QOTD from Glowforge: Before Glowforge, what tools have you used for making things and how do you feel about them?



That’s a pretty open-ended question. Both my partner and I have used a massively wide range of hand and power tools over the years to make anything from clothing and jewelry and furniture and structures and stages and set pieces (among other things). On the CNC front, we’ve also both used laser cutters, vinyl cutters, and CNC routers (amfew different machines), as well as 3D printers on am wide range of materials. I’ve also had training on a CNC milling machine and water jet, but to date I have not used those tools on any projects. My partner has dabbled in CNC embroidery, but I haven’t ventured into those waters.

On the analog tools side, One of my favorite projects was to help design and build a 2 1/2 story, 40-foot long space pirate ship. On the CNC tools side I’m particularly proud of a climbable ziggurat (stepped pyramid) installation made using slotted wood parts. On the purely digital side, I’m really excited to have recently completed a series of 8 gallery quality 3’ x 4’ posters using a variety of design methods.

The laser and CNC router are by far my favorite machines. while my design workflow used to start with scribbles on bar napkins and then sketches and doodles in a notepad, these days my design workflow is almost completely digital. Sketching and scribbling happens on either an iPad or graphics tablet on the computer, and nothing needs to be scanned or re-done electronically in order to use it with our favorite applications. Thanks to the cloud we can easily bounce designs back and forth to each other, to colleagues or customers, or just between machines and devices in our studio (I don’t miss hunting for blank disks or cables one bit).

we are both very excited about CNC tools. They let us realize pur creative visions in ways that either would have been unlikely (because of the time and effort it would take us to build something) or impossible (because we just don’t have the expertise to make a quantity of an object to a specific size or shape within a few hundredths of an inch.


The first computer controlled “tool” I used was probably the NewTek Video Toaster linear digital video editing system running on an Amiga, controlling vhs and betacam decks. It was pretty neat. The step up to Media100 was huge… All digital, non-linear video editing! Macromedia’s Final Cut was neat too, but I didn’t use it all that much until Apple bought it.
Got into welding, and have a little Lincoln buzz box, a metal cut-off saw, and a bench-grinder.
Went analog for a while; Lived off grid with solar power and no internet or cable. Used mainly human-powered hand tools: axe, shovel, pick… but I love my Stihl chainsaw and Makita cordless drills.
These days I use Illustrator to run a 42" Graphtec cutting plotter, and it works wonderfully.
Most recently used tools would be Craftsman sockets and an Ace socket-driver to pull the radiator out of my truck. I have a decent but far from complete automotive tool kit.
Finally, the tools that I put in my pocket every single day: An Iphone, A bic lighter, and a Kershaw 1550ST folding pocketknife.


I’m a carpenter by trade. I’ve made cabinets from rough lumber to building residential houses. I’ve used most conventional hand and power tools. On the software side, I used to design roof trusses and wall panels, so I used a few different CAD programs.
Lately, I’ve started making dice towers for table top gaming and mostly used my Craftsman miter saw. It got a little dicey when I made the last tower because I had to cut the 3/8" wide pieces on my Craftsman miter saw.
I can’t wait to use GF in a much safer manner!


My passion with making things started a little over two years ago. Previous to that I still created but had turned to a graphics tablet and various software to bring my vision to others. It is as if I came full circle. When I was in high school there was not a lot of digital working tools and the internet was very young. At that time I was always building a repurposing.
Something happened a couple years ago that brought me creative vision out of the pixel realm and actually into the physical and I could not be happier.
My first machine to help automate was the Silhouette Cameo and it has been a faithful robot ever since. I even use it to cut objects that are then applied to wall art to give dimension. I have designed many luminaries and other physical products that are 3 dimensional. These items are for personal use only. Including a wallet I am currently making from a paper milk carton. When it is done I will post a photo.
Since the Cameo and just moments prior to discovering the Glowforge I ordered and a Silhouette Curio, which promises a new realm of cutting, since the cutting bed has been raised and I (finally) received the 20mm blade last week, it is what I will be using to cut the wallet today.
To say I am excited to be able to cut even deeper is an understatement. I cannot wait to be able to bring even more creative ability to my space and beyond. I have been in negotiations with a large space with a commercial kitchen to bring a maker style space into the area (locally produced crafts and food stuffs). The concept is a Maker Space and a rent by the hour commercial kitchen. What goes better with craft spaces? Snacks handy!


Never thought of a Maker kitchen. The gastronomy societies in Spain kind of do this. I would gladly participate in something like that. Can’t afford a steam injection oven for my bread and every once and a while need to do bigger quantities. I do have a small immersion circulator that is the best for patés.


I will let you know how it goes. As a Heritage city (relatively small town in KY), we have a huge farmers market that draw crowds from three and sometimes four states and between the major grocery chains, we have peppered in there several mom and pop groceries and even a mercantile. I have access to two separate CSA programs and more and more organic mills and farms just keep popping up all the time. Many food ‘makers’ here are getting special exceptions for producing food stuffs in their homes but the rules are tightening. Just so happens I know someone with an inside track on a kitchen originally built for, of all investors you could imagine, Merv Griffin. It is at a horse racing track that no longer has live racing (telecast bets only). The GM is looking to monetize that space. I’ll pencil you onto that list :wink:

QOTD: Who competes with us for your affection?

I make and sell handcrafted pens. http://pensbylarry.com/
I presently use - Gasp! Decals for special theme pens and am looking forward to using the Glowforge to enhance my pens. At 84 years old I have run the gauntlet from the Trash 80 computer to my present 27" iMac and have learned a lot along the way. Want my Glowforge so bad I can taste it!


I don’t agree with the phrase jack of all trades, master of none! I’ve done vinyl cutting for 6 years, starting with cricut/silhouette and most recently upgrading to a us cutter plotter that greatly expanded my scale possibilities. I use inkscape, photoshop, make-the-cut and sure cuts a lot applications most often (very excited about the future inkscape plugins) but I also know how to use numerous other application, even if they aren’t my top choices to use. Make-the-cut is a program I use to trace all sorts of images to break it into a cuttable set of layers and I can export as svg. It’s the best program I’ve used for converting images. I do finer node editing in inkscape when necessary.
I’ve also worked with an air compressor and drill with dental bits to carve egg shells, including chicken, goose, ostrich, and emu, scrimshaw on egg shells (an ostrich egg polished smooth and then scrimshawed),acid etching, stiska art, paper quilling, paper tolling, decoupage and a number of other paper crafts; crochet, quilting, embroidery, etc. You name it, I’ve done it. I’ve loved every tool I’ve worked with and I can make any tool work for me!


oooh, I can’t think of any reason that eggshells wouldn’t be laserable; many of the smaller ones would fit in the 'Forge, and its continuous autofocus capabilities might allow it to follow the curve, potentially enabling some pretty intricate laser carving!


They are! In fact, many of the astounding work of my eggshell carving mentor, Gary LeMaster of theeggshellsculptor.com, are often shared across the internet as being the work of lasers. He is indeed just THAT talented, but there are many actual laser carved shells that I have seen as well. However, with the max 1.5 inch height, other than smallish chicken shells and smaller varieties, I don’t think many shells would fit in the forge whole. However, my mother has many projects where she was making jewelry boxes from ostrich egg shells and has cut the face off to make into doors…I’ve carved them for her in the past, but we could almost surely laser engrave/carve the door section and reattach to the egg on hinges for the doors as well. Lovely idea @B_and_D_T!


I have a 20w laser cutter / engraver in the shop that I have been running for several years now. Along side that I have a machining lathe, blacksmith (coal) forge, and a epoxy model shop. Upstairs I work on leather & sewing / rigging.

I have worked with digital imaging software (photoshop, corel draw) for probably the last 14 years.

The Glowforge will provide a great relief in machine setup and indexing when it comes to the laser side of operations. The wifi shouldn’t be an issue, and will actually free up some space since I don’t have to slave a big PC to the laser.

Looking forward to putting it to the test.


I’ve been using several different tools to create prototype parts, but mainly my Form 1 3D printer. Otherwise I have also used: Objet 3D printer, Form Labs From 1/1+ 3D printer, typical manual shop tools ranging from drill presses, sanders, cutting tools. Alignment cuts on materials, work holding, part orientation have all been a long learning curve over the years. I do OK, but then there’s the occasional and frustrating repeated fail that occurs. Eventually I learn more about the complexity of making things using the tools I have, but then Glowforge is nearly here. With Glowforge I will be able to create precise boxes for molding parts that originate from a master model (3D printed), and making fixtures for my CNC to improve work holding that don’t require using my CNC to make. I run a small Industrial Design service out of my home office & garage, and am on contract with local firms too to assist them from time to time.


In my line of work I use a variety of tools. My most used tool is a router and generally use it to copy templates that I have made from various materials ( plastic, wood , acrilyc ) . As a custom fabricator in the car industry I have many skills that transfer to other things in the world. I have built houses. Built cars. Done electrical played with computer programing , designed and fabricated audio systems, machined and welded metals pretty much everything under the sun. I see this as another tool to add to my line up and further streamline the production of things I design.


I signed up for a laser cutting class last year at my school (it was in the fine woodworking department). I had never had any previous interaction with laser cutters and being in the graphic design program I met a whole new group of people. Everyone was using Rhino to create their projects while I used Illustrator. It was a little awkward at first but I was the only one who had a background using Illustrator and I even taught the teacher a few tricks. He said he didn’t hate illustrator as much now lol. From the very first thing that I cut out, I was hooked. My teacher said, “I had caught the laser bug”


I’m almost completely new to the whole game… I became interested in CAD a few years ago, downloaded some software, took a few classes and finally got a job as the drafter for an HVAC design/build contracting company. I’ve worked a little bit with CNC milling machines and now know a decent bit about CAD, Revit, Sketchup, Microstation, and Vectorworks. Once you get the hang of how to think two and three dimensionally, each system is much like the rest with varying strengths and weaknesses.
My favorite tools are my mind, my hands, and a bridgport (though I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet). I can do pretty much anything with a circular saw and a drill, though I have had to use handsaws and screwdrivers to make do. I just bought the pro in the hopes of jumping into the maker market I’ve been interested in since I can remember.


I design and manufacture fiber art kits and weaving supplies on an Epilogic laser. My best seller is a portable weaving loom and they come in birch wood or acrylic. We also make accessories. We market to independent yarn, quilting and fabric stores across U.S., Canada and Australia and we are heading to London next week to hopefully break into the UK market. I have mixed feelings about my Epilogic experience. It was a great way to get started and we currently rent time every week on the machine to make our products. But, we are required to use Corel and Corel is not affordably compatible with Mac. It makes the mechanics of designing and making changes challenging to say the least. Our Glowforge will change everything about our business and that is frightening and exciting at the same time. Demand just equals our capacity today but demand continues to grow. Adding this machine to our business means moving our business and changing our approach. It is going to be an exciting ride.


Portable loom sounds pretty awesome. Is there a link to your kits?


I am mainly a woodworker (lathe stuff, boxes, furniture and sculptural things). I do a lot of work with hand tools which is very satisfying for me (the physical connection with what you are crafting). I am also a giant nerd so the computerized aspect of making certainly appeals to me. The goal would be to combine the two sides.

With the glowforge, I really want to play with making intricate segments for wooden spheres - a more complex version of something like this.

Pretty much anything with wood is going to be fun for me. Adding in the possibility of other materials is even more fascinating. I can’t wait.


Interesting. I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to make the segments, which have mitres on two sides with a 2D laser cutter.


I have used a 3D printer for the past year or so. Honestly I wasn’t as impressed with it as I had hoped. It certainly wasn’t as plug & play as they advertised it as being, so I got fairly frustrated from time to time. The Glowforge is supposed to deliver that ease of use as well, but I feel that they are much more open about the fact that the machine has settings that will have to be adjusted based on the material that you use, and based on my experience with the 3D printer, I go into owning a Glowforge with the foreknowledge that I may run into some issues, failed prints, etc… I have been an AutoCAD user for about eleven years now, but never delved into the 3D aspects of AutoCAD. For my 3D printer I taught myself how to use AutoCAD in three dimensions, and I only printed things that I designed myself (with the exception of part of one bracket that I obtained from someone else, and one chess piece that a friend requested). I am looking forward to using AutoCAD for the Glowforge and I am also excited about learning Illustrator! (It’s on my computer but I’ve never used it!!!)