MDF vs STD hardboard for lasers

So I went to Home Depot in hopes of finding a couple materials and noticed they have both MDF and STD. They look nearly the same, but was wondering if one fared better for laser cutting vs the other?
STD is much cheaper.

As always, THANKS!!

Until it is time to visit the doctor. :flushed:


Hmm, I’m not finding any references to STD in relation to wood products. Can you provide any links?

Standard (vs Tempered) Hardboard

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It will most likely vary by manufacturer, and could even vary depending on the batch.
MDF or hardboard are both crap shoots as far as safety goes.
If you’re dead set on proceeding, I’d ask them for a small bit of scrap and burn it with a lighter to see how nasty the smoke is (and what color the smoke is). but otherwise, I’d stick with Draftboard :proofgrade:

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I think you are referring to standard hardboard, which is more generically HDF (High Density Fibreboard) in 1/8" and 1/4" thicknesses.
The same general idea as MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) in that it’s made of wood bits adhered together. But it doesn’t laser the same way. My limited experience with hardboard, and from what I’ve read, it takes more power and chars more.
Hardboard is commonly called Masonite in the US and Canada, after a popular brand. A tempered version is available which is much harder but definitely doesn’t laser cut well. There is also standard hardboard with a white coating on one side, which is probably vinyl so proceed with caution.
FYI, HDF is typically used as the base in laminate flooring. HDF is commercially available in a range of thicknesses up to more than an inch. MDF is common in thicknesses 3/4" and under but is available in greater thickness. There are formaldehyde free, exterior grade, and ultralight versions of MDF too. Look for plywood suppliers or check with a big cabinet making, exhibit/display, or sign shop for sources.

edit: You’re in Winnipeg, there may be a Windsor Plywood there. Good place to start for more choices than big box stores.

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Thanks guys! So ELI5: both are sketchy. Be careful when lasering. Suck it up and just but draftboard. :joy:

Thanks @whitehill I’ll definitely go check there!! It’s just down the street from me. :blush:

If you can find a brand name on the MDF, most manufacturers will have MSDS available. I wouldn’t worry about batch to batch consistency for a product for which you can find that info. But for the less than full sheet “handi-panels” sold by big box stores wariness is in order, the source is usually impossible to determine.
@JeremyNielsen, only in Western Canada, pity :wink:

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