Short tips and tricks

Have a short tip or trick that could help someone not make the same mistake as you or have a better way that can be explained in a few lines? Put it here.

I’ll start:

You will save material by cutting it to the size of the piece you want to make. With the GF not cutting to the edges, you will get better use of expensive materials by taking them to the band saw first and then to the GF.


You say, I finally have an excuse to get a bandsaw? :innocent:


True. The extra inch margin is costly as you can’t just shift it around the bed if you put in a full 20x12 piece because then one side is sitting up a bit off the bed due to the crumb tray side edge piece so your material is in there at a slight slant. I end up with a bunch of stuff with uncut sides. The depth isn’t as big an issue because there’s no edge banding piece on the back so you can slide it back some to get to the bottom edge of your piece. 18" wide pieces are not a bad size to plan to use.


Yes, I use mine ALL the time for cutting laser stock


If you can have only one other power tool to complement your Glowforge, the band saw is it.


I love my bandsaw. The only issue is I went cheap 14" so it’s underpowered and too small for any real resawing. I now really want to upgrade saw I can saw larger pieces for the glowforge.


A new bandsaw is on my short list. As is a surface planer and surface sander.
Those are the only reasons I haven’t popped on the Maslow CNC really want one but there are so many things that would be far more useful.

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I picked up a planer a few months ago and it has become another beloved tool. I can’t even come up with any use cases for both tools based on the finish quality out of the planer. It’s good to go and only needs a quick sand to roughen it up a bit so the finish sticks better.


Glad you mentioned Maslow, I still had some empty space in my garage…


I can’t wait for tax money to come back~ gonna have to get me a band saw and a table saw too


IKEA has a “returns area” (at ours it is located in a room near the checkouts) and if you keep a vigilent eye on the place…occasionally you will see a flatbed (flatbed not included) of a variety of wood odds and ends (a door for a cabinet, cabinet top, support wood, etc.) plastic wrapped on the flatbed for a steal of a price. I generally have seen it go for about $30-40…would make great practice pieces for cheap. There will also be open wardrobe cabinets and such that could be used to stand up all your wood in or store things inside…

Also we got the table we are going to use to hold the Glowforge in the returns area for probably 50% off…it had a knick or two…for a shop table! It is a tall table that we will stand to use (or could cut down or get different legs if we decide to.

My tip for the day …


Since Production units are starting to ship, here are a few operating tips.

  1. When the user interface tells you to press the large GF print button, do not press it until after it starts to flash. (Possibly a tip only relevant to Beta and Pre-Release machines) Production units are not reporting a delay.)

  2. If you move the head or gantry by hand (with power off) to the left/right/front or back extremes, do not leave it in those locations. On power up the calibration step may fail and force the motors toward H/W stops and vibrate. This is not a problem if you have not physically moved the head/gantry by hand.

  3. Always ensure that the “Scanning” step has placed the red laser pointer on the material to be cut. This step is to automatically check the material thickness and set focus. If the measurement is taken at an incorrect location the laser focus will be incorrect and result in a much wider kerf and excessive edge charring.

  4. In general try to “engrave or score” before the “cut” step. If you cut first, the cut object may drop slightly with warped or raised material causing the engrave/score steps to be out of focus or miss the material entirely. This is especially a problem with thin material that may be moved by the air assist such as paper.

  5. Never open the lid during the calibration step. It will force a re-calibration or occasionally confuse the S/W.

  6. Wait until the "Cooling Period is complete after a print and the GF button flashes before lifting the lid. If you do not it may force a re-calibration of the head.

  7. Clean the head and mirror access window and the overhead camera regularly or at least as often as suggested in the manual. Use the supplied lens wipes or similar approved wipes.

  8. Make sure debris does not collect on the head or gantry rails because it will affect the accuracy of the laser positioning. Ensure that debris does not collect on the lid rails or hinges. It will affect the accuracy of the overhead camera if the lid does not close squarely.

  9. Seal the exhaust vent and unit exhaust with aluminum duct tape if possible. Small leaks will result in significant cutting odor in the room.

  10. Logging onto the Glowforge app ( with multiple machines may result in an error when uploading a design. Not a big deal. Quick 5 second solution but still a surprising error.

  11. There is just over 0.5 inches of space between the crumb tray bed and a metal air assist port on the gantry. (on my Pre-Release Unit it measures 0.57") Be aware that should you use thicker material or use hold down magnets the air assist could impact the material and wedge itself causing grief from the motors and belts. Nothing more than 0.5" is approved. Allow for material warpage.

  12. Resist the urge to open the lid during initial setup. It will cancel calibration, and probably some of the internal status checks. At best you will have to start calibration over. At worst the S/W will become confused and a power or system reset may be needed. When you turn the unit on for the very first time just leave the lid closed and go through the documented setup process until you get “Ready”.

13: The GF unit does very little that you would notice without a successful handshake through Wifi. Head Calibration is the first visible operation after power on, but it will not even begin calibration if there is no communication back to the GF servers through Wifi.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later. rick.


Nice list! :grin:

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Lot of todos for us in that list. :slight_smile: Thanks!


Not intended as a problem list. Just a list of best practices to ensure users have a good experience. Most items on the list are likely less than complex S/W fixes and so will drop away one by one.


Great list with lots a things to be aware off for all US nooks :smile:
The allow for warpage and stay with 0.5inch may be a nice camera/thickness measurement warning (if doable).

Pretty sure that is opposite what @dan has told us in the past (while I do have material drop in my PRU the counter to your advice is any slight warp over the entire sheet is reduced when the smaller object drops flat onto the honeycomb.

Understood. I purposely used the words “In general” because I’m sure there will be cases when going the other way makes sense. Haven’t run across such a condition myself but I do remember your post about it. The number of times that I have ruined a design by cutting before engraving is many.

Dan’s original advice to do cuts before engraves seems to be temporary advice for the Pre-Release units. The reason given at the time was something about causing the cuts to lose power after a long engrave. For the later Pre-Release and for all Production units the tube issue has been addressed. But I could be wrong. Just going with what is standard laser 101 for all other laser cutters.


No preference on the recommendation any more - there used to be an issue where cuts worked best at the start. That’s gone, so do what works best for you.


Edited my tip about a delay between the user interface saying Press the Print Button and the Print Button flashing. Production units are not currently reporting the delay So it may have been addressed in either the Firmware or user interface for all Production units.

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