Determining new Cut Settings

So I’m having trouble cutting through 1/4 MDF from Home Depot. From the existing topics I’ve seen some people cut it just fine with PG settings, some with custom settings and some seem to have issues no matter what. I seem to be in the last category…

I wanted to ask what process people might go through to determine cut settings. I’ve seen lots of great ways to do this for engraving, and lot of tips scattered in these topics, the matrix, and the shared spreadsheet with community fed settings. But I’m having issues even through all that. I’ve gone through cleaning, multiple passes, and so much more.

The “best” setting I can get is 150/full/4 passes on a pro. It cuts (barely) but chars a lot. PG settings for thick draftboard don’t cut through, the setting the spreadsheet is 150/full/2 passes which burns up still but doesn’t cut. I’ve tried tons of options with different speeds, different powers, different passes and just can’t figure out a good way to go about figuring this out.

Does someone have a good process they go through to determine cut settings? Figuring the best settings for something by varying the different settings. I know the basics and focusing issues but I’ve tried everything I’ve found in these groups and everything I can think of past those and am wasting too much material.

Your help would be appreciated…

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Yes. I use this method:


I’ve done a similar set of tests, but my issue is trying to figure out what settings to use. I’ve gone up and down on power, speed, and number of passes… and I have only cut through 2 times out about about 15, and those burnt up really bad with lots of char…. I need help with how to best handle thick material I guess is what I’m asking.

You may have purchased MDF that uses a glue that’s resistant to lasers…and sadly that’s not something you can tell by looking at it.

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1/4 ply is never fun or easy. I will double up on 1/8th if possible to avoid the headache.

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Home Depot will buy different wood from different mills at different times or in different regions as available to them. These different products will be sold under the same SKU, so you can’t really tell what you’re buying. A lot of the wood will be unsuitable for laser cutting.

I would suggest using/donating that MDF for something other than laser work, and buying some MDF from a laser materials supplier online. Here are a few options, all of which you’ll be able to cut in one pass, sometimes at even faster than Proofgrade Thick Draftboard speeds:


We were hoping to use a large sheet with the pass through … if we simply can’t find a good material in that size, we’ll have to adjust plans but we only found what we needed (at least here locally - or through our other shops we’ve used) at HD… but I realize it may just be material not suited for it… I was just wondering if there were tips on how to determine best settings… as this isn’t the only material we’ve had to go through issues with (although we finally got those eventually)…

But thanks for these vendors… 2 were new to me – having options recommended are always great – have you used any or all of these? Do you have personal recommendations on any of them… Thanks

I’ve used all of them, they all cut in one pass on your Glowforge. I buy the packs from CraftCloset most often. They’ll cut at a faster speed than Proofgrade, but the end result looks the same.

As for something local you can use for passthrough jobs, HD stores do carry a single type of wood in stores that should be consistent store-to-store and batch-to-batch and cut easily with your laser.

I’ve never bought the 4x8’ sheet. I buy the 12x19" pre-cut packs HD sells online from this same manufacturer. They’re made by a company in my state, so if I order them online, they ship fast (and free) and show up at my house in two days.

But their plywoods have a soy-based MDF core, which is very lightweight, and will laser cut at very high speed in one pass consistently. It engraves well too.


Thanks for the details… and very nice job on that engraving … thanks again

I was wondering if you know the settings you used for the GS2 Awards 1/4 MDF? (and the Craft Closet as well if you don’t mind). Thanks for the help - GS2 shipped VERY FAST!!! They said USPS online but actually used Fedex and got here amazingly fast.

I know the Craft Closet 1/4" MDF will cut at the Proofgrade Thick Draftboard settings no problem. It’s been long enough since I bought from GS2 that I don’t remember if that’s the case for theirs as well. Do a test cut of a 1" circle or square or something to check. If it doesn’t cut through, slow the speed by 10 at a time until a test does cut through. But it’s probably also just the PG setting.

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For the GS2 I think the best setting I tested is 127/Full(Pro)/1 pass. I ran the test SVG with diff settings and that was the point it seemed to cut no issues. Faster speeds worked but had small areas it looked like it just barely didn’t cut through (but you could push it out if needed).
Thanks again for your help. I like these suppliers so far.