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.

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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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Keep in mind that you can always run more than one pass. For some annoying ply that I have, I run 5 passes. Two passes at 220/Full, and 3 passes at 220/100 precision power. The idea is that the finer focus on the last 3 passes avoid the previous char and cut through the bottom uncut, but all the lighter cutting means that I mostly have nice toasty brown edges and no char.

The extra time is very much worth it to me to not have to manually cut tricky puzzle piece lines out with an exacto knife!

Try out some multiple passes, you might be surprised.

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