Masking the back?

I just got some Baltic birch and was wondering if it’s necessary to mask both the front and the back. Is it okay to just mask the front when cutting it?

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Depends, will the back be visible in your project? If it is, will that be a problem?

I just did a project where the back was the visible surface, and I only masked that side.

Also, in some cases where the visible surface is really small and the cutout it huge, I don’t mask at all, instead I cut and then sand the residue off the wood.

Shapes like this:

The large center area would just be wasted masking, so I tend to just cut these unmasked and then sand them.


Also, worth mentioning that if you’re worried about significant flashback damage to your wood, you’re probably overpowering the cut.

I would suggest dialing in your settings using #6:

Common problems/questions

If you’re using the right power/speed flashback should be minimal.


One of my regular runs looks just like this - I use plain old painters masking tape on the front and back for these rather than mask the whole sheet.


Yeah that’s definitely doable. They also make thinner masking rolls, if you wanted to go with medium tack stuff. I have some rolls of 6" and 12", but the issue is labor time here. I have a really good sanding setup so I can easily remove the residue more quickly than I can carefully align the mask/unmask.

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Agreed - although sometimes I still mask both sides (especially when cutting 1/8" hardwoods) because even dialing it in sometimes leads to cuts not all the way through, so I power it a little more and if I get flashback, the tape’s got me covered. Easier than ruining a piece of wood that costs a fortune now a days.


I’m more likely to mask both sides if what I’m cutting is tiny or fiddly - if it’s a big flat area it’s easy enough to clean, but I’m more likely to break fiddly bits than not so I err on the side of caution!

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Do you like flashback on your projects?
If the answer is ‘no’, then you’ll want to mask the back.

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