Painting proofgrade woods

Try the Draftboard if you are painting it. (Plus is, it’s about a third the cost.)


Just buy baltic plywood. Cheaper and unfinished and pretty consistent.

If you don’t know where to find it, just search the forum for “baltic source” and you’ll see it discussed many many many times.


I have Baltic birch. The problem is I can’t seem to get a good cut on it. Some parts get cut out and others dont… if I do two passes, the middle layers get burned right through. Plus the masking. I bought some vinyl transfer tape, and it was awful. Laser burned right through it and it didn’t even stick properly. So unless I can find some good masking tape and I can figure out how to cut it without burning, I would do it.

Hmm, that might actually work.

I just tried an analine dye on a piece - it colored beautifully and very evenly.

Oh if you could possibly share a picture, that would be wonderful!

Just an offcut and some red dye that I had mixed up:


1 Like

Oh not bad. That looks pretty good. But I wonder if my clients will eventually notice that it’s not real wood under there :joy:… And they are pretty particular about wanting wood. I wanted to do starboard and then stick on the maple veneer but I won’t be able to paint that hmm… unless I buy veneer from somewhere else… And then we run into the masking and having to figure out settings issue facepalm

They are finished becasue that’s what makes them “proofgrade”. Without the finish they would just simply be wood…

I second the idea about Baltic birch. You might try and find another source as the manufacturer can make a difference. The stuff I use cuts similar to proofgrade.

There’s been a lot of talk about masking as well. I’m not sure what is available to you, but here’s some info.

Where do you get your BB from?

Make sure it’s real Baltic Birch and not just Birch plywood. Then try the 3mm stuff first using medium maple PG settings. It should cut just like PG. If you have an issue, drop the speed 5 tics.

Birch ply is less consistent than Baltic Birch because the glues are different and you’ll hit knots and glue pockets.

Once you get a feel for it, you can use 1/4" but I find that to be a bit more variable in performance and run my own cut calibration testing against every batch.

While you’re testing I’d go with no masking or blue painters tape as your mask. That comes in 3 or 4 inch rolls if you look hard and that works fine with less effort than the skinny stuff. Try not to overlap it - butt strips against each other.

Or just sand it with an orbital sander & 150 or 220 grit paper.

I’ve made a couple of purchases from, and they have unfinished, unmasked plywood for sale. Theirs is only hardwood on one side, versus the proofgrade which is on both. Boards are slightly thicker as well, getting closer to actual 1/4".

Come on, man:

MANY MANY TIMES. Do the required research, it’ll actually be even faster than asking again.

I have painted the Maple plywood and used it for my backing board on my plaques & they come out great. The painted surface is very smooth & no sanding is required. I use the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Gloss. It comes in a variety of colors. I have tried painting the draft board but it does not take paint very well. It seems to absorb the paint & the surface is rough to the touch.

1 Like

Depending on your application, you might also try
They have pre-painted baltic birch plywood with a finish similar to proofgrade. You can get it with or without masking. It obviously isn’t proofgrade, but it does seem pretty consistent and WoodGallery uses it to produce some of their own high quality products. I’ve used it, and to me the price is reasonable, especially considering that it takes care of most of the finishing.


I use mainly Baltic birch. I have a craft business and make many Christmas signs, ornaments and pins. I cut 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8. It does suck because there will always be a burn, you just have to take a little extra time and sand it. I don’t do 2 passes. I set the speed slower at full power,(speed 120) for 3/8 and speed 135, full power for 1/4. For 1/8 inch use the setting for pro ofgrade medium maple pIy. I did find out that sometimes it won’t cut all the way through in some spots. That’s because of the glue. Sometimes a sheet will be perfect meaning no glue hang ups and sometimes not.

1 Like

I have to disagree here.
I am working on a large sign project, and the draftboard has a really rough looking finish after painting. I sanded it lightly to make sure any of the fibers were laid down, then used Montana Gold (really good spray paint) to put on a thin coat. It looked really bad. Sanded with 320 grit, which usually works well between coats of spray or other paint, and sprayed another couple of coats, repeating the same steps. It always looked like a rough surface. I don’t know if it just kept soaking into the draftboard (which is basically just mdf) or raising the “grain” or what.

I got some medium proofgrade maple ply and sanded off the finish. Then, sprayed the same paint on it. One coat, and it looked really, really good/smooth. Touched up with another coat, without any sanding, and they look really good.

1 Like

I had the exact same experience.

What thickness are you cutting? I’ve had very good success using 3mm Baltic Birch (that I buy from a local wood store). The 6mm (1/4") is a little trickier. I’m not cutting 6mm anymore, I cut 2 layers of 3mm and glue them together instead.