Masking paper size

I’m new to this and trying to get everything I need before my GF arrives. I am going to buy masking paper but I’m not sure of the size I need.

If the max material size is 18"x20" but the cutting area is 11"x19" would I need to mask the whole 18"x20" board? or only the 11"x19" cutting area. I am debating between getting 12" wide masking paper or 18" wide.


I bought a large roll of masking tape to cover the whole area… I never use it.
your best bet is get a 6 pack of 4" masking tape, its my GO TO for everything,
I do have a roll of 6" masking tape for bigger ‘jobs’ – once your are comfortable with settings and materials, you will mask less, and light sand more, – really on most wood, a couple of swipes with a sanding sponge gets rid of any soot, and a LOT less weeding!!



I recommend the 12 inch stuff. You can always cut smaller pieces from it if you need to.


what @beerfaced said. 12" means you can easily cover an entire sheet. most of your full sized sheets will bet 12" tall and you can cut/tear off smaller pieces.


I mask both sides . no sanding 12 inch is the ticket.


the one issue I have with the 12" (and larger) is it rips in assorted places, and its a PIA
unless you buy some kind of dispenser, you waste 1/4 of the roll, just trying to get a full sheet, the smaller stuff manages better and does the same work without the frustration, and if you buy stuff directly from Glowforge, its pre-masked for you.



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I think that may be a technique thing. I never have significant loss and I use a box cutter to trim it off the roll, no dispenser.


My vote is the 12 inch. i have a dispenser i sit on and pull the masking up onto the board. I then roll it with a roller…takes seconds and saves time sanding!



These people have all been doing this a LOT longer then me… I say go with the popular opinion!!!

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Ok so even though it says the material can be 18”max normally you would use 12” material? Then the 12” masking would cover the whole thing.

I’m sorry if I sound dumb with this but I am a very hands on/visual learner and I’m trying to learn as much as possible before it gets here but without being able to actually see it and use it yet I’m struggling with some aspects.

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You could go either way. The 12” will probably be more manageable and it will cover the whole cut area. If you were consistently using 18” material and masking it regularly, then the 18” might save you a little time. FWIW, most people just use 12x20” sheets.

One thing I would try to avoid is having masking overlaid with masking, which can happen with smaller rolls. Lay a strip, then lay another strip and it overlaps slightly - this can cause variation in both cuts and engraves.


Ok that makes sense. Thank you all for the help! I think to start out I will go with the 12”


I have a roll of 12" and just lay my material on it so that it fits, then lay an equal amount right over the top of it…sandwiching the material inside. Trim it off with some scissors, then run a brayer over it. I’ve wasted next to nothing. Works just great.


The 12" masking the OP and others are referencing is something called vinyl transfer paper. It’s not vinyl, it’s a paper based product commonly used by people making vinyl decals & lettering that allows the vinyl to be adhered to a surface like a glass door & the paper masking removed. It’s a low to medium tack adhesive and removes easily. It’s commonly found in 6 or 12 inch by 100 yard rolls.

It should unroll fairly easily and apply to something like plywood without a lot of fuss like tearing and sticking to other stuff. It gains its adhesion by using a roller (printer’s brayer) or plastic card to squeegee it onto the material surface. It needs the pressure to activate the adhesion to be more than minimal tack

Masking tape like that from the big box stores found in 4" rolls (like painters tape) is a higher tack adhesive - even the blue or green medium tack varieties (run far away from the light cream colored masking tape - that’s a high tack).

The problem with narrow rolls like 4" is you’re going to either have the slightest and even imperceptible gap between rows or overlaps between rows. The gaps will cause more power to be delivered resulting in a very thin line of darker engraving. Overlaps will result in less power getting through the overlap line and thus a line of lighter engraving or possibly a mis-cut.

Transfer paper is the thing to use.

BTW, I only mask the top surface. For the bottom I use either newsprint or white copy paper on the honeycomb bed as a sacrificial layer. It’s quicker than masking and just as effective in preventing flashback.


Additionally, buying the 12” rolls will cost significantly less per sq in than buying traditional masking tapes.


Here’s a link of what you’re looking for. I’ve purchased this one in the past.

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This is by far the BEST answer ever! - it should be made into a Wiki Post!!!

It’s almost as if someone already did this, check #2:

Definitely read #2, you’re paying too much longterm.


Thanks @evansd2 , I haven’t used them but ~$40 for 100 ‘yards’ versus the one i bought for 100 ‘feet’ is way a better buy!!

I have developed a technique of applying the masking that works for me.
I leave paper or tape or something completely along the loose edge so that it doesn’t grab the roll and become impossible to get loose next time.
I unroll 6" - 8" or so of masking and lay that on my board - hopefully straight :slight_smile:
Then unroll and smooth down with my hand in couple of inch segments.
Once I finish the board and it is straight, I cut it off, leaving paper or something on the roll edge.
Then roll with a brayer (a roller on a handle). The brayer is more helpful than you would first imagine :slight_smile:
Since I don’t use my glowforge all day every day and I have a small space to work in, this works for me.