Sparking and Black Dust

I 've been cutting fine on the GlowForge until today. It’s sparking pretty crazy and kicking black dust/ash everywhere. This is the 1/4" Birch plywood from HD with Vinyl Ease transfer paper cover. It did it as well on the Lowe’s birch ply this morning. I cleaned the lense, readjusted my depth (using digital calipers), and am scratching my head. I’ve run multiple different things previously including engravings and cake picks. I’ve done multiple searches using words like throwing sparks, black ash (y’all like this wood for hammers or something), and other word I could think up. . Here’s a video.

Probably just the wood itself. Looked like the air assist fan was running so I think that’s fine. Some material just decides it’s going to spit sparks now and then.

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Just weird that both materials (the Lowe’s has never done that) are doing this…

I’ve seen it on pieces of birch from home depot… and not on others… and all were cut from the same sheet. It’s likely whatever binding agent they used.

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Yeah, the amount of spark is higher than normal, but not OMG high.

Honestly though, it looks like you can either up your speed or lower your power and still get through whatever you’re cutting, and that may lessen the ash

I havent tried lowering the power. This is the 1/4" everyone seems to hate so I’ve based my speed and power on BtM recommendations. This is 140 at Full. I’ve wasted several sheets before I reading how hated this 1/4" was, yet I persist. I’m nervous to waste any more, tho… But i think I’ll run some tests lowering the power. The HD ply is .21 and the Lowe’s is .19…

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Looks fine, and normal for some materials, to me.

My experience is that a bad area is beyond hope, There are just some areas that are laser proof.

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Is your crumb tray clean?

Regrettably some of the HD and Lowes Birch is simply garbage, filled with the most obnoxious things. Glued voids and I remember reading about a razor being found in one plywood panel (


Not that the laser would have had a harder time getting through it :frowning_face:


Define “Clean”…

Did you empty out all the little bits, or could they be part of the issue? Is there any weird reside on it? That’s what I mean by clean.

I scooted the dirt down to the bottom of the tray (gave it a good shaking) and now it’s not as bad, so I concede your cleanliness point. Might need to drag it to the driveway. Can I just hose it down and let it air dry?

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It will rust. I have only ever dumped mine out (if it’s not obvious, one end is open, so you can just pour the bits out into the garbage) and lightly wiped the surface. I’ve seen posts on the forum from people who have given it a deep clean, but I can’t speak to them personally. They’ll probably chime in.

I’m sure Glowforge would want you to know that the official instructions are at and if you do anything beyond that, you’re on your own.

Anyway, it’s good to do even if it doesn’t solve your problem because those little bits in there can be a fire hazard or at the very least cause unwanted flare ups.