Testing the limits

This goes out to all you lucky ones that have your Glowforge in hand. Can anyone test the cutting limits for hardwood on the pro and basic. Trying to see if the basic or pro can do a 1/2 cut in one pass for hardwood. My primary medium is hardwood so just trying to figure out those limits since I will not be receiving mine until the end of the year

One of the Pre-Release users, @rpegg , did some experiments with thick hardwood.


Had to cut real slow with significant charring on one pass. Supposedly the tube in this Pre-release unit is a Pro Tube.

Doubt that a Basic could cut that thick in one pass but don’t know for sure.


Now that the units are not totally Beta it would be nice to know the limits of the cuts for one pass for hardwood, anyone that wants to test that with their machine, Basic and Pro, let me know, I am willing to make wood in a usable size (at least 6 to 12 inches in width) available to get the questioned answered. I’m in the Seattle area but I can ship the pieces.

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I’l certainly do it as soon as I get a production model. I’ve got some 1/4" mahogany that refused to be cut on my pre-release. I’m curious as to how a production basic would handle it. I was able to do 1/4" walnut and oak fairly well. Will test out 1/2" when the time comes.


Let me know if I can supply some firewood for the cause.


What kind of hardwood do you have in mind? There are very dense hardwoods and some very light hardwoods, I bet that some would definitely work better than others. Balsa is classified as a hardwood, and it’s one of the lightest woods out there. Ironwood and ebony is one of the heaviest/densest hardwoods and I’m not sure that we could cut through 1/4 of that stuff (I’m even doubtful about 1/8in!)


I’d love to see a “Beyond the Manual” thread on this along with some suggestions for settings. I’ve been trying some thicker hardwoods and am still getting a lot more charring than I’d like, even with multiple passes.

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I am not sure asking how far you can cut in a single pass is the right question because doing two passes at twice the speed seems to cut deeper with less charring.


I use all types of hardwoods from cherry to katalox, I am not a plywood or mdf user so for me its about having a laser upgrade that is going to net me good results for 1/2 with less time, one and done sort of thing. I realize that not everyone has wood to burn, but I am not in that category…so my thought was to see what the limitations are for hardwood, not sure why they think Balsa is hardwood maybe by classification but not in use, poplar in my opinion also falls in that category. Cherry, hard maple, walnut, bloodwood, paduk, morado, jarrah, jatoba, shedua, yellow heart, and acacia…those are some of woods that I have in board stock. I have ebony and tulipwood, not ironwood in lumber but those are for that “What?” price.

If Balsa and poplar were in the hardwood category I can see the one pass and done working even with the basic but I just have not thought of those as hardwoods, what woods have you tried and how thick were the boards and how many passes did you need?

One of the more complete lists of Hardwoods that I’ve found. Balsa is called Balasam Wood in this list.


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Thanks good to have around for domestic stock.

most architects use basswood for much of their model building. from @julybighouse’s list, it’s listed as a soft hardwood. reasonably easy to cut, but also reasonably light for models (we make some pretty large models, whatever we can do to minimize the weight makes shipping or carrying on a plane a lot less painful).


Thanks for the info. I saw a lot of the soft hardwoods on the list…it’s just not something that I use for my wood working projects, especially if it gets handled on a daily bases.

It’s always a trick. Hardwood/softwood has nothing to do with the density of the wood. Hardwoods have a covering on the seed, angiosperm. Softwoods don’t have a covering on the seed, gymnosperm (naked seed).


This is why I’m looking for real use results with woods that get used as hardwoods not just by name.

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I did a couple tests on 1/2" cherry and walnut, at full power and 110 speed one pass goes just past half way, 2 passes cuts thru going across the grain but not with the grain, 3 passes cuts all the way thru but is pretty chary. it takes about 30 secs to do one pass around a one inch square (4" total). It seems that when you are cutting that deep there just gets to be too much smoke in the slot that the laser can’t get thru…
I’ll post some pics later tonight.


I had similar results with .25" cherry, walnut & paduk (with walnut being the worst). My settings were slightly different, and it’s worth noting that I’m using a PRU rather than a production unit. Basically I found that while I could power through in one pass, I had better results and less charring with multiple passes.

Meanwhile, Proofgrade cuts like buttah.


thanks tom