Best wood products for photo and more

Hello. I’m pretty new to glowforge but have been loving it so far. I have been Working on some photo engraves as well as some maps, and signs; trying to learn the ropes. I sell things at a local farmers market and I have a decent supply of proof grade materials but am doing some made to order work and was wondering what I could get locally ( aka same day) at a Lowe’s or Home Depot. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

Do you want the best or what you can just get locally?

They aren’t the same thing.

Lowes has a decent Oak plywood that the filler is not totally laserproof. However I usually have to pick through the entire stack to get the least knotty, Revolution Plywood also cuts well but has limited use and does not engrave well. They also have straight poplar wood that is decent and not to extremely pricy,

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Lowes or THD are not reliable sources for anything that cuts consistently with a natural wood finish, but you can find the odd piece now and then. Home Depot sells a line of plywood by Columbia Forest called “Purebond” which is pretty good, but they don’t carry it in-store, you have to order it for pickup.

The next best source locally is a woodworking supply store like Rockler. They have decent Baltic Birch, which is a nice choice for many things.

Beyond that, wholesale wood suppliers like Rugby will have some good stuff.

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I’d actually be interested in knowing information on both. I asked the question about local suppliers because if I run out and still want to work on something I can get it without waiting for shipping.

Ok. Thank you

I’ll check it out. Thanks

Watch out with depending on any supplier, especially local. They can very often not have what you need on short notice.

Wholesale/commercial suppliers are more consistent in that regards, but even those struggle sometimes (i.e. the current pandemic affecting all kinds of supply chains…)

I don’t sell stuff I make, but if I did, I wouldn’t commit to anything I didn’t have on-hand.

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Well, so much of this is up to you. Like take @rbtdanforth’s advice about oak. I personally think oak has too much of a grain pattern for my tastes, and would never consider it for a picture or map. In fact, in general I don’t like oak at all, and will reach for just about any other hardwood first…I find oak (both red and white) to be kind of ugly.

Basswood is well known for its uniformly light color and ability to take engraving well with good contrast, It’s possible to get basswood blanks at Michael’s for example, they sell a variety of planks and other plaque shapes (shields, rounds, etc).

Cork engraves very dark, IKEA carries a lot of cork mats that are great at engraving.

Again, though, this is up to you as the artist.

On top of that, the main benefit for most people with proofgrade is that it’s prefinished. You’ll find almost nothing that compares in that regard.

For me, I like to prototype in Baltic Birch, and then use higher end materials (like maple for bright white woods, and mahogany/walnut for darker stuff) on items that are decorative.

If I were you I’d decide what materials you like (by seeing what you like here and then trying it out), then order them in advance online. Limiting yourself to what’s local will just tie your hands in a way that isn’t necessary… and besides, going to a retail store in a pandemic is just an unnecessary risk.

Lots of posts about where to get woods, but I like this list from @shollg:

Most oak generally does, my experience with the ply is much better…

This is engraved Oak ply

Revell brand is generally good and found at Michaels and hardware stores etc, but Lowes does not carry it. Baltic Birch is great but Lowes and HD birch is especially awful.

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This is great information. Thank you. I have liked the photos I have done on the basswood. I like the contrast on that material. I’ll check out the websites you provided and go from there. Thanks again.