Over the last few years, it has been amazing to watch the technological advancements in the maker space. Affordable CNCs, laser cutters, 3-D printers, and more have taken woodworking to a new level. These machines make it easy to create beautiful and fully customizable projects previously impossible for the home crafter. And best of all, these machines take up so little space that you don’t even need a dedicated shop to start making beautiful CNC projects and Glowforge projects.
What is a Glowforge?
If you’re new to the world of laser cutting and engraving, the Glowforge is a laser cutting/engraving machine designed to be small enough to fit inside your home. While conventional laser cutters were industrial-sized machines that required industrial-sized power and ventilation, the Glowforge can easily be run in your office or spare bedroom.
The Glowforge is run by inputting a design file into the machine. The laser then follows the cut path, and the power to the laser is adjusted depending on whether you want to engrave or cut the material.
The Glowforge comes in various models that offer different power and size options. If you are running a business using Glowforge, then the higher-end models offer a lot more size capabilities and upgraded components designed to be run for longer periods of time.
How to Get Started Making Glowforge Projects
Glowforge cut files can be designed in number of programs including Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, GIMP, Autodesk 360, & Sketchup. Once a file is designed you simply have to drag and drop it into Glowforge’s dashboard on your computer.
Another cool feature with the Glowforge is its ability to trace existing images to create new cut files.
One of the easiest options for new users, though, or users without the time to design their own cut files, is to buy or download pre-made files. There are a ton of cut files available on sites like Etsy, Thingiverse, and even directly from the Glowforge community.
Glowforge Project Ideas
Here are a few ideas for either using pre-made glowforge cut files or you can design your own based on these ideas.
Custom name signs are a hugely popular item for selling on Etsy. From nursery signs to door hangers to front door signs there are designs that can be catered to a diverse mix of audiences.
These Glowforge project signs are often made by cutting out the text portion of the sign on thin material, painting it, and then gluing it to a solid wood backing. This creates a stunning relief look that really pops when you see it in person.
Like the ones sold by BearMadeCrafts on Etsy, garden markers are a fun and inexpensive item to add to your garden, give away as gifts, or sell in local gardening shops or online. Their small size means you can produce them quickly and really maximize your raw materials.
There are a ton of different garden marker styles you can choose from. They also make for a good project if you’re looking to make your first design from scratch.
One of the coolest ways to use your Glowforge is to create these puzzle piece-type products. They are designed to be cut from flat materials and then fit together to create a 3-dimensional object.
These hanging planters are perfect for hanging above windows around the house and can be scaled up or down in size to fit various plant sizes. These planters are also a great option to sell online as they can be packed flat for shipping which keeps costs down considerably.
Another fun Glowforge project is adding personalized engravings to everyday objects. The Glowforge can engrave objects up to 2″ tall and has a auto focus height of 1/2″. This means that you can even engrave objects that aren’t perfectly flat like flasks or spice jars.
Engraving pencils make a fun treat for kids and make great personalized gifts for giveaways or business events. You can even get a cut file for a pencil holder to keep all your pencils steady and accurately aligned.
These 3-D map glowforge projects make absolutely beautiful finished pieces. They can be further customized with details like markers and text for birthplaces, wedding locations, honeymoons, etc.
This design utilizes stacking of the cut pieces to create a 3-D effect which really pops when on display.
By combining both the engraving and cutting settings on the Glowforge you can create a unique and fun project for kids like this dinosaur puzzle. Puzzles like this can be created from almost any shape, letter, or number.
These piggy bank cut files are a fun and unique Glowforge project for your kid’s room. Made from 1/8″ plywood and tinted acrylic you can customize the look with different colors and designs for the engraving.
Create your own custom HOME signs with interchangeable tiles to keep the sign relevant no matter the season. There are many file variations available for this design type, so you should be able to find one that best fits your style and space!
Don’t let the smaller size of the Glowforge constrain your abilities by combining multiple panels into a cohesive piece of art. These types of files can be made from almost any design to create a stunning piece of wall art.
Use your Glowforge to cut unique lamps for side tables or the office. Lamp kits, which include the socket and cord, are inexpensive and readily available to complete this project.
Keep track of your clothes with these clothes hanger tags. They are great for sorting kid’s clothes by size or keeping track of your seasonal wardrobes. These tags are also popular with boutique clothing stores who are looking for that something extra they can add to their displays to stand out from the crowd.
Engraved Cutting Boards
Engraved cutting boards are a great product to sell locally to businesses looking to give personalized gifts to customers. You can either make your own cutting boards to really up the wow factor or purchase blanks in bulk to keep the costs down.
Engraving files for these types of projects are readily available for free or you can easily create your own.
Like the garden markers earlier, these Glowforge project keychain cut files make for great gifts to give away or sell locally in gift shops. They can also be easily customized for local businesses or events.
This little plant stands a designed to fit together to create a standing, 3-dimensional piece for holding small plant cuttings. There are numerous other designs with larger footprints for holding small pots as well.
Realtors love to be able to share photos of their clients holding the keys to their first home. Decorative sold keys like these are a fun gift for homebuyers and let the realtor show off with their sold photos.
3-D animal puzzles make for great road trip or airplane activities for adults or kids as they pack flat and are very light weight. There are dozens of animal styles to choose from on Etsy so find a few that look like fun!
Like the puzzles above, this layered octopus combines dozens of cuts to create a 3-dimensional animal that is perfect for a kid’s room or office. These raised style designs open up a world of possibilities once you get more comfortable creating your own Glowforge project cut files.
Pedant lights, like this pinecone style light, can be made in a variety of shapes with the glowforge. Just add an inexpensive pendant light kit and you’re in business.
By stacking various cut layers on top of each other you can make some beautiful relief style maps with the Glowforge. I’m sure if you’ve visited a craft fair in recent years you have seen these maps on display. And best of all, creating your own isn’t difficult at all with an online guide.
Show your appreciation for the teachers in your life by making them a fun door hanger for their classroom or desk. These designs are easy to cut and with a little painting they turn into a beautiful sign.
Flat pack boxes are a great way to add a personalized touch to gifts or for shipping items from your online shop. By engraving the top of the box you can further add even more details.
Final Thoughts on Glowforge Project Ideas
Adding a glowforge to you shop opens up a world of possibilities for personally existing products or designing and making your own. We hope these glowforge projects inspire some ideas for how you can best utilize your Glowforge at home or at your business.
Derek grew up woodworking in his father’s shop and has since gone on to start up a successful woodworking business on Etsy. In his spare time, you can find him mountain biking, skiing, or writing.