that is causing issues. And no guarantee if one batch from Lowe’s works the next one will as easily, since they may change suppliers… hopefully the adhesives being used are not toxic when lasered–that is a risk with non PG!

A tip to look for knots/dense spots is use a light box, bright light or flashlight behind the sheet to see if you can find the dense (dark) areas & work around those.

I’m so sorry that you have hit this snag.

Could you please do the following?

  1. Turn off your Glowforge, then turn it back on
  2. We included an extra piece of Proofgrade Draftboard with your materials shipment for troubleshooting. Place Proofgrade Draftboard in the bed and load the Gift of Good Measure design.
  3. Set the score and engrave steps to ‘ignore.’ Print the Gift of Good measure using the default settings. Allow the print to finish.
  4. When the print finishes, leave the lid closed and wait until the fans stop and the picture of the bed updates.
  5. Check the completed print:
    • If the Gift of Good Measure fails to cut, please let us know the date and time of the print
  • If the Gift of Good Measure cuts successfully, please try another print of the design you saw the issue with, and let us know the results.
  1. If the issue still occurs, please let us know the date and time of the finished print.

Once I can review this print, I’ll send over the next best steps.

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Hey deirdebeth,
Thank you for your pro tips on this. I have cleaned my lenses and mirrors and have installed the them back in as per the glowforge manual. Every thing looks clean and clean.

I have run the gift of good measure on proof grade material and its came out just fine.

I guess there was a change with the material. So lesson learned is to use a nice quality hardwood sheet and not the ply wood if not using proof grade. Ill give it a go and see if I have the same issues. It makes sense there would be resistance and more burn on the wood with the glue in the plywood.

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I will give this a try and get back to you. I have run the Gift of Good Measure on Proofgrade draft board and didnt have any issues. I havent tried it on the material Im working with. Will get back to you shortly.

I think the greater lesson to learn is that materials can be quite inconsistent.

Hardwoods can have variation in grain, inclusions like knots, varying thicknesses, even varying density across the structure of the single piece as it transitions from heart wood to sap wood. As with any material, testing is key, and keep careful notes. Measure your thicknesses and note them with your settings so you don’t think “ah all my maple is exactly 0.125”, when the next piece is really 0.135".

Even PG can vary. It’s definitely more consistent than the average, but even GF can’t control for all these things.

It’s not hard to get consistent results, but it requires consistent practices like these to get them.


Hey Just want to give you an update. The Gift of Good Measure cuts just fine on the proof grade draft board. Im pretty sure its just the material that Im using that changed.

My Solution is to cut the ply wood 4-6 times at 300 speed to minimize burning on the edges. Im going to try out some hardwood sheets and see how it performs without the glue in the material.


Thank you so much for letting us know. I’m glad to hear that the Gift of Good Measure properly printed.

It looks like you were able to narrow down the trouble to the specific material. I’ll close this topic for now, but please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly at if you run into any additional trouble.