Tips For the Inexperienced

masking, gorilla tape, calipers and magnets are top on my list.

I should mention that a bunch of different types of magnets are useful. For paper, some thin ceramic disk magnets are fine. For material 1/8" or thicker the weak ceramic magnets don’t hold the material down very well and can actually jump off the material onto the head as it passes over. The head has it’s own magnets and is mounted to a heavy ferrous metal plate. You might wonder where your magnet went or watch your material be dragged across the bed if they are too weak. I use larger thin rare earth magnets for the thicker material. They are about the size of a quarter and only twice as thick. And very, very strong. If you use a magnet too thick then the air assist port can ram into it as the head moves.

You’ll learn what not to do.


I’ve been collecting weights in anticipation of getting the GF and picked these antique irons for about $10. The bottom weights are detachable so the are lower profile. I already am a big fan of magnets, but will likley be collecting more of those too



Start picking up “scraps” to practice designs on!


That looks like it could be me :slightly_smiling_face: Well maybe not the ones spanning the width of the car. But the only time I use the sunroof on cars is to put long pieces of stock through for the trip home from the big box or lumber store :grinning:

(When I bought my first Mercedes - used- my son was with me & during the test drive the salesman was talking all about how luxurious the leather was, how nice the ride, etc and my son piped up “huh, dad will have 2x4s sticking out the roof before it’s home a week”. The salesman looked appalled :grinning:)


Love to see those irons. My grandmother used those when my Dad was a boy (when they cooled too much, she tossed them out the back door to cool the rest of the way in the yard – and once almost clobbered my Dad :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ).


I just added a tip to the Wiki:

I don’t know if this will always be true, but if you have a design that has a lot of engraving, orient the bulk of the engraving in the horizontal direction in the GFUI. I just tried a design that was about height:width of 3:1, and if engraved in a vertical orientation it would have taken 27:15 minutes whereas if rotated 90 degrees the time was 19:36. No other changes. This was a vector engrave. May not be true of raster engraves.


Since engraves are done in a rastering motion, it would seem to apply regardless of whether it was a native vector or raster source. It makes sense because the motion changes for the head are smaller if the engrave line of travel is horizontal. For instance, a 3"x1" engraved block where it’s 3" tall by 1" wide would have 3" of vertical height at 100LPI requiring 300 increments to the gantry in the Y axis and a lot of short strokes on the X. Flipping it on its side would give you 100 increments to the Y axis and 3 times longer X travel so it’s changing direction 3 times less as well as requires 3 times less acceleration ramp up/down.


Nifty tip!

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That’s a great tip! :grinning:

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Great tip, and not just for individual pieces to do landscape, but arrange the other things to engrave in a long row.


Great tip! I do this almost without thinking, but it may not be obvious. Just keep in mind that the engraves look different if rotated, and the woodgrain may matter to you. (I’ve ruined projects by rotating them, forgetting the woodgrain rotates too, which wasn’t the look I wanted.


Hi Dan, Can you or someone explain to me how to figure out if you rotate the design on a woodgrain – what it would look like one way versus another without cutting it twice? …or is that something that has to be experienced to be taught?



Mostly it’s experience & visualization. But while you’re getting it, you can grab a woodgrain background image off the web and overlay your design on it in your design software to see what it will look like. Just make sure to delete the image before you send it to the GF.

Or if you really want to get nearly exactly what it will look like, instead of a generic woodgrain image off the 'net, take a picture of a piece of PG with the masking off (you can put it back on afterwards) and use that as your project background. Then you’ll be able to see what it will look like on PG.

You can rotate the background pretty easily to see what it will look like in both directions.

Or get adventurous and put the material into the GF on and angle (you can get longer pieces that way if ever you need to squeak out a bit more than a normal orientation will allow - angle both the material and the design – the diagonal between the cuttable/engravable corners is longer than either the X or Y axis). Material placed at an angle can give you some pretty unique patterns with projects too.


James — I had never thought of doing that! So far I have mainly worked with acrylic, but am looking forward to trying out some woodgrain projects. Good ideas on how to view it. I honestly don’t think I would have thought to do that ahead of time! Good tip! Thank you.

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That came in handy! It really does make a difference when you look at it that way! Thank you for posting.


Just an old-laser-guy tip :slightly_smiling_face: Lots of folks have these tidbits. It’s a great community here sharing things.

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I have a couple from my Great grandmother. Useful when you have no power and need an iron :sunglasses:


Yes - that’s exactly what I do. :slight_smile:


If you ever buy your own pieces of plywood or any wood and need to cut it down to :glowforge: dimensions - try and do both directions. I always make sure (when cutting down a 4x8 ft piece that some have grain in the length (like :proofgrade: and most purchased 12x 24 pieces from suppliers) as well as across the width . It definitely makes a difference when cutting living hinges and of course depending on your design, what the outcome will look like. You can always rotate the design in the GUI to see what it looks like with the :glowforge: camera. Just my 2 cents…


I do the same when cutting a pile of plywood for my Glowforge. I couldn’t tell you why as nicely as you did; but I just figured sometimes you want the grain horizontal and sometimes you want it vertical on the bed. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, so I figured that, at the very least I wasn’t hurting anything to get two directions.

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