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



CNC side: A Tormach PCNC 1100 mill, a Zortrax M200 3D printer, and a brand new Tormach SBL15 lathe.

Analog side: Clausing 5914 lathe, Clausing 8520 mill, KO Lee surface grinder, Miller 200DX TIG welder, Hammond glider saw and the usual peripheral metalworking stuff.

Software: Alibre (now Geomagic Design), SprutCAM. and most recently OnShape. I plan to try Fusion 360 at some point in the future. I may try Microsoft Visio for some of my GlowForge projects in addition to the 3D CAD already in use but expect that I’ll be acquiring some sort of new software for GlowForge use in future.


Laser Cutters:

Full Spectrum Laser Hobby Gen 5 - not a bad little printer at all but very basic and software interface needs a lot of work. Cart wasn’t the most stable, and without perfect tension on belts and wheels would produce wavy lines.

Lasersaur - Really amazing machine. Great UI. Rock solid mechanics for a belt driven machine. Open source with active development and new features added regularly.

Universal / Trotech / Epilog - All great machines, solid performance but very pricey for no real added benefit unless you’re in a high-volume production setting.

CNC routers/mills

blackFoot DIY CNC - Surprisingly capable large format DIY machine as long as you’re only cutting soft materials pretty slowly.

ShopBot PRS - Great machines. Solid performance without all the fancy pro features of other machines
like Automatic Tool Changer and Vacuum Hold Down systems.

Tormach PCNC 770/1100 - Big performance for small shops. Perfect if you don’t need a big work area or have the big budget for a Haas.

Roland MDX-540 - Really, really nice machine with intuitive UI. Excellent for soft materials, never tried for metal parts.

Roland MDX-40 - The 540’s little brother. Good performance in the desktop mill category with nice attachments (rotary and mechanical contact 3D scanning). Like everything else Roland, overpriced.

ShapeOko 2 - VERY basic CNC. Surprised at how limited its abilities are. Stick to soft materials and you can get some reasonably accurate results. Not the best but very affordable entry-level machine.

3D Printers

Various RepRaps (Mendel, Kossel Mini, etc…) - You get out what you put in…with careful building and calibration you can get a VERY good printer.


Ultimaker2 - Solid machine, great print quality.

Lulzbot Mini - Best entry level printer ever used. Started producing amazing prints out of the box and has been 100% reliable even being used daily for MONTHS.

b9creator - Great prints that require LOTS of time and effort to dial in if you’re interested in using 3rd party resins…which is necessary because the standard resins are very limited in terms of material properties and very over priced.

Form 1 - Can produce nice prints but fails often. The newer model claims to be more reliable but only time will tell. Great line of standard resins with useful properties (clear, flexible, hard, castable, etc…)


on the computer side — I’m a graphic designer and so most of the stuff I do will be printed. I love to see, hold and tinker with the finished product.

on the analog side — A few years back I bought a new flat which I decorated. I do sew stuff I often give away, and I do some screen printing both are frustrating and immensely satisfying


this is my current toy im playing with until i get my glowforge. its easy to use but only 3 watts and cant cut much just engrave. and positioning is hard as well. basically like dan stated every laser cutter out here has the issues but glowforge will be different thats why i choose it. put the item in and positioning is done by cameras no more guess work . come on glowforge send me one i need it for the holiday season in my maker shop lol sorry about the video i didnt have fume extractor so i used a vacuum hose to get the fumes out. het it was a great 15$ solution lol

roland bn20 printer cutter
epson 12x16 flatbed printer
graphtec ce6000 24 inch cutter
greaphtec ce5000 15 inch cutter
14 inch cutter
epson 1400
epson c88 sublimation printer
tshirt press
mug press
epson 7600 24 inch printer
enblaser a 3 size laster cutter engraver
2 color screen printing
epson 12x16 dtg printer
corel draw
adobe illustrator


Always been the artsy one in my family, as I got older I discovered I found making physical objects and sculpting so much more satisfying than just drawing alone.

I finished school and spent 3 months in a Science course before I switched back to art, the call was too strong.

I studied Modelmaking, Design and Digital Effects in IADT in Dublin, Ireland. There I was introduced into various ways of making, CAD and backing workshop machinery (including a cnc and vacform). In my the end of the 3rd / begining of the 4th year my course co-ordinator snuck an Epilog past the health and safety officer. This became a huge issue (“You want to let the students use LASERS!?”) but after a few months we were allowed have at it. I didnt use it for my final project, but I did play with the epilog a lot.

After college I interned for a lil bit at SNOW design which is owned by one of my lecturers in college. They had an Epilog Zing at the time so I got to play with that for a while. I then got a job in an Architectural Modeling company and was there for close to two years. They had a trotec that was very badly beaten up, rarely cleaned, slow and just janky. Prob because the pc used to run it was over 10 years old so I could talk to the CNC in the same room. I dont remember the name of the CNC, just that that logo had a sideways floppy disk representing an E in it, thats how old it was. And while my time there may not be favourable I used the Trotec a hell of a lot, the cnc to a degree and their vacform to an extend. Mostly working with CAD and sending files to cut from there.

After I left the modeling company I gave SNOW a dig out with their christmas rush, this time they also had an Epilog Mini to operate along side their Zing. Because of the extensive Epilog use, and how they designed their files, I got a great amount of exp with illustrator, and have since gone back to snow to cut my own designs there.

Oh I also have minimal expirence with a Form 1 3D printer and an Ultimaker. I feel like I dipped my toes into a lot of fabrication pools. One thing I feel I am lacking in is electronics… Need to up my exp with them.

At the moment I’m sculpting and casting items much like I was doing in college, and laser cutting a few bits with the hope of officially setting up my own business beyond the small etsy store I maintain. Looking forward to my glowforge and having it in the same room so I can design, test, edit, tweek and cut without having to make the trip back and forth to another studio.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some other exp in there too… I’ll add to the post if I remember anything =]

Edit: Oh yeah! My SO got me a Cameo for my birthday this year (he’ll kill me for forgetting), designing for that is fun, and Im using it as a tester for paper art and products I want to cut at a much faster speed in the future.


I’ve worked with CNC routers at work for about 10 years now. And a couple of years ago we added a large VMC into the mix, and added a second even bigger VMC a year later. I also have a brideport sized CNC mill at home in my garage that I use for personal projects.

Software, I have used Illustrator, I ran our sticker department for a year at work after we got the printers/plotters to make decals in house. I use solidworks on a daily basis at work. At home I also use solidworks, but have started using Onshape as well. I am a big fan of parametric modeling.


I have used just about every hand tool there is to create many ideas…even down to a dental tool for etching.I enjoy the hands on feel of all of them…but cannot wait to go at the 3d aspect of “The GlowForge”.



  • Zen Toolworks 12x12 mill. A nice machine but the software (Mach3 + CamBam on an old XP machine) is a pain in the rear. I use it for wood and plastics, no metal other than light engraving.
  • Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutter. I don’t do any design work with their software, but only use it to get my files to the machine. I mostly use this as a tool to make templates that I then use for screen printing or glass etching. Not much in the way of finished products come off it.
  • I’ve been using Ponoko for years. I love their service and choice of materials, but the turn-around time between having an idea and getting the finished pieces in my hand is frustrating.


  • Mini mill and lathe from LittleMachineShop.com. I’ve thought about converting the mill to CNC but worry that would get in the way of 90% of the quick & dirty projects I do with it.
  • Sewing machine & serger
  • Various woodworking gear including bandsaw, routers, sanders galore, hand tools, etc.

In almost all cases, my production starts in Illustrator on OS X (I’ve got 15 years of experience with it), then on to whatever the tool requires. For analog work I’ll often print a template on the laser printer then spray mount it to the wood or use it as a guide to transfer punch marks to the metal.

I’m fortunate to have room for all of these things so that I can run out to the shop when an idea strikes, rather than heading out for the nearest maker space 20+ minutes away.

Writing up this list I’m struck by how so few of the things stand on their own — each tool is used as part of a larger process. I might start on the CNC mill, then move to the manual mill, then to some other woodworking tool to finish it. Or sew a garment and then use the vinyl cutter to make a stencil I use to print on it. I wonder what will end up being part of the Glowforge “team” of tools.


On the computer driven side the only things I’ve built are complicated spreadsheets so that doesn’t count… :grinning: I’ve recently designed a few things using Sketchup and 123d make, awaiting my machine to see if they work. My daughter has an older cricut that she uses regularly.

On the analog side I’ve pretty much tried it all. I don’t enjoy working in metal or mudding and sanding walls that much, but I’ve done it. I have a small woodshop in my basement with the standard tools. Over the years I’ve finished my basement, completed a summer house, built quite a bit of furniture and anything else that has grabbed my attention and looked like it would be fun to try… pizza oven, toddlers balance bike, a couple of pergolas…etc.


I spent some time at art school then went on to focus on metalsmithing, Jewelry and now Horology (watch repair/making). CAD/CAM is very important in some of the newer aspects of the jewelry industry, so much so that I taught myself Blender 3D so I could get a leg up on finding a good job designing and making jewelry. After learning Blender 3D I used Shapeways to make my designs because I have always felt it would be nice to make something once and then have someone else do the hard work of reproduction. And now I’m here, with a Glowforge to accentuate my hand skills and my 3d work. :smiley:


Heated/cooled space has always been an issue for me, so until very recently there has been no place for a shop which has meant nothing more than rough carpentry and masonry. I did build and run a small aquaponics setup for awhile, but had trouble keeping the fish alive. Considering the grow lights you could see from outside I’m kinda surprised I was never raided for growing lettuce.

I have two chocolate tempering machines I use to make truffles and other chocolate candy each holiday season. I also dabble in coding and training artificial neural networks. And while it’s not a maker tool I have a robot that mows my yard - it takes a bit of troubleshooting expertise to keep it running. I’ve experimented with other robotic parts as well.

I was very excited by 3D printers once upon a time as well. Then I saw what they could do and decided excellent prototyping tool, but nothing I really wanted to do. It’s the combination of precision and materials that make me so excited for the glowforge.


I’ve used a number of 2.5axis milling machines (bridgeport and some others). I have a Ultimaker 3d printer that I built from a kit.

I’ve used most tools you would find in a traditional machine shop; drill press, band saw, lathe, grinder. Other tools I’ve used: bead blaster, plasma cleaner, dermal, soldering iron, circular saw, reciprocating saw, miter saw, nail gun, drill, and most standard hand tools, I would say.

Autodesk Inventor, Alibre(GeoMagic), Solidworks, some sketchup, cura, 123D.

I’m sure there are some others I’ve probably missed.


I’m a perpetual crafter and student. Professionally, I’m a computer project manager for a Fortune 500, but in my spare time, I’m a tinkerer and a maker, especially in a variety of fabric arts. I have experience with vinyl cutting plotters, commercial and home embroidery machines, and most recently, a smallish long-arm quilting machine named Lizzie, who’s camped out in my living room. She’s completely hand-driven, which is exactly how I want it. Software for machine embroidery is truly terrible, horrifyingly expensive and impossible to find. I’ve threatened for years to start a project to write my own.

I’m also a computer nerd and spent many, many, many hours during college using Illustrator, Photoshop and a variety of other computer graphics programs. I can whip out a mean Celtic infinity knot in Illustrator if needed.

I’m thrilled to pieces at the thought of being able to cut my own plexiglass templates and rulers for use on my long-arm. Those suckers are expensive and never seem to come in the sizes I need. I’m also thrilled at the thought of being able to do custom fabric cutting for appliqués and the like. I love pulling together technology and “old-fashioned” fabric arts to make amazing things. It really speaks to me as a nerd and as a crafter.


I’ve been 3D printing through shapeways.com .
I’ve used their stainless steel, silver, plastics and ceramic.
The software I use for my 3D work is mostly Modo and ZBrush with help from PhotoShop and Illustrator.


Computer-driven: I bought a 3D printer the same week I pre-ordered my GlowForge (day 1) and I have been playing with that almost every day since. I have designed a few of my own pieces in Autodesk 123D Design and I have started playing with Blender (but have not used it productively yet).

Analog: very sporadically (like less than once a year) will tackle a project involving my table saw, router, surface planer, etc.


Prior to Glowforge, all analog.
Dremel, scroll saw, jig saw, table saw, router, razor blades, graph paper, trigometry, geometry, basic school drafting tools like compass and protractor, square, engineering ruler, etc…

One might think it is odd considering I am a software developer and computer geek, but there’s something about doing wood working projects by hand and without computer assistance that is a lot of fun. This is what attracts me to the Glowforge, being able to draw on material and it will cut it.

Though I have started teaching myself Sketchup and basic CAD work to help out.

I am a huge DIYer. I also have a ham radio license. I have created my own antennas. I made a full upright MAME arcade cabinet. A subwoofer. TV stand. I build my radio controlled aircraft from scratch or kits.


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!