Can this wood be saved? Dramatic gasp

I think I ruined a beautiful piece of sapele 1/4 inch plywood. It has an MDF core, so I used the cut settings that worked for 1/4 inch MDF. It did not cut through. So then I read a few posts about speed vs power, turned the board over, and recut.

Obviously this did not work. It literally burned the masking off, leaving a sticky black goo in its wake. And it still did not cut all the way through!

Here is what I have tried to clean it.
White vinegar - no effect
Alcohol - some of the goo comes off, most of it if I use a toothbrush
Dry Mr Clean Magic Eraser - minor char removed, major areas still look charred.

I am reprinting the file on birch ply, and will stain it mahogany to get the effect I was hoping for with the sapele.

Is there any hope for this poor piece of sapele ply?

I will also contact the place I bought it to ask for their recommended settings.

Thanks for taking a look and hopefully giving this poor wood a new life as something else.



Well, if nothing else you can use it to dial in the settings by testing - and save them as a custom setting in the UI.
I always run my tests on the intended material, so the scrap has value there.


@celesteprobichaux you also might work on placing projects to maximize you bang for the $s. If you had placed this close to a corner, you could use the old circle for testing and the still have room for a new one when you got it dialed in. Unless you won the $500 billion powerball or mega millions,then just go nuts!


Thanks for the suggestion, but this is a guitar front. The circle has to stay where it is.


Then, oops on my part. Have you used MDF ply for guitars before? I would think the mdf would muddy the tone/quality of the the sound, no? Just asking because my woodworking friends told me mdf would be too dense when I asked their opinions on using mdf.

I"m sorry. @djfb, I should have been more clear. It is not a real guitar. I am using this file:

My youngest son, a guitarist, is about to turn 30 (yikes!). I am making this for his birthday gift.



No worries. That will look real nice in that wood.

In my experience sapele is very laser resistant. I don’t even try with it anymore. :frowning:


Thanks. That is the best advice I’ve had yet.

I hate to have to give it, because it’s a pretty wood. It just is very hard to cut and chars like crazy.

It might engrave nicely if you had a precut piece, but I haven’t tried that… but cutting was just not working out for me.

Previously in evansd2 vs sapele:

(and a few others)


I haven’t cut my 1/4" sapele with MDF core, but I bought it from Smokey Hill Designs. He recommends full power/120 speed. (I can’t remember which GF he has, though, so do some test cuts in the scrap wood)

Make sure everything is clean first since it seems to be a less forgiving ply!

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I have found Hand Sanitizer to be great for cleaning up the crud and breaking up adhesives. Unfortunately, it works just as well on the adhesive that holds MDF together. :grimacing:

In extreme cases, I have found that bleach used judiciously can do a great job.


If you can figure out a way to clean it up, you can cut the circle part out and make it into a round photo or mirror frame. I usually save my cut out scraps and cut earrings and keychains out of them to give away. There is plenty of usable space left in both those chunks for that.

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