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Getting Started with Glowforge & 10 First Project Ideas!

Are you interested in getting started with Glowforge? Whether you’re looking to launch a new business or take on a new hobby, you’ll love the options by Glowforge that make it easy to jump into the world of laser cutters.

But you might have some questions before you get started. This guide will help you move forward with confidence with everything you wanted to know about Glowforge to help you make the best decision and get started with ease!

Getting started with Glowforge Pro plus 10 fun easy first projects to try with your laser cutter and etcher tool.

I partnered with Glowforge and received samples in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

Glowforge Delivery:

How long does it take for Glowforge to ship?

Our Glowforge arrived a week from the order date, 6 business days after ordering. This is just enough time to get your spot setup and start planning your first projects.

You can expect your Glowforge to arrive in two large boxes. The first box was large and heavy and contained our new Glowforge Pro. Plan on having two people available to lift and move the box to your setup location.

The second box included a variety of Premium Proofgrade materials which let us jump right in getting started with our first projects and testing out a variety of different materials.

Glowforge Setup:

You’ll want to be careful when unpacking your Glowforge as you will want to save and set aside all packing materials. If for any reason you need to return or send in your Glowforge for service, you’ll need the original packaging to help it make it back safely during shipping.

First look at Glowforge laser etcher

Find a space in your home that is open and easy to access with good ventilation. You will need easy access to a window or can add on the air filter to vent that way instead and expanded the options for placement.

We set our up in our master bedroom first right by the window so it was easy to vent as needed, and then with the added air filter we moved it upstairs in our home office to use next to the computer for easier testing and printing.

The Glowforge Pro is 38″ wide by 20 3/4″ deep and 8 1/4″ high. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of space for that with some room to space for placing your printing materials.

Glowforge Premium Software:

You can get started with Glowforge Premium which includes over 2000 free designs and ideas to help you get started with ease. The tool is completely web based and very easy to use.

Customize the design with your own text, sizing, and artwork to make your design perfect for you!

Glowforge laser etch keychain project

First Glowforge Pro Projects to Start With

1. Make Helpful Tools for the Glowforge

Why not start with making something that will help you with your design process and etching later! Here’s three easy projects that you can find free templates for included in the Premium Glowforge membership and community pages.

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Pick one – or all 3 – of these to try. They’re as easy to use as add the design to the design software, choose the correct materials you will print onto, and hit print!

2. Make a Keychain

A next wonderful project is to make a keychain. They’re small so you don’t have to worry about wasting material if you make a few mistakes along the way but this is your time to let your personality shine and try working with graphics, too!

Play round with etching, cutting, adding designs and text, and getting the sizing just right. Here’s a couple examples we made.

Glowforge Funny Keychain Idea
Completed laser etched keychain Pet Simulator

3. Make a Bookmark!

If you have book lovers in your home, a bookmark is a fun and practical item you can make together. It’s a great next step after a keychain as you’ll apply many of your next skills – just in a slightly larger format!

Laser Etched bookmark for the New Testament

More Fun Glowforge Projects to Make Next

1. Make something useful for a hobby

Next, consider your favorite hobbies. Whatever you love to do, you’re sure to be able to find something useful to assist you in your hobby! We spotting this cute Playing Card Box including in the Premium membership that was perfect for my teen that always has a deck of cards on him for showing off magic tricks.

My hobby is board games and I have a nice long list of things I can add to my board gaming. They’re next on my to-do list!

Laser Etched playing card box

2. Try Etching a Photo

A really cool project to try is etching a photo! Look for a photo with high contrast between light and dark colors and that doesn’t have shadows on the face for best printing quality.

My husband had a picture of him he had turned to an art sketch in a photo editor to use as his gaming profile picture. It was a great first picture to use and try out printing a photo.

After this shot, we printed a photo for our friends after their recent trip as a way to remember the fun times together and celebrate their marriage.

Glowforge in process laser etching a self portrait
Glowforge etched self portrait

3. Make Memorable Christmas Gifts

You’ll love making personalize gifts for the holidays or birthdays with something that can be useful, fun, or simply help make the holidays memorable. My husband is all about making cringe-worthy gifts and make a series of gifts for all of his family for their annual Christmas get-together.

Getting Started with Glowforge & 10 First Project Ideas! ornament

He made a set of accessories personalized to each family member that feature his own face in a funny way that will definitely be a conversation starter this year. The gifts included:

  • Bolo tie
  • Keychain
  • Earrings
  • Christmas ornament
Glowforge Big Foot funny bolo tie
Glowforge Bolo Tie Idea

4. Make Something Wearable

For a fun way to share your latest hobby and adventure in laser etching, consider making something wearable! That could be wood earrings, a leather bracelet, a bag tag, a leather card wallet, a tie pin, or whatever you love!

The Premium Catalog has so many designs to help inspire you with ideas to get started.

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5. Try Etching Cardstock or Poster Board!

I made a series of Star-Shaped Bookmarks to pass out to the youth in my church group and wanted to make a card to go along with them. The design included a template for a card perfectly scored to use hold the bookmark. I had never considered being able to etch on cardstock before, and wasn’t completely sure what to expect.

The results were stunning and it was really neat to watch the printer do it’s magic etching the cardstock with the design and a custom quote we added to each card. I highly recommend trying a project with this medium, it’ll let you create beautiful and professional looking packaging if you want to sell or gift any of your creations.

Keep in mind, you will want to keep your eye on your Glowforge to make sure you have the proper settings and don’t burn a hole through the paper.

Glowforge in process laser etching on cardstock

6. Try Etching on a Tool or other object

With all your next experience behind you, it’s time to start thinking outside of the plywood sheets. What things around your home could benefit from being engraved with your name to help the object return back to your home when borrowed?

We own a lot of tools and are often lending them out to friends, family, and neighbors. To help remind everyone who’s tool it is and more easily sort the tools when working on a project at a friends house with a mix of different tools involved.

Glowforge laser etched tool labeling

7. Make Something Purely for Fun!

By now, you’ve had such a fun gamut of different projects that have helped you learn the basics and feel more confident in working with your Glowforge. It’s about time you make something fun and silly that just rewards all your efforts.

I shared an idea with my 15 year old son to create a list of consequences and he would have to pick one to mark of whenever he got in trouble until all 10 were marked off, and then the list would refresh. He actually loved the idea – but morphed it into a spinning wheel of consequences and my entire house full of boys were so excited about the idea.

Behavior Chart Consequences Wheel

None of the consequences are too serious, so these are mostly intended for times they’re talking back or didn’t do their chores without having to be reminded again and again.

Along with it, of course, we then had to make a rewards wheel for those times they’re being extra helpful, kind, or responsible.

The kids helped to make all of the both rewards and consequences and have been having so much fun with this.

Behavior Chart Rewards Wheel

We have been having so much fun with our Glowforge Pro and feel like it’s a great hobby for families and small business owners to enjoy creating and seeing their ideas come to life!

I highly recommend the Glowforge

With the addition of the new Glowforge Aura for home crafters it’s easier than ever to get started exploring and creating.

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So what are you waiting for? You won’t regret jumping in with Glowforge to give you the tool to be creative and turn your visions into a reality.

Visit the Glowforge website for even more information to help you get started.