"Best" choice of wood for GF

I have some questions for those of you who’ve had a chance to run different types of wood through the GF. Most of my currently planned projects will be with wood, so I’m curious to know if any of you are forming preferences about the best type to use. I realize, of course, that “best” is a subjective term, and personal tastes always play a part. That being said, are you noticing that any one type of wood takes better to laser cutting than another? Perhaps gives sharper lines or cuts, chars less, or is easier to clean up? And is there a significant difference between a piece of proofgrade wood and a similar piece of the same species purchased from your local supplier? Any thoughts and feedback would be appreciated.


I appreciate your understanding in your question, it is quite subjective, I just wish I knew a bit more about the types of projects you are planning.

Some very general things.

Proofgrade, if it fits your project at all, use it. Very consistent and the :glowforge: team has done all the hard work of figuring out settings.

Avoid pitchy woods like pine and red oak to whatever degree you can, go more with maple and ash.

When using NPG plys, Baltic birch works well.
As a rule, fewer plys are better as it is the glue that the :glowforge: will trip over more often than not.
Anything with knots is right out as the power required to cut a knot will be so much different than the rest of the piece.
If you have never worked with a type of wood, buy enough extra to experiment with before cutting for reals.
That is all I am thinking of right off.


That’s the sort of feedback I’m looking for. Thank you. My projects will involve cutting logos into wood, both straight cuts and eventually 3-D bas relief engraving. Most of the time, the wood will be painted afterward, so I’m not particularly concerned with any one species’s lightness or darkness, since I usually won’t be staining.

As for my experience, I’m no woodworker. I can saw, sand, and stain as well as the next guy, but anything other than those basics is beyond me. Once I get the hang of the GF, I’ll probably start experimenting with mounting the painted logos (most of which will be round) onto a stained and finished circular wood base - the kind you can buy at most art supply stores. But if proofgrade is significantly better and/or easier to work with, then I’ll certainly use it.

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Ah! with the additional info… Look seriously at MDF, Super consistent and will take paint well.

Good luck.


Draftboard may be a good fit for your needs as well - all the benefits of Proofgrade except the surface appearance. Perfect for painting.


I believe MDF been discussed a couple of times and that MDF from one manufacturer might take to the laser quite differently then that from another.

That’s not to say ‘stay away from MDF’, merely that one can’t guarantee that all MDF will work great.
… he said, not ever having owned a laser cutter, nor used one.

When I get my GF, I’ll go to the closest place where I can buy MDF and give it a try. If it works - bingpot, if not - keep trying.


Seriously @dan, I love the concept, I love anything :proofgrade: just drop that name. Worst thing since 3d laser printer. Anyone over 50 is going to avoid the Draftboard!


All totally true, when you find an MDF that works well buy as much from that one batch as possible so you will have good numbers for as long as possible.
I hate wasting half of my stock of a material getting the settings down. This is why even as I gain experience I still love :proofgrade:


In general I’d agree, except it actually did an exceptionally nice job with red oak as well? It was messy inside the GF and produces a lot of smoke, but did a stunning job.


Is there a rough cost already set for Draftboard? I can see myself using it a lot!

I am going to be VERY interested in seeing the price point comparison of Draftboard to baltic birch ply. I was very excited to see that in the update, along with a few other things.


draftboard sounds a lot like hardboard.

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bingpot! :grin:

If MDF can be inconsistent from one batch to another, perhaps I should avoid it at first. After reading Dan’s post elsewhere about draftboard, it sounds like a very good solution for my needs. Since most of the seals and logos I manufacture will be painted, I don’t need to be concerned with how pretty the surface is. I have zero experience with laser engravers or CNC routers, so I’d prefer to rely on the GF’s preprogrammed settings to compensate for my rookie ignorance. I’m sure that eventually I’ll want to experiment with the settings, but I’m thinking that presets will get me up and running fastest. Before you become an expert marksman, it helps to figure out which end of the gun to point at the target. That’s about where I am on the learning curve at the moment.


Gonna go out on a limb here since I have absolutely no inside knowledge… PG plywood is just two veneers with an MDF/hardboard type a material in the middle for consistency. The draftboard might just be standard PG plywood with the outside veneers removed. Maybe added thickness to the inner ply to be the same overall size. Would cut the same and prototype the same as the Proofgrade Ply.

That left a bad taste in my mouth to say. Next thing you know I’ll be speculating on when the Pro 2.0 will ship. Don’t want to be that type of person. :smirk:


is this a known thing? i’m not saying you’re wrong, but every bit of mdf i’ve used has been pretty similar.

not a bad guess. also, the power of a brand like proofgrade is that they don’t (and almost certainly aren’t) getting every product from the same supplier, so they may not necessarily save money by doing a move like that instead of just finding someone else, or using a different product line from their supplier.

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Laser grade MDF should be OK as the glue is chosen to be laser-able. From other sources it may not be and might vary according to supply chain changes because it isn’t a consideration for normal use.


Yes MDF can be quite different. I bought some MDF from the local Lowes and it cut like butter and was great material for prototyping. Went back the next week, bought some more and had a very hard time cutting it. Settings were completely different. If I looked very closely at the two pieces of material there were slight differences in the size of the particles/strands that held it together. Hard to see. Probably glue changes also. Every week it’s a crap shoot on which of the two the big box store will sell. The Home Depot also alternates between the two. I’ve become accustomed to waiting until the good stuff is in stock before buying.


interesting, i’m guessing the glue is probably the key differentiator; i bet they have a number of suppliers that get rotated as needs arise.

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It’s taking off!