What is the normal amount of smoke to expect when cutting proof-grade wood?

Hi Glowforge Team and Community!

We are new to the forum, just fired up the Pro this week and walking though the first prints. So far we’ve completed the Gift of Good Measure and Snap and Store Box using the Proof Grade Plywood. I accidentally used the Medium Draftboard and there was a lot of smoke. Could that have caused the problem?

Please also note, we have the unit connected to the air filter and activated it in the app before printing. It seems to be working though is super quiet and with less airflow than expected.

Thank you!!


The filter should not be used with PG medium plywood or draftboard as they do indeed put out a lot of smoke and can clog a filter in short order. You also need to have the filter running before starting and a while after to fill up the filter as slowly as possible,


Thank you!!! I am so happy to have this information to avoid ruining the new filter,

A number have people have gotten a predicted unit to install to catch bigger and stickier a later materials. It’s much cheaper to replace a predicted than the hepa charcoal gf filters. (Though filtering things in general is apparently quite pricey.)

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What Wesley was trying to suggest is a pre-filter, not a “predicted unit”. Autocorrect I guess! A prefilter pad, the black carbon filter that comes with most air purifiers, can be cut to sit on top of your Glowforge Air Filter cartridge and extend its life by catching the larger debris. You can find prefilter pads in rolls to cut yourself on Amazon.

That aside, I don’t know anything that makes more smoke than Proofgrade draftboard. The material and the masking both burn very dirty. It’s like a roaring campfire worth of smoke, but won’t hurt the machine at all. :slight_smile:



(sigh)yes. Pre-filter. I caught the other ones my phone tried to introduce.


Ah! Thank you! I was trying to decipher that and remember seeing someone suggest it. I think I’m going to use “out the window” venting when using wood to be safe. I have a home air purifier filter running in the room also but the fumes still seep into the rest of the house from our office. I’ve only printed the 1st two getting started projects which were minor. Hoping that didn’t clog the filter already!

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If you have a window to be venting out of I would by all means use that exclusively. I have a much bigger commercial filter (500 vs 200 CFM) that gets used in the room even in case of near by kitchen odors like popcorn or brussel sprouts and was a real benefit when the fan on my previous machine died a horrid death.

Your filter can still be used in that manner.


When I finally managed to completely seal the extended exhaust run of my laser to the outside there is zero smell from operating it.
A filter is a consumable. It’s function is to trap and remove particulates and toxins, and any filter has a finite capacity, either mechanical or chemical. Then it’s time to punt and replace - like an oil filter in your car.

Oh, and happy Birthday @rbtdanforth! :balloon:


Thank you image

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Hello @MelleV and welcome to the Glowforge Community! I’m sorry to hear your first prints caused you some concern.

When your Glowforge and Compact Filter are properly set up, you may have some harmless odor during printing which will rapidly dissipate. You may also smell something when you open the Glowforge lid after a print is complete. This is not harmful.

However, if you notice a strong, unpleasant or irritating odor when printing, or see smoke, shut off your Glowforge unit immediately. Smoke and fumes could be entering the room in excessive concentrations.

We’ve created a troubleshooting guide with illustrations. You can see it here: Smoke or Fumes During Print.

I see that you’ve already received great advice from our community members. Thank you all!

As already mentioned, materials like Draftboard, MDF, and plywood can cause your filter cartridge to fill up rather quickly. Since it sounds like you have the option, I would highly recommend venting out of a window when printing on those types of materials. Just make sure you change the exhaust setting in the Glowforge App to match whichever method you are using.

If you still feel as though you are seeing more smoke than usual on your next print, then I’d like to take a look at your exhaust configuration.

Please send photos of the following:

  1. The exhaust fan from the inside of the unit. To capture this photo:

  2. Turn your Glowforge off

  3. Open the lid

  4. Using both hands, gently pull the printer arm towards you as shown below:

  5. Move your phone or camera inside the Glowforge on the left-hand side, past the metal rail, pointed away from you towards the exhaust hose, to capture a photo like the one below:

  6. A photo of where your exhaust hose attaches to the Glowforge, where your exhaust hose exits the room, and the path your exhaust hose takes from your Glowforge to the exterior vent or Compact Filter

  7. The exhaust connection on the back of your Glowforge, with the exhaust hose removed:

  8. Any area where you see smoke escaping from your Glowforge while printing

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

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Hi @MorganW ! The smoke filled the interior of the Pro while printing and it did begin to seep out. We had windows open in the adjacent rooms and have a home air purifier in the room as well. It was still pretty strong. This began to happen midway to 3/4 during printing. Attaching the photos for you, please let me know if these capture what you need.

Thank you!!

This might help…you’ve got a sharp 90° bend in the hose right behind your machine…that might be hindering the air flow somewhat. If you can pull the table out away from the wall slightly, or move the machine forward a few inches, it might improve the suction pulling out the smoke from the machine.

What you are describing with the smoke filling the inside and starting to seep out is a definite restriction of air suction. (Might be because of the kink, might be because of a clogged filter. But that usually doesn’t happen in one pass at Draftboard, so I suspect the hose.)

Anyway, it’s something to try. See if it improves.

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Hi All Glowforge Team! Good news! We figured out the issue to be user error - the little notch on the dial was not set to the new filter section. This explains everything.

The unit didn’t seem like it was pulling hardly any air through so I thought it was the internal fan. Definitely advise turning it on before connecting to the Glowforge to confirm it works for any new users.

Thank you all for the fantastic tips and things to watch out for. I’ll correct the tubing to eliminate the bends also just in case, but this filter is no joke. Very powerful!




Seeing that you have a Pro, I think you will want to move the machine at least 18" from the wall as much of most useful oversize materials are like 18 x 24 that will not fit without the passthrough. In theory there is no distance too big but I have found that to be the most useful balance between useful and taking up the whole room.

Hi @Jules! Our table has wheels just for this purpose. It also raises and lowers which has proven very handy so far. We are getting ourselves trained this week (day #2) after just receiving the unit a little over a week ago. The smoke incident happened yesterday so we wanted to solve this before moving forward.


@MelleV, I’m glad to you hear your were able to figure out the source of the trouble. That is great news! Please don’t hesitate to reach out again should you need anything. We’re happy to help!

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