Overall item thickness almost 2" but engraving area is in the middle which is .5" inch from top. Any special settings I should try?

So I have this assembled product that I wish to engrave. The maximum width is almost at the 2" limit but that is just the edges. The engraving has to happen at a point that is 1/2" lower from the laser than the thickest part of the build.

Also, I’m an absolute noob. I’ve been lurking in the forums since I purchased my Glowforge and finally got it today and set it up. Haven’t fired it up yet because I’m having difficulty making the exhaust hose stay on so I’m heading to the hardware store to get some additional ductwork adaptors and such.

So please take that into account when giving me advice. I’m still learning.
Thank you.

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You’ll need to take the crumb tray out to do this one - so I really don’t suggest you do this first. At a minimum go through the First Prints tutorial

The likelihood that this will not turn out as expected is high - so if you really really love this assembled product, and you cannot disassemble it, I’m going to suggest you maybe cut the design out of masking and use the masking to spray paint it onto the assembled object or other transfer methods.

That being said it’s doable. You’ll want to take out the crumb tray, and then raise your item back up until the 2" part is just beneath the fan behind the laser head (if you measure it by the laser head the fan will hit it when it starts up). Then use Set Focus to choose the spot where you want to place your design, then place your design and go. There is a chance that you’ll have to do a slightly defocused engrave because the 1/2" will fall outside of the focus range. If you get an error, come back here and let us know what it is and there are ways around even that.


Adding to @deirdrebeth, IF/when you try this, there are threads that discuss how to estimate what spacer block thickness you need to keep the area you want etched still in the focal range and keeping the top edges of of the way of the fan/head.

But before you try etching an assembled piece, practice a lot on scraps first of this same material–you didn’t mention what material (wood?), and you’ll want to test settings to get the look you want, before even thinking about complication with removing the crumb tray (and lots of threads on different materials too–e.g. start with closest PG setting, and then modify settings and/or masking used to get the look you like best!).

And for future projects, plan to etch before assembling, whenever possible to simplify the setup w/ the GF–or risk being stuck with poor etching job on a finished piece…


Both @deirdrebeth and @bansai8creations gave really good advice. I just want to add my 2 cents: start with simple jobs and do them as well as you can. The more jobs you do, the more you go for “very good” if you can’t get perfect. Don’t do complex stuff until you have done the simple ones well.

Then do a comlex one that you are willing to break up as a scrap project if you flub it. There is some value in learning from your mistakes; the best learning occurs when you have a base of success to build on.

Save your current project as the first one your will approach with full confidence in your abiity to get it right. The approach you would take this week may be outdated by your superior skill in a month or two. [I’m assuming you’ll be as manic about reading the forum as I am.]


Early on I purchased some trays that had exactly that issue and at 1/2 inch a millimeter plus or minus can be huge. Just yesterday I engraved a piece of wood that mic’d at 0.546 and the exhaust for the head fan just cleared it but every machine is different and some are a hair under that 0.5.

However even though my exhaust piece made it over the machine calculations did not and it screwed up other things. This is also true at the other end near 0.0 as the measure is figured so I would double check that the actual difference is at least a third decimal point under that 0.5 difference.


Thank you. Your detailed advice is welcomed and I can tell you have much experience so I am heading your warnings and will put this project on hold until I have confidence.

I’m also going to try the idea of cutting some masking to make a stencil. If that goes well, I’ll just do that for a paint and ink transfer on this particular project.

I can tell this is going to take more patience than I originally anticipated but I also realize that the satisfaction of a job well done is proportional to the effort required to reach proficiency.

Thank you. I’ll share my results when I get back to this project. For now your kind replies have kept me from trying something that would have frustrated me as I’m not ready for it yet.


Don’t cut vinyl with your Glowforge unless you’re sure it’s not made of PVC.

I wouldn’t mention it except that you’re new. Pvc is dangerous to your machine, For more info search the forum for pvc.


We are looking forward to seeing your projects. Even if you feel it isn’t “perfect”, just keep in mind that’s where a lot of us were when we posted (post) projects. I always think, “I could have done it better.” Oh well, I did the best I could. Next one will be better.

Read the forum until you are dizzy, then take a nap and read more. it’s a real learning experience, without having to make those (mistakes) discoveries yourself.

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