PRU peeps - please share your top tips for GF preparedness

I received a pre- release unit just over a week ago, and TBH, it kind of caught me with my pants down! :wink:

As someone who reads the forums regularly, I’ve been bookmarking important tips and making mental notes on tables, vent set up, etc … but let me tell you, that machine showed up on my doorstep very shortly after Rita’s email!

Thankfully, I had a table down in the garage that’ll work for now, and we cobbled together a vent set up pretty quickly after looking at what other forum members had done (thank you Beta & PRU peeps for sharing those insights here). Even so, these basic aspects of set up - and rearranging our office - took more time than I would have liked. It took us a couple of days to iron out these details, but set up really can be plug and play if you’ve got this stuff dialed in ahead of time.

I started learning AI a week or so before it arrived, so that’s another detail that has slowed me down. Right now I’m doing a crash course in Illustrator and I sure wish I’d brushed up on my SW skills sooner. It would have been great to have a handful of designs waiting and ready to go. Don’t get me wrong, this machine is very intuitive and easy to use (and there are some good/simple starter projects to get you going) but if I had it to do over, I would have given myself a better running start in that regard.

Last but not least, I wish that I’d stocked up on a few basic supplies in advance, rather than just “bookmarking them for later”. Over the past few days, I’ve purchased a digital caliper, masking, small magnets and a lightbox just to name a few.

So to summarize:

  • have your table/vent/workspace plans in order
  • brush up on your design skills - if you need to learn a program, now’s a good time to do that! If you’re already comfortable with a design program, get a few projects set up so that you can actualize them right away
  • start gathering all those little supplies and details that you’ve been bookmarking or pinning “for when the time comes” … it might come sooner than you think!

My suggestions may be obvious to many of you. Clearly, I’m not a girl scout so these are the things that I wish I’d had in place 2 weeks ago. It would be great if other PRU and Beta peeps shared their tips and suggestions here too. What do you wish you’d thought of before your :glowforge: arrived? Or, if you actually had your act together, what are some of the little details that you (thankfully) took care of in advance?


Kind of relief to know that I I was not the only one caught unprepared. And yes, all good advice.


I think, corresponding with learning design software, that making a few designs gets your head in the right space for making laser suitable files. I’ve found that each design I’ve put together has taught me something about how I need to be thinking from a cutting perspective - not just a “putting it to paper” perspective.

Edit: I’m not a PRU but have just made a few designs so my way of thinking might not even be correct. For example, doing a bathymetric map - I caught myself realizing that I need to draw it this way instead of that way, because I’m subtracting this material and don’t need or want a cut around this perimeter, etc.


Not a PRU person, but I’ve spent the last month + amassing an array of materials, prepping a workspace, getting a few odd tools I probably should have had anyway, and all sorts of other fun stuff. Now I just need a machine. (which we are thinking of naming sir torch a lot)


Congrats on the latest toy @Drea, can’t wait to see some of the stuff you make.


I had to run out to get another power strip & some ceramic magnets for it. (I use rare earth ones on the laser for holding material to the bed.)

I’ve got the GF plugged into the power strip. Then I added a powered USB hub (my Surface only has 1 USB port), my scanner (Epson Perfection V39) which also attaches to the USB hub, an aromatherapy diffuser (with lavender oil in it) and a USB power brick that is feeding my laptop (the Surface has a micro-USB power connector so can run off a standard USB charger) and my phone while I’m working. I have the scanner and a USB powered monitor plugged into the USB hub. That gives me a 2nd screen with the Surface so I can have the GFUI on one screen and Corel open on the other. I hot glued the ceramic magnets to the power strip and have it stuck to the side of the rolling chest (Home Depot 46") I’m using for the GF table.

One switch and everything goes on or off.


To my deep chagrin, I was totally unprepared. I’ve been saving box cardboard for a year, turns out I haven’t used all that much of it. What I could have used is.

  • A place for it, including a dedicated table
  • Acrylic, I should have been stockpiling this instead
  • Arrangements for venting
  • Lots of designs all but ready to go. Sure you need a machine to finally understand that last little bit but it takes so much more time to design than to cut. Have at least 10 things waiting to go.

I’d been ridiculously prepped for a good 3 months before it showed up. Chuckle!

But one thing that I wasn’t ready for was the massive quantity of masking tape that you run through.

Get a couple of rolls. It’s great for sticking stuff down on the grid to keep it from moving around, forcing warped material to lie down (for a minute or two), and picking up little teeny tiny bits off the grid without losing them down the holes.

Duct tape too. BIG roll. :grin:


Oh, the masking tape reminded me. Get some good strong magnets. they work great for holding stuff down. I have two but need more.


+1 for magnets!
Also in order to get prepared you might also want to watch a few of the youtube channels devoted to laser cutting. Someone here on the forum (sorry I don’t remember who) turned me on to RDWorks Learning Lab ( and I have now watched them all. I find it very useful to see the actual step-by-step of making things.


I have been using magnets for a lot of projects and always had problems separating them. Then I came across this Youtube

You can also use scrap wood or acrylic (or delrin works really well) to make small disks the same size as the magnets. Use those as separators between the magnets and it’s easier to slide them off each other. The laser is perfect for making separators. :slightly_smiling_face:


Oh, that’s wise! I’m going to get one now.

Excellent, I just subscribed and will start watching those.

Thank you!

You can enjoy the Glowforge as delivered without any preparation other than an open door or window through which to put the included exhaust hose. Just lay the Glowforge on the floor and sit down next to it with the included materials stacked and any kind of computing device and use the catalog designs. After a while you may wish to enhance your experience:

  1. Stand, cart, table or desk to place Glowforge on and assistance in getting it out of the box.
  2. Some type of more permanent venting setup if you don’t have a filter.
  3. An understanding of how wireless devices are set up. That means you need to know the password to your wireless network. (just stating the obvious.) and you might need to know your Glowforge password to connect to your account in case you haven’t used it in a while to log onto or are using another device
  4. An electrical outlet nearby that is on a good grounded circuit that has minimal overload potential.
  5. Fire extinguisher. Spray bottle of water. Smoke detector in working order.
  6. Design computer/device and/or some type of device with a web browser to control the Glowforge.
  7. Materials storage shelves, cubbies, boxes or whatever you can come up with.
  8. Trash can for used masking and some type of container to keep all the offcuts you will you will keep for ever because you can’t part from them.
  9. Good digital calipers
  10. Some good drawing paper and some good Sharpies (fine points work now!)
  11. Masking tape, duct tape, Gorilla tape (makes weeding masking from living hinges way easier).
  12. CA glue and/or wood glue.
  13. A place to store or display your finished objects and the test pieces (failures, whatever you call them.)
  14. Heavy duty box cutters and a smaller finer utility knife.
  15. A bunch of ceramic magnets to easily move around the crumb tray to keep thinner or smaller materials from shifting.
  16. Small clamps or large binder clips and rubber bands for assisting in glue ups.
  17. Dental pick or something like that for delicate area weeding unless you have good fingernails.
  18. A couple rulers and a small tape measure.
  19. Speed square and/or framing square (helps with own materials).

Great question, @Drea! Thanks for asking it. I hadn’t thought of @marmak3261’s #17: Dental pick. Nice idea.

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I found a single edge razor blade carefully slid across the surface picks up small weeds really good on a flat surface like proofgrade ply!
Got a box of Harbor Freight specials :+1:


I’d still cut myself. (Total klutz.)


I use a few plastic scraping tools for vinyl removal. The YelloBlade, and Lil Chisler have worked great for me (I love the YelloBlade, but I regret not having one of the handles… GF will fix that little problem for me!)
There are other products available that I haven’t tried: I wonder how these plastic razor blades would do for the Proofgrade masking:


Oh you had to do it, didn’t you… :smile:

I’ll let you know.


Believe me, I would rather buy them myself, test them on my own Glowforge-processed Proofgrade material, and then report my success or failure.