Best bang for the buck for general practical projects?

So I did a project today and burned through 9 sheets of Draftboard. When I looked at the replacement cost of this I realized that this is not sustainable. I use a lot of 3mm/ 1/8" Baltic Birch that is better on my wallet but sometimes it is just not as stiff as I like, I don’t really like 6mm/ 1/4" as it scorches a lot so I’m throwing it out there. What do you all use when you are going to use a lot for general practical projects?


1/8” mdf from rugby is like $7/sheet, and by sheet I mean 4’x8’. I bet they would change your math. Even without optimization that’s 18 gf beds so your project would cost $7/18*9 = $3.50.

Granted you get more than 18 pg sheet-sized sheets out of 4x8 (mathematically it’s 19.2) but I’m not chasing square inches.

Also granted I haven’t priced mdf in a while but even if it’s triple the cost these days it’s still far cheaper than PG.

Also also granted not everyone is close to a rugby but lots of lumberyards carry thin mdf. Maybe there is one near you? You can check rugby locations here:


I use a lot of eucalyptus white board for prototyping the 3mm stuff and columbia forest for the 4.5mm projects.


4.5 mm sounds interesting. Do you have an online source?


The sheet I got yesterday was 4.30mm, a 4 foot x 8 foot sheet cut down to 20 pieces.


Even that seems to vary.


Thanx, I’ll check this out.


+1 on the large sheet breakdown. It’s a pain but when I’m going through lots of material I go that route.

When I can (do projects for work or other similar) I include the price of material for fill sheet replacement.

All that somewhat off and on topic to say I usually stick to 3mm and 6mm bb.


I agree on thickness, I almost never deviate from 3 mm. For most things I would rather cut two layers of 3 mm and glue them up. The cutting is just so much more consistent; One blown cut and a whole other job to start up? That’s just a waste of time.


Mostly 3mm BB ply, 2 layers glued together if I need something beefier.


Reading this whole thing, and you guys are super helpful as always, my conclusion is that I need to find a good deal on 3mm, buy a butt load, and get over not wanting to do my own laminating.


I generally use Revolution ply $27 for a 4x8 sheet just shy of 6mm but is poplar so it cuts pretty easy. I have preferred 1/4 inch in general until I had to use PG for catalog stuff. I cut the sheet into 5 pieces of 19x48 inch to use as needed in my pro but if you figured 4 per sheet that makes it about $1.37 per sheet which for actual non-MDF sheets is pretty darn good (the last time I bought some it was under a dollar per) They charge some horrendous amount to deliver and I have not made it out so it has been a while sine I got some.


Chinese cabinetry suppliers.

They use cheap-but-decent plywood (seems like poplar core) for the drawer bottoms, and consequently have gigantic quantities of precut GF-friendly sizes available cheaply (or just buy entire pallet loads online).

I got 2000lbs of the stuff from a local laser jigsaw puzzle company that was shutting down for retirement, which is the only reason I found out this type of source exists. If you don’t know where to find a Chinese cabinetry company, track down local house flippers – they almost exclusively use these types of cabinets. Then, figure out who the cabinet company is buying from, or even offer them a slight premium to just sell you some of what they’ve got on hand.

…this idea may be more valid for West Coast folks, but I think this stuff is available in most of the country if you look. It’s basically all I use except for cardboard for prototyping, and TAP Plastics scrap bin acrylic.


I picked up a whole pile of that from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I was trying to figure out what it was used for that got it donated there and I think you just answered my question!
It’s great stuff. It did need a slightly adjusted setting from basswood ply, but every sheet has cut beautifully with the same setting. It’s also got oak veneer on one side so it’s beautiful to boot! I think I ended up with 30 sheets at a buck a piece.


Late to the game, but this is really nice to prototype (and more) with, and only comes out to $3.04/sheet. Cuts like butter. 24 Pack Basswood Sheets for Crafts-12 x 20 x 1/8 Inch- 3mm Thick Plywood Sheets with Smooth Surfaces-Unfinished Rectangular Wood Boards for Laser Cutting, Wood Burning, Architectural Models, Staining


Is the core basswood, too? Does it stay flat over time?

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MDF core and it has stayed flat over time. I find it hard to beat for the cost.


I don’t see if they have MDF centers but they do have some strange geometry…

MDF centers are a deal killer for me.


We have no lumber yards here, from what I can tell. I’m envious of all of you who can just go buy this stuff. I got excited here for a moment when I saw the map, but then the usual letdown…



Sorry I can’t quite tell what you mean by the letdown?