Cutting 1/4" Plywood from lowes

I had this Lauan plywood I am trying to cut that is 1/4" thick. I finally just went with thick walnut plywood proof grade settings to cut it with two passes. It did cut through… mostly on the horizontal cuts but really didn’t cut through on vertical cuts. I am curious if this is indicative of some maintenance issue or something I need to do on my machine to fix and not an issue with the wood.

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If I had to guess…it’s the wood.

1/4" plywood from local hardware stores tends to be extremely difficult to cut consistently. They use all kinds of junk fillers, there are air gaps in it…sometimes even Bondo.

I bought a bunch because it was cheaper, when I first got my machine, and wound up cussing it every inch of the way. Used it up and never bought it again.

If you want to check for interior vugs and plugs, hold up a strong flashlight and move it against the back of the sheet. You’ll see the bad spots. Mark them with a pencil and try to place your design around them.


Good info, and I loled because I have been cussing the whole way tonight. I heard there was some good home depot stuff out there so I am going to try that one too…jus twas worried my machine was having an issue of some sort with it cutting horizontally better than vertically. (But really when it comes to this wood and that is it)


I have had pretty good luck with Columbia Forest Products from Home Depot.


There are some such plywoods that are worse than others. Birch was the worst, even though Baltic Birch can be the best. Revolution Plywood is not very strong but has few nasty places and those, straight lines, so predictable, and can be cut with a knife, and is about the lowest price I have found. I had good luck with Oak ply as it was very strong and not terrible with filler but had to look through a huge stack of sheets to find a minimum of knots on the back side. the best I found here at least was at Lowes,


Lauan is pretty low-end material. Most of what the local hardware stores sell is designed as underlayment.

Try rotating your material by 90º, that will confirm that it’s a material issue.

I’ve used a lot of it, but had to use settings that didn’t result in edges as clean as with baltic birch (for example.)


I have been purchasing the Columbia Forest purebond plywood material from HD and have been fairly happy with it. The best part, they ship it right to my house pre-cut. @bwente link above is good, look for any similar that are 1 ft, x 1 ft. 7 in.

I have read a few complaints but very few, and honestly the complaints I’ve seen seem to come from the users that seem to complain about everything :wink:


Since this problem is being seen on materials that were purchased from another company, we can’t offer support for prints that don’t come out as expected. Materials may vary widely from piece to piece, even if they’re created by the same manufacturer. I suggest posting for advice in the Beyond the Manual section of our community. Note that advice in this section is unsupported and is not reviewed by Glowforge.

If you’d like to see the settings we use for a piece of Proofgrade material, here’s how:

  1. Open
  2. Open a design
  3. Choose the material
  4. Click a step in the left-hand column of steps
  5. Choose Cut, Engrave or Score to determine which setting you’d like to see
  6. Then choose “Manual” and you’ll see the default settings for that operation.

Note that materials vary widely, and the settings we use for Proofgrade material might not be safe or effective for a material with a similar name. Should this happen with a print on Proofgrade materials, please let us know and we’ll help you right away!

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If you like you can have someone move this to Beyond the Manual so it can stay available

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Bottom line is that 1/4" materials are always more difficult* and that 1/4" big box plywood is straight up hot garbage. Don’t waste another minute or cent on it.

* Opinion follows. Glowforge will say “oh yeah sure cut 1/4 inch materials”, but it’s definitely less reliable, even with something uniform like acrylic. They cheat on their 1/4" plywood by making it less dense than the 1/8", it’s essentially false advertising. 1/4" hardwoods char too much, 1/4" plywood is unreliable and therefore wasteful, and just in general, 1/4" materials are terrible to try to cut with the laser. People will disagree with me but they’re just glowforge apologists and therefore wrong **

** ok fine, have your opinions, but seriously 1/4" is so much more hassle that it’s easier to just stack two 1/8" layers. I think 1/4" projects almost always look janky anyway, too much char and cut profile issues. ***

*** Yes I know who you are, people who love 1/4" materials. Try not to take it personally but you guys are crazypants.


Now that was an entertaining rant! :rofl: :star: :star: :star: :star: :star:

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The “Lauan” Plywood I got at Lowes is 0.1875 by my Mic. The Oak is a quarter, and is beefier, and much stronger when making a large toolbox. I would expect 1/8" wood would have nowhere near enough strength, For reasonable 3D, 1/8" wood is very difficult. I am currently engraving 1/2" material ~3/8 of an inch deep. It is very hard to do that in even quarter-inch wood :wink:

Depending on both the nature and size of the job a tray for your restaurant bill and credit card looks very good in 1/8 but an 18"x24" serving tray (made on a pro) would look very flimsy even made from such a strong wood as wenge. It is all a matter of scale. This box material is over thick as it is very tiny…

But this …

several times bigger is not.
And this…

Would look downright silly with 1/8" material and even 3/8" would not look terrible. Though the grill looks good at 1/16".

For other things, even 1/8" can be too thick such as for marquetry, and I have found 1/16" Baltic birch great for hinges as I can tie more and smaller together spreading out the strain.

So having an open mind about what materials you use and their thickness will get you places rigid thinking will not,

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