Guidance on cutting 1/4" ply

Good morning. Hope you are well! I, like many other “Forgites” are making Christmas presents to take some slack off of Santa. This shows in the availability of raw material, which seems to be at an all-time low. I am attempting to make some of the 6-pack gift carts listed in the catalog. Thanks to whoever designed it. A great idea. Construction takes a significant amount of thick plywood. I’ve only been able to score baltic birch ply in any quantities. Cutting has been trouble-some. I’ve attempted several settings for listed plywood and some suggested settings, but have always run up against some points that would not burn cleanly. Does anyone have guidance that would provide optimal results? A speed of 135 and full power seemed to do—ok. Thanks for any help.


you need to make sure there are no “fillers” in the plywood you are trying to cut.

that is typically the source of most plywood cutting grief.

get a powerful flashlight and hold it up to the wood and see if you see any shadows.

Ahh, ok. Thanks for the feedback. I take it the filler transmits might differently/more easily than the glued veneer/wood

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It will make dark shadows in the wood.

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Most plywood is nowhere near clear enough for the power the GF puts out. However, I have found the birch ply at HD and the maple ply at Lowe’s work fairly well and are usually in stock at the stores. If you are willing to order online, HD carries a line of plywoods made for using on the GF, you will need to mask them yourself. Just go to their website or app and search for Glowforge.

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Good information. Thank you

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1/4 ply is always tricky. Have you considered doubling up 1/8"?


The absolutely worst stuff I ever tried to cut in a Glowforge was HD- Birch. A photo can say more than words

Wow. That’s ugly, I’ve never had that bad of result from it. Is that the MDF core or veneer core stuff?

It is veneer core but the filler is some sort of laserproof bondo. I kept that picture as it was so illustrative that even running the power up to the point it burned out the center the laser could not make it through the bondo.

The plywood I bought has a mdf core. I got all excited when I first got my machine and bought a truck load (hyperbole, but a bunch) of oak ply wood to make things. The only thing I could make consistently was scrap. Since then the only veneer plywood I have used is Baltic Birch that I ordered online.

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I have purchased 3 or 4 sheets of the Lowes Oak plywood, each sheet cut down to 19 x 48 inches which works well for the Pro, It even does pretty good depth engraving most of the time. There is some filler but that is not a bid deal unless it shows in an engraving.

This is that oak.


Hmm, interesting thought. Might give that a try.

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In getting ready for my machine to get here, I bought some 1/8" Maple ply from HD. The 10 piece box! I just got it today and looking at all the sheets, the stuff looks real good. No voids in it that I can see. It reminds me of the plywood I used to buy when I built R/C airplanes. It was from Midwest Woods and they called id aircraft plywood. Midwest still offers plywood in several thicknesses and sizes. I don’t have a price, but it may be worth looking into.

This question is outside our team’s scope. I’ve moved it to the Beyond the Manual so the discussion can continue there.

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