Rookie Mistakes

So I recently got a bulk order. My first reallllly big one. I’m pretty new to the laser/maker/crafter world. So I start printing these keychains today (first batch came out fine, all normal proof grade thick cherry ply settings) and my second print was awful. I mean scrap it and start over bad. I was boggled for a full half an hour before I thought to take calipers to the material. It was significantly thinner than proofgrade settings. Fixed the focus point and BAM. Perfection.

So tonight I went through with calipers and measured all 4 corners of every single piece of material I have so that I would know focus point before cutting and wrote it on the masking in sharpie. Just hoping my mistake will help someone else avoid murdering a perfectly innocent sheet of ply in the future.

If anyone else has any rookie mistakes to avoid I’d love to hear them.

*Note: I’m calling this a rookie mistake because it’s EVERYWHERE in the forums and I didn’t think about it beforehand.


Welcome to Laser Club! The one rule about Laser Club is we don’t talk about Laser Club! (Sorry, bad take on a good movie.) :smile:

Can’t even begin to list mine…too many and still counting. :wink:


Wait I thought it was “Tell EVERYONE about your Laser Club.” So that’s what i’ve been doing wrong … :joy:


That’s a +1, sensible, easy idea ! Thanks for it.


Yes, just yesterday … I did a 2 hr 21 minute engrave … I always check before picking it up to make sure it cut through … but even the pull of the tape bumped the board. I was using bed pins and magnets. But, it apparently could move between the two pins. DRAT! Tried to realign, but, it was a no-go! ARGH!

I had failed to measure the proofgrade board!


Are you (both) saying your Proofgrade materials are not working with Proofgrade settings due to significant variation in thickness? Might be worth dropping support a note about that. I presume they have a spec their manufacturer is supposed to meet, and this may be a quality control issue.


Not always … but, certainly on some. Many have posted about it, and I’ve gotten into the habit of measuring. Except yesterday! LOL


Multiple times, I have put together a design for boxes, enclosures, and the like where I assuming that I am going to use a certain thickness, and then I decide to change the thickness of material I’m using; forgetting to change the relevant portions of the design.

Last week, I spent a good 2 hours cutting and engraving material to put together into an electronics enclosure, across 8 sheets of PG material. When I went to put it all together, I realized that I had switched from the medium material to thick, so nothing fit together. I was less than happy.


If you’re going to use a friction fit to join something I’d measure each piece of proofgrade and adjust your joins accordingly. Many of us have noted that there is variation in the thickness of proofgrade materials. However, this is the first time I’ve read about a piece being so far off it materially messed with focus. Sounds like the OP has a warranty claim, however, as she needs to finish the order more than get a few dollars back (and iirc she has to pay for shipping thereby rendering her claim moot) this seems like the only sensible way forward.


You should definitely notify support if you are noticing some kind of discrepancy in Proofgrade material(s).

What did it caliper at? I see on the website that it’s listed at approx 3/16 (.1875"). I’m not sure if that number has changed or not since the Proofgrade was introduced. My thick walnut (older stock) calipers at .188" without the masking (.2" with), so I assume it’s been the same thickness from the get-go.

I’m not sure exactly how the Proofgrade material height settings work (as far as what they are using for a material height vs the focal point). I see the focal point for thick ply is .208". The focal heights/steps for around that number are: 0.195 and 0.222". So, what I’m saying is, I don’t know if Proofgrade actually autofocuses (which it would if the material height it uses and focal point were the same), or if it’s using a separate focal height measurement, which would “lock in” that focal point.

Did you caliper the initial piece of material that engraved and cut well? What was its thickness compared to the piece that didn’t engrave/cut well?

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So PG settings for Thick Cherry were showing a focus height of .209
My material was calipering at between .171 and .195
The stuff in the .19 range was cutting/engraving fine but all the lower number ranges weren’t until I adjusted focus point.

I’m wondering why the thick cherry focus height is .209?

If you are producing a lot of anything, obviously going faster is better. I would invest some time in experimenting with manual settings. Start with the PG settings, switch to manual, and see if you can find any combination of increased speed/power and decreased LPI that gives you satisfactory results.

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That’s exactly where I’m at. This order needs to be out faster than I’d get replacement material, and it’s a wash with cost of shipping anyway. And I was smart enough to order more than I needed for this project because I knew something would happen along the way that caused a mess up (probably me, not too proud to admit user error.)

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That’s what I did, but I didn’t adjust focus height. I cut a full hour off each print by bumping power and lowering LPI to the point where the print was still pretty.

Edit: Oh this was your tip … sorry, i’m braindead first thing in the morning. Coffee not working yet.


I also feel like I should mention that this particular pattern is just really finicky with all the tiny lines and details. I’m wondering if the materials would have handled a less intense print better. I’m thinking probably.