1 year later - still struggling with wood choice

Good morning,

So I have had my Glowforge for 14 months and I am still struggling with the right wood, how is everyone doing this today? I live in Europe and so I can’t buy Proofgrade materials which is very annoying. I have noticed that the proofgrade samples I got with my machine look like a thin layer of veneer with MDF in the middle. I have also seen posts on here of people saying, don’t use MDF because of the glue.

I have been using Plywood which is ok but super flimsy, I have used Poplar wood which es even more flimsy but both those I can get from Amazon and cut easily and can easily be painted for signs on ETSY for example. But I can’t really find anything else.

i.e the MDF I can get

These are the kind of signs I am talking about:

Small Name Signs

Birthday Calendar and how are they putting the colours on there?

So what is everyone using?

Thank you

I have used proofgrade mostly only when I could get it on sale. I mostly use plywood from a national hardware store chain, they deliver it for free and the quality is fine. I used to get Baltic Birch from local specialty woodworking supply places, but a few years ago the selection declined and prices increased, so since then I tend to only use the first one I mentioned (for nice wood piece.) They also have some nice clear acrylic in thin sheets, designed as picture-frame substitute for glass, and cheap hardboard and hardboard-based materials like “black and white board”, which has chalkboard on one side and dry-erase on the other. The specialty woodworking places do have nice pieces of veneer in different species that is good for certain applications.

Otherwise, I get various other materials from Amazon - mostly thin acrylic sheets. Just takes a while and lots of testing to settle on what works that you can get your hands on.


Yes, Baltic Birch from Finland lets you win the shipping across the Atlantic game. Even very thin it is quite strong and stable. As it is also used in aircraft there are very rigid standards. Russia and Belarus used to provide a large volume to that market, so the remaining market is tighter and pricier. Poplar is pretty minimal in strength but, even in Proofgrade, I prefer that over the MDF-centered material. A visit to your local DIY store will let you know what is available though there is less concern in those cases over issues that a laser would notice, but a power saw would not.

I frequently use 5-6mm wood, especially on larger objects, while many here would not, but there is a lot more choices available in that thickness.


Good Morning,
Fortunately I received a lot of proofgrade material for free when I purchased my machine, $150 of material and gift card for additional $600. At first I didn’t like it because it was hard to glue until I switched from carpenters glue to ES6000 glue. I have been purchasing plywood from Rocklers. A 2’x 4’ 1/4" sheet is $30 and I get about four sheets out of it. I have also purchased wood from a company called “Thin stock”. Very nice hardwood, but expensive. I look for Proofgrade to be on sale and purchase it. If I couldn’t get proofgrade I would probably just use some Baltic Birch plywood equivalent plywood. My machine is only 5 months old and has been used to make boxes and things for my grandkids. I understand what you’re going through with shipping costs. I just sent a box of medicine to Vietnam and it was $4.50 a lb. shipping costs. Good luck with your machine and please post pictures of any projects. I have no issues as far as cutting proofgrade and mdf dust. I did some scoring on a piece of mdf and the dust was terrible.

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I would also use baltic birch for those oversized name signs. Real baltic birch typically comes in 5’ square sheets, not 4x8’.

6mm (1/4") baltic birch will be constructed of 5 stacked layers of birch veneer, each layer with the grain direction rotated perpendicular to the last.

This gives it more strength than most plywoods against snapping at the thin parts of your design, since it can’t easily break along the wood grain, as the wood grain doesn’t all align in one direction.

The only downside to BB is there will often be internal voids or defects that got filled with glue when the plywood sheet was made. Those dense glue pockets can’t be laser cut, you’ll get an incomplete cut at those spots. If you hold a bright flashlight up to the back of the sheet in a dark room, you can usually see where they’ll be and mark them so you don’t lay a cut line over that spot in the wood.


Where do you get it from in Finland?

I found a Swiss supplier of Lasergrade wood, they seem to have their own laser machines - Trotec. Prices seem ok…? its 600x300 - so i may just need to laser a bit off with the passthrough slot or without the crumb tray

He is not saying he purchases the product from Finland, but that it is sourced from there.

The Baltic birch tree originates in the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Baltic birch plywood is primarily produced in Finland and Russia.

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Trotec wood is used by many folk in their Glowforges. A big reason I have a pro is to be able to use larger pieces of wood. A lot of stuff comes 460x600 and instead of cutting a bit of extra off, use what I need, and then have a larger piece of left-over that can still be used for something else. I have a bunch of pieces 38x500 that is outside of the cuttable area, and not very useful for much beyond rulers and bed pins.