The Glowforge Guide

A full comprehensive guide to everything Glowforge: how-to’s, cut safe materials, best tools, sources, svg files, selling resources & more. Click on the link to find articles that are easily readable and printable. Check back often as we are adding new articles each week. We hope you enjoy this resource! 

Before You Buy

1.  Machine Overview

Discount Referral Link mention: If you found this page helpful and you plan to buy a Glowforge, please use my link. You’ll save $100 Off the Basic, $250 Off the Plus, and $500 Off the Pro! I’ll receive store credit for some Proofgrade materials. Win Win! 🙂


Getting Started

2.  Machine Setup

3. Glowforge Official Support


Glowforge App

4. Glowforge Wifi Setup

5. Overview of Glowforge App

  • Glowforge App Features & Settings

6. Design Catalog – Ready to Make

  • Overview
  • Printing a Design Catalog design
  • Customizing a Design Catalog design

7. New Design

  • Starting a new design
  • New Blank Design
  • Upload from File
  • Capture from Camera
  • Saving a design

8. Uploading your own Artwork

  • Upload image overview
  • Preparing to upload artwork from Illustrator
  • Preparing artwork from Inkscape
  • Trace a drawing on cutting material
  • Glowforge Premium Clip Art Images

9. Printing/Cutting your Design

10. Machine Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Glowforge only provides Tech Support by Email. Send all requests for support to: support@glowforge.com

Be prepared to wait for a response, especially near gift-giving holidays.


Must Have Tools & Accessories

Safety First:

  • Fire Extinguisher – Keep it next to your Glowforge. The best fire prevention is staying CLOSE to your Forge and WATCHING the cuts for flareups.
  • Laser Safety Glasses – Needed if you use the Pass-through slot on the Glowforge PRO.
  • Respirator Mask – If you’re working with material that can harm your lungs with their fine particulates, cutting Shells, Bones, etc, then this is a must! Includes HEPA filters and be sure to wear your safety glasses too. Also useful for those sensitive to Acrylic fumes and if you’re using strong adhesives indoors.

Machine Setup:

  • Exhaust Port Extension – All Glowforges have a teeny tiny exhaust hose attachment point that requires a lot of knuckle bruising and gouging. This exhaust port extension is the best thing since sliced bread! Securely and easily attach your ventilation hose. Also available in 6-inch Exhaust Adapter for 6″ Inline Duct Fans.
  • Insulated Ventilation Hose – the Secret to QUIETer operation of your Glowforge!
  • 4″ Thumb Screw Hose Clamps – if you often remove your ventilation hose from your machine, these are super helpful. No more fussing with a screwdriver, these twist with just your fingers.
  • Window Vent – Vent your hose out of your window while keeping it closed!
  • Inline Duct Fan – Planning to cut a lot of stinky Arcylic? Setting up your machine far from the window? Sensitive to fumes/smell? This is an absolute game-changer for all the above.
  • Indoor Thermometer & Humidity gauge – Glowforge’s operating temperature range is 60-75F for the Basic & Plus, and 60-81F for the Pro. It should never be exposed to 40F and below.

Everyday Use:

Cleaning:

  • Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes – best pre-moistened towelette for cleaning your glass lenses. Cutting with clean lenses will give you more precise cuts and alignment.
  • Microfiber Towel– Along with the Zeiss wipes, this is my main item for clean up.
  • Plastic / Acrylic Cleaner – Not only will these make your Glowforge machine body shine, but you can also repair any scratches, or remove film buildup from Acrylics.

Gluing:

All of the materials take different glue, there’s not really a reliable all-purpose glue. Think about which materials you’ll work with the most.

for Acrylic:

Leather working:

  • Leather Needles & Thread: A must-have for the aspiring leather worker! Remember, your Glowforge can cut all the thread holes for you!

Wood working:

  • Foam Brushes for applying stain and sealers.
  • General Finishes Water Based Stains – 14 rich colors to choose from. Easy to apply.
  • Polycrylic Water-Based Clear Satin Sealer – protect all wood you’ve stained for durability. Clear Satin has a subtle shine to it in the light. Enhances your stain color. Easy to apply.
  • Silicone Work Mat – These baking mats clean up effortlessly and protect my countertops when I’m gluing and staining projects.
  • 3-Tier Drying Rack – perfect for mass quantity projects, like Christmas ornaments!
  • Shop Paper Towels – Very thick, absorbent. Like paper towels on steroids. I prefer these for wiping off stains from my wood pieces, it doesn’t leave behind pesky fibers.

Software:

SVG is the ONLY accepted file format for uploading into your Glowforge machine. Learn to Love them. The Glowforge Projects Catalog is very limited.   But once you know how to make your own SVG files the possibilities are endless!

Adobe Illustrator SVG Software

Adobe Illustrator – If you’re going to sell your SVG’s, this is what the Pros use. A million features, extensive community, capabilities are endless. Paid software at $20.99 / month [Student & Educator Discount avail]

Sample Tutorial: How to Create a Word SVG Laser Cut File in Illustrator

Inkscape – Gets the job done and Free. Not nearly as robust as Illustrator, but if you only ever plan on tweaking an svg file here and there, than this will be more than adequate.


Laser Compatible Materials

Articles

Where to Buy Materials?

I’ve listed what each vendor specializes in, along with where they ship from in [ ]. Knowing where they ship from is helpful for those rush supply orders!

Acrylic

  • Canal Plastics [ NY ] – Acrylics, including hard to find specialty Fluorescent, Glitters, Iridescent, Mirror, Pearls, Tortoise Shell varieties. Also carry Acrylic Adhesives and Cleaners.
  • Cerulean Tides Laser Supply [ FL ] – The basics plus Frosted, Glitters, Mirror, Pearls, and Tortoise. FREE VIP program.
  • Estreet Plastics [ TX ] – The basics plus Frosted and Smoked. Also carries Acrylic Adhesives.
  • Inventables [ IL ] – The well-known community maker site also offers materials. Besides a wide variety of Acrylics including specialties, they also carry Circuit Boards, Corian, Foam, Machinable Wax, MDF, Metal, and Wood.
  • I-Materials [ China ] – Large supplier on Etsy for very unique Acrylic designs. Use caution with their Celluloid material – it’s more prone to flame-ups than regular Acrylic, don’t leave the cut unattended – though, the tradeoff is STUNNING designs! Great pricing but shipping can be slow.
  • Johnson’s Plastics [ MN, NV, OH, TX ] – They carry EVERYTHING! Acrylics – 2 tone, Fluorescent, Mirror, RowMark Brand. They also have Cork, Cutting Boards, Engraving Materials, Faux Leather, Leather, Magnets, Metal, Wood Veneers, & more.

Leather (Faux & Vegetable Tanned)

  • JDS Industries – Your Faux-Leather supply house.
  • Tandy Leather – Make sure your chosen real Leather is vegetable tanned. Tandy has everything you need for leather-working.

Metal (Anodized Aluminum, etc. )

  • Inventables [ IL ] – The well-known community maker site also offers materials. Besides a wide variety of Acrylics including specialties, they also carry Circuit Boards, Corian, Foam, Machinable Wax, MDF, Metal, and Wood.
  • Johnson’s Plastics [ MN, NV, OH, TX ] – They carry EVERYTHING! Acrylics – 2 tone, Fluorescent, Mirror, RowMark Brand. They also have Cork, Cutting Boards, Engraving Materials, Faux Leather, Leather, Magnets, Metal, Wood Veneers, & more.

Wood (Plywood, Veneers etc. )

Ocooch Hardwoods

Carries MDF core plywoods (which cut really well) and exotic hardwoods.

Rockler

Hardwoods, Plywoods, resin powders, Veneers, sandpaper, stains, glue, oh my!

Wood Thickness: 1/16″ , 1/8″ , 1/4″ , 1/2″ , 3/4″
Wood Sizes: 6×12″, 12×12″, 12×24″, 12×30″, 24×30″, 30×48″

Exotic Wood Species: African Mohagony, Bocote, Bolivian Rosewood, Bubinga, Leopardwood, Padauk, Purpleheart, Redheart, Wenge, Yellowheart, Zebrawood
Domestic Wood Species: Bamboo, Basswood, Cherry, Maple, Red Oak, Spanish Cedar, Walnut, White Ash, White Oak
Plywood Species: Baltic Birch, Cherry, Maple, Red Oak, Walnut

Woodcraft

Hardwoods, Plywoods, resin powders, Veneers, sandpaper, stains, glue, oh my! They also have physical store locations throughout the US.

Wood Thickness: 1/16″ , 1/8″ , 1/4″ , 1/2″ , 3/4″
Wood Sizes: 6×12″, 12×12″, 12×24″, 12×30″, 24×30″, 30×48″

Exotic Wood Species:
Domestic Wood Species:
Plywood Species: Baltic Birch, Finnish Birch, MDF Fiberboard

Wood It Is – sold on Amazon

Unfinished Glowforge dimensions wood! Read our review of Wood It Is, see why we love them!

Wood Thickness: 1/8″ , 1/4″ , 1/2″ , 3/4″
Wood Sizes: 4×6″, 5×7″, 8x1o”, 12×12″, 12×20″, 12×24″

Domestic Wood Species: MDF Sheets
Plywood Species: Baltic Birch, Walnut

Other (Cork, Heat Transfer Vinyl, Pencils etc. )

  • Expressions Vinyl [ ID ] – Carries Siser Laser-safe Heat Transfer Vinyl for fabric applications. Also offers a Rewards program.
  • Widget Co (Cork) [ TX ] – Cork circles, tiles, coasters, and sheets. Offers Free Shipping.
  • Pencils Unsharpened – great for teacher & student gifts!

Where to Find Glowforge SVG Cut Files

FREE

  • FREE SVG Cut Files curated collection – many with Commercial Licenses
  • Boss Laser – Boss Laser manufacturer’s free file download collection.
  • Epilog Laser – Epilog Laser manufacturers’ Sample Club contains all their FREE sample projects.
  • Instructables – Instructables is a community of makers sharing their files. Check listings for Commercial Usage rights.
  • Thingiverse – Thingiverse is a community of Makers sharing their designs. Check listings for Commercial Usage rights.

PAID

  • Etsy – The largest marketplace on the internet for SVG files.
  • Laser-Ready Templates – This laser template marketplace boasts 3500+ templates for sale.
  • Library Laser – 600+ Laser ready designs, Free & Paid to find your next project.

Glowforge Online Classes / Tutorials


Seller Resources

  • Deepnest – Deepnest packs your parts into a compact area to save material and time. It automatically merges common lines so the laser doesn’t cut the same path twice!! FREE – try it. Tutorials coming soon. I’m in love with it, I use it on all my Mass Quantity jobs.

Where to Sell your Handmade Items

Etsy

Etsy is a global online marketplace. Reach thousands of customers looking for handmade goods.

Folksy

The UK’s Biggest Online Craft Fair

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook’s online marketplace lets you sell where everyone is already hanging out online.

Handmade at Amazon

Handmade is Amazon’s new handmade online marketplace.

Shopify

Sell your creations from your own store.

Zibbet

Zibbet calls itself “the largest marketplace in the world that stays true to the definition of handmade.”

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