Make your own Proofgrade



I haven’t searched this, but I’m sure I am not the only one that has figured out that you can pretty much make your own PG material with shellac and vinyl transfer tape, right?

It works great. For example, baltic birch, sand very lightly, shellac it, tape it, laser it. Shellac dries within minutes. It’s a no brainer.


Yes, a bunch of people use non-proofgrade material. Lots of Baltic Birch posts in the forums. I’ve used some myself. Also, I like to reconstitute my own Shellac flakes so that it has a better shelf life (unmixed).

Of course, this is a little different than making your own Proofgrade. For example, currently there isn’t a Baltic Birch Proofgrade. Since even if you used the same materials and process it still wouldn’t be actual Proofgrade since Glowforge the company wouldn’t know what you put in it as well as they know their own material.


FWIW, how long does it take you to sand both sides, then shellac one side, wait for it to dry, flip it over, shellac the second side, wait for it to dry. then put your own making on. add the value of that time to the cost of materials, as well as the consistency of materials and knowing how they’ll cut/score every time, then for materials that come in PG, i think the pricing is very competitive if not a better value.

now, if you’re looking to make something like baltic birch, which doesn’t come in PG, then i agree, it’s relatively easy to do. but even then, your thickness and interior materials will vary more than PG will.


What @shop and @markwal said. Nothing wrong with pre-finishing your BB but it will never be :proofgrade: as a) that is a trademark, and b) BB won’t match any of the :proofgrade: settings.


I’ve actually found that Medium Maple Ply settings work fantastically well with BB 1/8th.


Literally, 10 minutes of prep and finishing. Plus, BB is incredibly cheap and pretty dang similar, though not exact, to Medium Maple Ply.

It’s definitely not a replacement. That isn’t what I am shooting for, but when you do the shellac and use the vinyl transfer tape, it significantly reduces staining etc…

People shouldn’t waste their money on painters tape or any regular tape when vinyl transfer tape is extremely cheap for a large roll. A roll that is 50 yards x 24” is $40-50.


i realize that it’s cheap and i have a large roll of the transfer tape i use for BB and other materials.

i think there’s value to the PG, but if you’re happier putting it together yourself, that’s cool. i just don’t think there’s as much value for DIYing the same materials. i don’t think the BB is quite as clean as the maple and you’ll never know for sure how good the core will be until you cut it. but that’s just me.

i DO think it’s good for people to know they can set up a similar process this way, especially for non-PG materials.


as a starting point. the two sources of BB i’ve used have both been a little softer and i had to up the speed to minimize blowback on the underside.


Just goes to show, everyone’s experience is different. I have had to slow just a bit to reliably cut through.


Why do you think the thickness or interior materials will vary more than PG will? I’ve bought and processed plenty of material in my businesses and I don’t see anything about PG that makes me think it’s any better than what I can source locally.

At $10 for a 5’ x 5’ sheet of 3mm birch ply, I can spend a bit of time…


the core of PG is draftboard. it’s solid. that’s part of the argument behind using PG, the consistency.

the core of BB could sometimes have gaps. it’s definitely cheaper, but 60x60 sheets of 3mm BB for $10? that’s a hell of a deal. significantly cheaper than i’m seeing grade B for locally here. what grade is it?

in the end, if you’re happier using DIY BB, there’s nothing wrong with that.


I agree with you. Plus, add in ordering, shipping, and always needing it when you don’t have it yet.


I think as more and more people get their GF, more and more people will try and do all sorts of things – to keep costs down, to push boundaries, etc.

I think that folks may find that certain pre-determined sets of settings designed for one type of PG material or another will work with varying rates of success on other types of material, but that they should never claim it to be PG material, homemade or otherwise. It isn’t PG material (materials that have a certain level of support from the GF company) and a noob GF user may be confused and have expectations that are completely unwarrented.

State that in your experience homemade Baltic Birch of X thickness and prepared in a particular way worked great when using the pre-set setting for a certain PG material FOR YOU, but don’t ever claim it is a PG material. If it doesn’t work the same for the new user, no one is going to support them in correcting that failure.


Ohhh, yeah, some very good advice here… call it DIY prefinished Baltic Birch plywood - don’t call it DIY Proofgrade.

I can just hear the FNLs spinning up in the distance with the legal ramifications of that. :smile:

It’s perfectly okay to make as much of it as you want, just don’t represent it as Proofgrade - it’s trademarked (which is why we have to capitalize it) and can only legally be applied to products sold by Glowforge, which are monitored much more closely for consistency and covered by warranty. Damage to the machine from faux-proofgrade materials would not be covered. Could get into all kinds of messy.

(I’m going to add a couple of words into your title to cover you. Apologies if I transgress, but staff probably hasn’t seen it yet, it’s the holidays.)

No harm, no foul. :wink:


IMO, it’s dumb that you guys are even looking at it that way. It’s amazing how fast these topics get out of hand and off the topic.

Legal issues? Really. Over Shellac and vinyl transfer tape?

They aren’t recreating the wheel. The post was more for people that don’t know that they can do the same treatment to any type of wood to decrease the staining and getting a similar finish.

The whole reason they even did the PG is because in testing they ran into the same issues that people are probably running into that don’t know any better because they don’t do any type of woodworking.

They are just trying to monetize off of it, which is normal, but to get mad because someone is explaining how they do it is just ridiculous. In all reality, they did the PG so that their main product achieved repeatable results which would then lower backlash from people that bought into it expected better results.

My God, leave the “like” in the title, whatever, but you guys are drinking the Kool-aid. Or should I change that to Purple Drink so that I don’t get issues with that?



No one’s upset about it. If you want to make your own, that’s great, and no-one’s drinking Koolaid.

(I’m trying not to be offended by that, because while I personally consider it a really offensive thing to say, I’ve been assured that some people just don’t think about what it implies before they say it.)

No worries though, I’ll be happy to change that back for you. :smile:


Not upset and the issue is not about shellac and transfer tape, everyone supports your right to do this and thank you for sharing, but it is about using someone else’s trademark. You kinda totally missed the point to go on your little diatribe.


Sigh I won’t even comment on most of this as it is…oh well.

However – you missed the entire point of my post. Read it again, with a quiet and open mind. Then read it again.


I really don’t get how I was using someone else’s trademark by simply explaining how they finish theirs. IMO it was simply using it for comparison.

Sorry you felt that way.

Sorry that a few of you felt that way.


I don’t get why because I used the name of a product means that I am using their trademark maliciously. Have none of you used images from Google to trace or copy for personal use? I’m sure a lot of you have used it to make money even. Just sayin’. I don’t get why this conversation went to legal conversation or trademark issues. It’s called DIY. I don’t get why people get butthurt and go down that route when I was just explaining how someone can get similar results to PG.

Do we all have to buy their stuff all of the time? Don’t get me wrong, I will buy PG for some projects, but I also have the ability with a full shop to make my own out of any lumber I buy. Why not be able to explain it to others on a forum that is a place to share comments and ideas so that people that don’t have any experience with wood can see how they (GF) are doing it with their product?

I say Kool-Aid because you guys might have well as clocked in for Glowforge’s legal team over your assumption and running with it. Might have read into it a bit deep don’t you think?

@Jules Don’t want to sound…mean, so to speak, but I think you haven’t encountered many people that don’t care about your feelings much, but I could care less that you find it personally offensive. Sorry buddy. Just don’t feel that way. So be offended all you want. Guess it’s just my type “A” personality. You’re not the first person that i’ve upset, nor the last. Too bad you took it that way on a stupid forum post. Take it with a grain of salt. :sunny:


Oh , on the contrary, there are many people here who dislike me intensely. It’s really pretty obvious. :smile:

On the other hand, for people who might actually benefit from the friendly warning that was intended, and who do not have all the answers, they might benefit in the future from what I posted. I left that there for them.

You apparently need no help. Fine. It’s hard to tell from just a post or two. I’ll let you do your own thing in the future, and take your own chances without unwelcome interference.

It’s entirely possible that Glowforge isn’t going to care a whit about whoever chooses to use the term Proofgrade in whatever way they want. I don’t know. Guess you’ll be the test case.

Should be interesting.