Hello fellow Glowforge owners. I need help. I bought sheets of 1/8” Baltic Birch Plywood from Ocoochhardwoods.com. It looks like very good wood. I am having a horrible time trying to cut through this wood. I have searched this community and have tried almost every setting with no luck. The only setting that works (sort of) is full power and it burns the wood horribly. I’m at my wits end with this. It is especially bad when I have to put the 3M adhesive on the back. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
I generally cut my BB using the med maple plywood setting.
To avoid scorching try running multiple passes instead of upping the power. You didn’t mention your speed but it sounds like it may be too slow to avoid scorching at full power.
I have tried Med Maple Plywood but doesn’t cut through. I’ve tried 3 passes at 100% power and it burns it badly. I’ve tried 2 passes and doesn’t go through well at all. I have a Pro machine. The only one I can use is Thick Draftboard setting but it looks terrible.
Oh and I’ve have had speeds from 137-185. It either completely burns it or doesn’t cut through.
Are you sure this is Baltic Birch in particular, and not just another Birch Plywood?
I don’t have much trouble cutting Baltic Birch in a Glowforge Pro. This is 1/4" thick, which I cut at 140 speed and full. The edges come out a golden brown color with the 5 plies visible.
1/8" thick should cut cleanly at probably 160-170 speed.
The only issue is usually the glue pockets in the wood, which won’t cut at any speed.
Did you buy this Baltic Birch recently? I know Rockler use to carry Baltic Birch but they can no longer get it, so they have a different product that I have had good luck with. I gave up buying plywood at Home Depot. Voids and pockets of glue made it unusable. I wish I could tell you what the problem is. I had two pieces of 1/8 inch plywood that looked exactly the same, including number of plys, but purchased from different vendors, one cut beautifully with minimum amount of burning and the other one I had to crank up the power to full and it turned out with unacceptable burned edges. With exception of proofgrade material I start out cutting small stars or flowers on every piece of wood I buy. Just to see what settings to use. Do you have a piece of scrap proofgrade laying around. Try cutting it with the settings for that particular piece and if cuts are acceptable then the wood you bought isn’t good for laser cutting. I don’t know what else to say. I have wasted a lot of wood, mostly because it didn’t cut all the way through and I didn’t test it. Good luck and let us know what the final answer was.
I buy from Ocooch. My setting for the 1/8" is 168 speed at 100 %. Saying that, have you tried the flashlight trick to look for the filled voids? If you go to a dark room, and take a bright flashlight and shine it on the backside (put the head of the flashlight right next to the wood). If you sweep it over the wood you’ll see the spots where the voids are because they fill them with a material that doesn’t laser well, and they will be much darker than the surrounding area. I had a few panels from my last batch that had large sections filled - had to use those for other projects that didn’t need to be laser cut. Good luck - hope you didn’t get a bad batch! I usually go through a batch with the flashlight and circle the darker areas I find with a pencil, then I know where to avoid cutting there when I get around to using the panel.
I just did the flashlight test. It has voids variously all over. I will try the 168 s 100p and see. Thank you all for helping me through this. I will keep you posted.
My setting for 1/8" genuine Russian BB from Rockler is 149/FULL (on a Pro) and never had an issue. It certainly never had any voids.
(Unfortunately they no longer sell it due to the situation over there) (they do sell it again now), but I honestly have been using 5/32" columbia forest purebond Maple more than anything for quite some time now. It’s nicely sanded (unlike the BB I used to get) so it takes masking well when needed…
It definitely is the wood. I cut it on 168 Full and it cut most of it but left various spots uncut. So there are sporadic voids throughout.
And I was just ready to order another batch!
My last few orders of Birch from Ocooch had been fine except for one or two panels (but I also order my thin hardwoods from them and those are always excellent!)
With your experience maybe I’ll try the 5/32" Columbia Forest Purebond Maple that elfguy mentioned - a little more expensive than the birch, and a bit thicker though…
My last batch of baltic birch I got through the local lumber store came pre-finished, looked great but had a different core (not mdf, and not your standard ply) that cut real crappy - It chars like crazy so that I need to wash the soot off the edges of all cuts, and I’ve tried all the variations of settings. Luckily it’s almost all gone, so I won’t have to deal with that in the future!
They have Birch as well as many others such as Mahogany, Walnut, Hickory, and so-on.
Go to HomeDepot.com and search for Glowforge. A bunch of results but not all in GF-sized panels (11x19 is what they sell pre-cut for the GF, in 10-packs…)
It’s free delivery and only takes a couple of days in my experience.
I don’t know whether basswood ply is easier to cut? This 1/8" basswood (Amazon) (basswood core, not MDF) cuts very cleanly at speed 170, power 55, 2 passes.
The surface veneer makes very little difference as to how plywood cuts, it’s more about the composition (and consistency) of the core between them.
Choosing ply comes down to appearance, whether you are looking for a specific natural wood finish, or whether you want pre-sanded, pre-coated, or intend to paint.
I have a stack of GF-sized materials over a foot tall, a mix of different ply, draftboard, and acrylic, plus a few sheets of Proofgrade veneer. I reserve the “nicer” ply (walnut, cherry), the veneer, and the pre-masked Proofgrade Maple for decorative projects. Most times I use the Columbia Products 5/32 Maple that I mentioned, it’s not masked and I have never applied any even though I have rolls. 2nd-most used is Draftboard. The masking can actually be a pain but I have never found a source of 1/8" MDF that is as consistent or as cheap as the Proofgrade stuff (I only buy when on sale…)
Oh Good, trying to catch up on msgs around here. and you tried the flashlight. ya that can drive you a bit crazy. also as a side note the HD white board/chalkboard varies quite a bit too. I used settings that worked for somebody else, but with mine having a different SKU, no dice. had to slow it down a little more.
Even materials with the same sku can be different, and I don’t just mean variations in the material. I’ve had B&W board that had stickers from different manufacturers, but they had the same THD SKU.
Wow, I have not seen that yet. That is nuts.
So I purchased Proofgrade medium draftboard and put it on MD setting and it STILL did not cut through. What the heck is going on? I just cleaned my machine in hopes that is the cause but I can’t believe it affected it that much. I do clean my machine regularly so it wasn’t horrible but definitely needed a cleaning. Has anyone else dealt with this issue?
Ok, so it’s not the material - which is sad, but also helpful in a way! PG material is guaranteed to work, so you need to open a ticket with support. Take pictures of the front/back of your material, and send them along with the date/time you tried the cut. Pretty sure they’re going to ask you to run the Gift of Good Measure - so if that’s not what you tried cutting, cut that on the same board.
If GoGM works, it’s an issue with you design/settings. If it doesn’t, it’s an issue with your machine.
When you clean, are you certain you’re getting all of the mirrors/lenses? There’s one under the left edge of the machine that gets missed a lot!
Yes I’ve known about the laser lens on left side of machine. I clean them thoroughly with the Zen wipes that’s recommended. I did open a ticket with support so I will see where that leads me. So upset. I just paid this thing off and of course it starts acting up.