Danger in cutting pre-painted boards?

Hi there. I’ve recently heard something that made me a little leery…was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this. I pre-paint my boards because I just can’t seem to keep my edges clean if I try and paint after cutting. Also much faster if you are cutting several of one item out. That being said….
I recently heard that we shouldn’t do this as some paints are toxic when burned? I use an acrylic paint I buy in sample section at Home Depot. Has anyone got any knowledge on this?
Thanks for your help!

So, not to alarm you but just about everything you laser will emit toxic fumes. It’s just part of the burning/ablation process. Acrylic paint fumes shouldn’t be any worse than most other things you laser, just be sure your ventilation setup is working properly and you should be fine.

For more, check out #4:


I pre-paint wood alot and laser it afterwards. I also mask it (after the paint is completely dry, of course). I use acrylic paints. It makes for a perfect edge, as you stated. I too also suck at painting afterwards and getting paint on the edges.
I also laser wood that has already been stained (dried, of course).
So far, no fires, and I haven’t died from any fumes! :wink:


Most likely just another failbook rumor. I’ve also been painting then engraving for years.


If you want to be certain, and it is a good habit to get into when running the laser, get the SDS or MSDS for the paint you are using. That will give you the combustion products. Then you can math your way into knowing how much of that is vaporized and look up the allowable exposure levels for the specific chemicals. If you are properly venting, you should be able to assume that 80-90 percent of the vaporized chemicals are exhausted or filtered, for conservative calculations, and check your exposure levels.

However, the general rule of thumb is that unless the coating you are lasering contains chlorine, lead, mercury, or chromium, you aren’t very likely to get much exposure to anything dangerous. Acrylic based paints should be pretty safe, but you can always get a respirator if you want additional protection.


Thank you so much for your help!!!

I do that all the time. Just exhaust it somewhere you can’t smell it.

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Thank you! I do exhaust outside so guess I should be good!

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