Removing soot from cut cardstock paper

I’ve been working on my wedding invitation design for ages and I think I’m finally done tweaking!
As I’m getting ready to start producing them, I’m wondering if anyone has any tips for how to make cut cardstock less sooty.

The biggest culprit is the scored edge of the card (30/350). This is thicker cardstock (I think it’s 110lb, and metallic) so I believe that soot is inevitable.
Any tips on how to clean them up? Right now I’m just kind of running my hands over the edge a few times to try to transfer as much soot to my hands as I can, then washing them :slight_smile: Thanks!


I use a melamine sponge (those white Magic Eraser type).


If it’s sooty your settings might be slightly overpowered.

Have you done a proper cut test to be sure you’re using just enough power to get through?

#6, if you’re not familiar.

I’d shoot for a really fast speed, something in the 350-400 range, and back into the power you need.


Also have you met my friend the vacuum tray?

You’d probably get a lot of use out of it.


I think I’d go the opposite :slight_smile: actually, it really depends on how intricate the design is. If it’s moderately intricate, you’re relying on the power modulation to power things down accordingly.

If you push print a few times with different settings, you can identify where the motion system becomes the limiting factor.

Through my different systems, I always thought that accel and decel was a pretty figured out thing. Find my max cut speed / power scenario and roll with it. But after a lot of experimenting, I found that by reducing the speed and the power, I was actually able to improve processing times fairly often.

Either way, now the OP had a few different ways to test.


I don’t doubt that, but in terms of soot reduction, generally faster is better. Even better — two light fast passes will probably make even less soot.

Soot is charring in the surrounding material which is almost always made worse by slower speeds- thermodynamics come into play but the basic theory is that if you give the material more time to absorb the energy the heat can propagate into the surrounding material and char.

Of course experimentation with that specific material is probably in order but if char was my top worry, lighter and faster is how I’d go.


The main point is that if it’s an intricate pattern, the system is having to slow itself down anyways, but it’s fighting to also accelerate and go faster. You’re relying on the software to modulate the power up and down, which is absolutely better than it used to be (clean corners and all), but it’s still just a software control, and as good as the programming behind it.

My experience has been the opposite on a lot of the paper based stuff though - lower power with an appropriate speed usually leads to a cleaner product both as far as the soot and the product face.


For removing any soot that does remain (after all the trials with adjustments others noted), when I’ve done cardstock like yours (your pic reminds me a lot of some that I have used!), a slightly damp washcloth helps–I get packs of white ones when I can find them cheap, so I can tell if they are getting sooty enough to where they deposit rather than remove it… and toss into the washer when they need cleaning. This heavy metallic cardstock seemed OK with a very light handling with slightly damp cloth–but my work was not nearly as intricate as yours–which is lovely, BTW!


+1 for dialing in your settings. I cut 110-130lb metallic card stock regularly and, do not have a lot of trouble with charring.

For light-colored (mainly white) stock, I do sometimes use strips of Post-It tape to pick up the any stray ash along cut and engrave lines before even taking the piece out of the machine. That is sticky enough to pick up the powdered ash but, won’t mar the surface of the stock. Then, there is less stray ash to accidentally smear on the surface of the piece. I can generally use one piece of the tape for several passes without it re-depositing anything.

I am typically using a Seklema mat, which provides similar ash containment service for the reverse side.


I use a really soft paintbrush, and just gently brush the ash away from engraved areas. Seems to work really well.

I used the brush extensively here:

Granted this is a bit off topic and clearly you can see I didn’t bother dialing my cut settings in, hence the flashback pattern, but the ash brushing seems to really do the trick without smearing.


BTW, These cards look beautiful:-)! Congrats.


Well, I’d defer to you here, you have cut a lot of paper compared to the rest of us.

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My main problem is soot from scoring. So intricacy does not apply here, it’s just a straight line. I’ve done quite a bit of testing, and whether I do 100s/1p or 500s/20p I still end up with soot. I even tried 500s/10p x2, all sooty. This is what makes me think it’s inevitable and that I have to just deal with removing it. Could be related to my paper I guess.

EDIT: In all cases I made sure to use the minimum power that would do the job

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Would you consider doing the scoring manually, not on the GlowForge? Once you had your setup/ rhythm going, it would be a lot faster than wiping down each invitation. You could make a jig or use a straightedge, then there are many options for what to score it with, such as an embossing tool. Even a delicate dent makes for a nice fold.


Good call, that does sound a lot faster! Silly that I didn’t think of that, I’ve clearly never made a greeting card before haha.

Any tips on how to know the exact center to line up the ruler? I guess a custom jig wouldn’t be too hard to whip up.

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I’m a big fan of jig once, create many. Another simple approach could be to put tiny marks on your design, at the top and bottom of the fold line, to guide your straightedge. Pretty cards, btw!

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Thanks! I’ll definitely give this a try!

I put a small shop vac by my glowforge, and after every job, I give it a once over with a brush attachment, the soft bristles don’t hurt anything internally


Hi I’m having trouble cutting cardstock on a pro - what settings do you use? I have a basic. Was working at 300/55 but design is intricate and not cutting consistently. I used the seklema mat but still blowing…any suggestions?

Hi I’m trying to cut an invitation too and having trouble. Can I ask what settings you used? I have a basic. Looks like you might have used metallic stardream paper? Mine is slightly thicker. Any suggestions appreciated! Thanks!