Not cutting through wood

So i’m really trying to avoid using trouble shooting, doing as much research as I can through the threads already created, but I can’t seem to find a resolution. I have a 3/8 inch piece of plywood that I bought from Lowes for testing. I tried to do the free mandala clock design and it won’t cut through the wood. I even did 3 passes on the wood and it’s still not cutting through. I’m beginning to think I was a little naïve when I thought this machine would be easy to learn. Has anyone else had this issue and if so how did you fix it?

My first check would be to make sure the settings are strong enough to go through the wood. 3/8" is pretty thick. Personally I’ve never tried to cut anything more than 5 or 6mm thick, I would guess that you would need at least 80 speed and full power, but even that might need more than one pass. I use 145/FP on 5mm and that’s almost half the thickness you are trying to cut.


My results have been dismal with regular plywood; you have no idea what kind of glue or filler they used to make it, and there are invisible knots and voids everywhere. If you specifically buy Baltic birch you’ll have better luck, as it’s much better quality. Even then, 1/4" is the thickest I’ll use, as that needs 2 or 3 passes to get through without burning.


Moving this to Beyond the Manual since the discussion involves non proofgrade materials.


I just cut a project using wood I haven’t used in months. The very first thing I did was just cut a little 3/4 inch square in an out of the way place to ‘dial in the settings’. What that means is I used a starting point I thought would be good (150/full, set focus, 1 pass), and looked to see if the square cut cleanly. It did, but based on that I then tried 155/full. Still cut cleanly. Kept going up by 5 until I found the point it cut cleanly without too much scorching. Then I set my final setting to 5 below power. This way, once I started my actual project, I could feel fairly certain it would cut the whole thing without messing up.

I know there are even a few files floating around to help do this same process. The little square works well for me.

I do this any time I am using new material or a material I haven’t used in a while in case humidity may have affected it. I keep all my settings written down in a small notebook so I can always refer back.


Cheap “big box store” plywood is pretty inconsistent and, as stated, 3/8 if verging on the limits of what can be cleanly cut.

I’ve had decent results with underlayment, which is 3/16, but it’s certainly not something to use for a project that will be on display. Baltic Birch is a much better option.

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I’m guessing you did not see the threads that discuss the potential issues with using cheap plywood bought from big box stores. Voids, fillers with bondo/epoxy putty which the laser cannot cut thru (any CO2, not just GF) and who knows if even the adhesives used for laminating the layers are safe to laser or breath…

Buy stock from good wood suppliers to minimize issues with the wood.

And for your business, even though material cost may be higher, the time to make your items should drop significantly because you have much more consistent stock and fewer down time issues. Buying cheap materials is rarely a way to save money overall.

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