Removing the carriage plate should be easy

Do you view removing the carriage plate to be hard?
Do you hate it?
Have you put off cleaning the plate?

Removing the plate should only be hard if you have put off cleaning (and so the plate has a lot of buildup preventing it from easily coming off) or you do not yet have the correct understanding of what you need to do to remove it. This post will show a lot of different views of removing the plate and that might help you visualize what you have to do to remove it. I will also go over what I do if I have buildup on the plate. This post is meant to go alongside the support guides on removing the plate. I am only giving a different view. If you are removing your plate for the first time then make sure and read over the official guides from glowforge (also listed at the bottom of the post).

In this post you will also see that I use a compact 5x7 LED mirror to get a view under the plate. The mirror is awesome because it gives you great light, it can be angled so that you can have it out of the way and still see, and it is much bigger then the ‘phone on selfie mode’ option that the GF support suggests.

Unhook the belt
The beginning steps to remove the plate are; power off the machine, remove the print head, and then unhook the carriage plate belt. The glowforge support guides go over two main ways of unhooking the carriage plate belt; walking the belt off the pulley and loosening the pulley. I choose the loosening the pulley option. However, I do not use a L hex key. Instead, I use a hex socket and ratchet. Here is a video of how I remove the belt:

Removing the plate
Now it onto the more dreaded part of removing the plate. The glowforge guide for this step says: “Place your thumbs on the top of the front wheels of the carriage plate. Support the base of the carriage plate and gently pull it towards you. Once the front wheels clear the laser arm, gently pull the carriage plate downwards and to the back and it will detach from the laser arm.”

Here is what I do:

  1. Set thumbs on top of the front wheels of the plate and pointer fingers on the back side (the videos below give a better view of this)

  2. With my pointer fingers, I pull the plate towards me just a little and then let it go back. I repeat this a few times for reasons that I will go into here shortly. Then, once I feel ready, I pull the plate towards me one final time and pull it far enough that the front wheels can easily clear the front edge of the laser arm. At this point, it actually should be easy to hold this position with the plate and so I am going to pause here real quick in the steps and explain two things.

  • The reason why I ‘bounce’ the plate before finally bring it far forward is to get a feel for how the spring is moving and get in sync some with the place. The bouncing helps make sure that I do not feel excessive debris or build up preventing the spring from moving. If you are not able to bounce the plate like I do first, then I recommend taking care of that build up so that the springs can move well. Otherwise, you will be putting much more force on the laser arm then you should need to. Scroll towards the bottom of this post to see what I do if I feel a lot of resistance when trying to bounce the plate.
  1. So back to where I left off in step 2. Once you are able to pull the plate far enough forward with your pointer fingers, then lightly push down on the front two wheels with your thumbs. Then the plate will really just fall off and you can release your pointer fingers force.

So here are two videos that show me doing this with a top view and a bottom view. I also have the belt and assist fan fully removed from this plate so that the video can give a much better view.

View from the bottom

View from the top

Additional views
I have two more views that really focus on showing what the plate wheels are doing when you remove and put on the plate. For these video I have have removed the left sides wheels so that I can easily get the plate on and off with a hand positioning that does not block the view of what the wheels are doing.

View from the side of the wheels when being put onto the arm and then when being taken off:

View from underside of the same thing:

Gunked up spring
So if you have put off cleaning, don’t. It will make getting off the plate so much harder. But if you have, then what I do is use a lens cleaning wipe and put extra cleaning on it (i.e. 99% isopropyl alcohol). I then use a qtip to just gently push the wipe through the back side of the plate and just let the wipe sit there for a few seconds and then remove it. The objective at this point is not to clean off the gunk but just to simply break it up so that the spring can move easily. Here is a video of how I do it with a plate that does have its assist fan on it:

I am sure there are other creative solutions for this but it is just what I do.

Glowforge guide
And finally, here is the guide from glowforge on removing the plate. Make sure and read this guide before taking off the plate:

Steps 1-5 from this guide:

Hopefully this write up is fine in the tips and tricks section. Feel free to move it otherwise.


Do they actually address loosening the tensioner pulley in the support guides? I hadn’t seen any documentation recommending that method - but I haven’t looked in a while. I thought they stayed away from it for a couple of reasons - tension works both ways - you don’t want too much, and you don’t want too little. And, the nut holding the tensioner isn’t a captive nut. Loosen too much and you’ll spend a fair amount of time trying to use a magnet or something to get the nut back in position and reattached.


Never touched the idler. Belt comes off, and goes back on, just fine, in seconds. Only been 4 years, though.


Yup! I didn’t know until I had to replace the pulley. It is actually in that guide that they go over it as an option to unhook the belt:

Steps 1-5.

1 Like

I just did a quick test. Remove carriage plate, remove fan, clean fan and reinstall, return belt and carriage plate - easily done in 10 minutes or less. It would take me at least that long to find a wrench.


This is why my GF has its special wrench set and I keep it very well organized. But I can see people finding the other option for undoing the belt to be preferred. It just depends on the user :slight_smile:


Just popped mine off and back on and timed it. Fan doesn’t need any attention (I’ve never touched it) but it took 22 seconds.


Y’all realize y’all are the above average users :slight_smile:

There are far too many users that wait over a year before cleaning their first time :slight_smile:


You win! I took the fan off for the first time for this test, and one of the screws escaped to the floor and slowed me down. Usually I only clean the fan from the top.


Not trying to compete. I just removed and replaced the plate to see how long it takes for the sake of this discussion. I have never had to clean the air assist fan.

I put that down to running a strong 4" external in conjunction with the mini jet engine supplied from pretty much the beginning, then a 390CFM 6" Vivosum since the built-in died, when I removed it and cut out the grate.

I just get irritated when unnecessary complexity is offered as a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist.


So the wrench option is not unnecessary for those who have broken more than one nail when trying try walk off the belt. I have found a lot of females do prefer the wrench as opposed to the walking on and off the belt :slight_smile:


I recently cleaned mine and HAD to use the wrench. I could not get it to walk off…but I’m a weakling!

1 Like

I personally prefer the wrench method. The belts are fiber reenforced and don’t like to stretch, walking it off forces it to, and I didn’t like to put that extra stress on the plastic idler that is the weak link.
If it were metal, rolling it off would be quicker. That would be a fun project for my Harbor freight mini lathe… :thinking:

1 Like

I took my carriage plate off for the first time last week. I watched two YouTube videos before I did it.

It was so easy to take off and put back on—-now I was nervous the entire time—-but I did it and I know I can do it again.


You did an excellent job on all the videos. I am awarding you the Glowforge Super Hero award.

1 Like


1 Like

I’m a sucker for great process documentation! Bravo!! Thank you!


I felt exactly the same way the first time I removed the left cover. It’s routine now.


Mahalo!!! Amazing guide!

1 Like