Tips to Minimize Soot when cutting?

I experienced my first try on Trodec’s Walnut Veneer MDF 3mm (1/8"). Basically it’s veneer hardwood with MDF sandwiched in the middle. Proofgrade settings doesn’t cut in one pass.

I been tuning the settings for a good cut that I’m happy with. However no matter how many passes or any combination of power or speed or passes theres soot that needs to be cleaned that comes off. I am trying to get that similar result when cutting proofgrade there isnt any soot that rubs off. I’m learning how to make inlays (letters in a badge 1.25 inch in diameter. The letters are tiny so I’d like to avoid the soot cleaning after tapping the letters in to keep my labour cost lower. I timed myself and I’d have to charge $5-10 more to cover my time on a step I hate doing on an otherwise enjoyable project.

I prefer proofgrade but I live in Canada so its much easier for me to buy the wood up here for my shop and I want my pieces look consistent as it differs enough from Proofgrade to be noticeable.


If you mean soot on the surface, masking paper is the best way to prevent that.

If you mean soot on the edges, for small pieces you can shake them in a bag of salt like @jbmanning5 does.


Yes the edges! This is new wrinkle in the learning quest to make perfect inlays. I will try that! I was reading in other laser tutorials and there isn’t much advice to get that nice amber sootless edge other playing with settings. Maybe its impossible for this wood on a Glowforge. I hoped because it came trom a laser machine supplier there is a setting sweet spot


I’ve yet to find the sweet spot for MDF. There is always soot when I cut it. I keep a large bin of rice next to my GF and just put the pieces in there and shake the bin. That usually takes away most of the soot.


I’ll have to try rice. I’ve set pieces in a box with baking soda in the bottom to help absorb the smokey smell. Seemed to help some … But didn’t have a long time to test.

Faster than salt but not sure will work for you on something that small. I use this for much larger designs.

I use the large dispenser with toothbrushes for 3D type cleanup.
The wipes work better on the edges though.

Economy method.

Great for edges


This is actually a comfort to read this as I been stubbornly trying to figure it out. Even three passes still soot. I only ever cut proofgrade wood/ply and spoiled with their clean sootless cuts

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I been using baby wipes but if this is better, I will try

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I was using baby wipes as well. They seem to work pretty well. I’ll try those walmart ones next time I drop into Walmart.

Routing back to this again. This was always a pain to cut and I haven’t tried it for about a year.

This time around after many passes (like 6) the laser wont cut through the other side. I only had issue with the Trodec Walnut plywood. I pushed that piece out of frustration and I eyed it so a fire wouldn’t start

Anything else cutting fine. But this wood, it. Just. Won’t. Cut. Through.

I dont use walnut but I really want to expand into richer wood colors. Any suggestions?

IIRC you live in Canada. The Columbia Forest Product plywoods are available in Canada from Home Depot. In the US they are test marketing 10 packs of them cut down to glowforge size and people on the forums seem happy with the product. While the 10 packs don’t appear to be available north of the border, the same material in larger cuts is.

I have the same problem. It makes easy projects into a dread. Sandpaper took too long and was tearing my veneer off. I used my old electric toothbrush last time. I keep an old used head in a drawer just for soot now.

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Clever. Good tip. I use the disposable electric brushes and the batteries & brush always have plenty of life in them when I toss them (my wife says they should go, they go :slightly_smiling_face: ). This gives me something to do with them.


I have a Dremmel with soft tips. First I use baby wipes or small amount of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. Then if the wood is being stubborn, I use my Dremmel with the soft attachments (they’re like polishing tips).


Great idea, thanks! I’m going to have to go dig out my Dremel, now.

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