I am so lost

I am really behind on using my glowforge. I am having trouble finding what kind of wood I can use for 3D signs. I live in Alaska so the only wood I can purchase is at Home Depot kind of store but locally owned. Please be descriptive as possible so I have no experience with any of this but am eager to learn!!


Proofgrade draftboard and hardwood. You can’t use plywood for 3D engraves.

Actually, I’ve done quite a few 3d engraves with ply, and I’m pretty pleased with most of them. Mostly 1/4 inch cherry, maple, and oak ply. Just be prepared for those unexpected voids in the wood sometimes.


This is 1/4 maple ply from Home Depot. Now if you’re wanting deeper engraves, then , yeah, go with hardwood.
Are you thinking of doing 3D layers? If so, Ply works well.


What do you mean by “3D signs”?

Engraving into wood, or layering shapes from multiple pieces? (or something else entirely?)

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Layering shapes

In that case, almost any ply would work. Birch is common and popular due to relatively low price. For parts that will be painted, lower grade material is fine. “Underlayment” is possibly the cheapest (because it will be hidden in construction applications) but perfectly fine for laser use where the surface finish is not important - I assume you’re going to be finishing the signs? You could also use cheaper materials for the rear layers and the better stuff for the more visible pieces.

Ply is cheaper and more stable than hardwood in thin sheets. The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes the core can have all kinds of “laser unfriendly” materials to fill void, like body filler - so be prepared to have some material loss.


EDIT: I missed where you said it was a store LIKE Home Depot but locally owned. :frowning: sorry… But I’ll leave this here because maybe HD still has free shipping for Alaska? It looks like some places in Alaska still have free shipping and if you enter your zip code it will tell you.

I have been purchasing these 10 packs of Columbia Forest Products ply from Home Depot. You can buy them online and have them shipped (not sure if this works for Alaska but usually if you spend $45 you get free shipping) or you can pick them up in the store. They are adding more variety lately, so I’d keep checking. I’ve used the maple 1/4" quite a bit and it’s worked really well for me. I’m still pretty new. I purchased several of the other varieties too but I haven’t had a chance to use them yet.

These fit in the GF without having to worry about cutting them down.


I’m glad the community was able to provide some great information! I’ve moved this thread to “Everything Else” so that the discussion can continue there.

If you run into any trouble, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly at support@glowforge.com.

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