PG Maple Ply : Finish?

Anyone know if there is a finish applied to the Med Maple Plywood?

I am interested in finding some locally sourced stuff (up here in Canada) but I want to see if it’s the same. Found a source for both side sanded but don’t know if it’s the same and the PG stuff is so nicely finished.

It has a satin clear on it.

Thought so! I’ll order the cut sheets from my supplier and shoot my own satin clear on it


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It is almost certainly not the same. Glowforge is working with suppliers to source Proofgrade materials to their specifications for consistency. So even if what you find there is similar, it will not have the quality controls applied. For example, it is quite common for there to be knots or voids in the middle layer with common plywoods.

To directly answer your question, I believe all Proofgrade is currently finished.

None of this is to suggest you can’t use locally-sourced materials. Many people do that. If you search for paper transfer tape, you will find links to good masking material to apply to such to help prevent smoke staining.

Just be sure to have a digital caliper so you can accurately enter the material thickness. Many people will use the Proofgrade settings of a similar material as a base to experiment in finding good settings. Be aware that different lots of non-Proofgrade material may require changes to your settings.


Over the course of two jobs that were 1000 two sided 1-1/2" tokens each, it came clear to me that for production the proofgrade as a time saver really shines.

No voids, no sanding, staining or finishing - and is already masked. The job starts by engraving and cutting the finished pieces.
I will note however that weeding that many pieces, taught me it was much quicker to remove the mask first, and use alcohol as a solvent to clean them instead.

For those of us who have the ability, preparing our own materials can save $. But not everyone can, and even though I could, for a large customer order the time savings is money also.


I am sure it’s not the SAME, but shipping to Canada for heavy sheet goods is very pricey (and I just tried, doesn’t seem that GF can even ship to Canada)

Its more of an issue of wanting a bit more of a nicer finish than just baltic birch.

Thanks guys!

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I think it’s likely that they’ll ship Proofgrade to Canada once they officially start shipping machines to Canadian customers.


As @tim1724 said, I suspect they will start shipping to Canada once they start delivering units to Canada–and I would certainly hope that the cost to ship would not be prohibitive.

There are lots of people who are using non-Proofgrade, and there are lots of types of wood that are not available in Proofgrade. And others have mentioned that prefinishing does make some of the cleanup much easier.

I’m sure you’ll be able to make it work :slight_smile:

All PG ply has a finish. If you like/dislike it is up to you. :wink:

Can anyone recommend a specific product that makes a nice coat similar to what we see on the PG maple ply, suitable for application before cutting? There are a lot of options and I have zero idea which ones may be superior. I am also not sure if I should be looking at brushed or sprayed products.

Seems like this is the right sort of thing, but it’s nitrocellulose… which sounds extra flammable!

Do we want polyurethane instead? Like:

Did you ever get a response or have a chance to test out the different finishes? I was reading your other thread and didn’t see any conclusions there either. I’m really curious what you thought was best, because I’m in the same situation right now and I don’t have the time or funds to buy and test multiple sealants :sweat_smile:

I did learn some things, looks like I forgot to post a followup.

I didn’t test exhaustively but determined that a satin-finish water-based polyurethane finish turned out a lot like Proofgrade finish. You need 2-3 coats with light sanding in between.

A spray-on is maybe slightly easier for doing a small piece, but is much more expensive than a can of brush-on product. If you are doing several full sheets, I think brush-on is easier and it is definitely cheaper.

I tried a wipe-on water-based poly too and it was harder to use and more wasteful than brush-on… at least for flat sheets.

I have tried both of these and felt like they were pretty much the same.


Good luck!


Thanks. I remember when I first started, I swear I was using some type of clear primer that allowed me to apply a clear coat and have a great finish…but since I only had automotive paint in my house, I am sure that is what I used. Of course I ran out a while back, and now I actually need it, I went to buy more auto paint…and the primer I swear I was using either never existed or has been discontinued, so I’ve been scouring the forums for solutions.

This wood is Baltic birch ply, and seems incredibly thirsty, and after I engraved and removed masking, I feel like all the time I spent sanding was wasted because there are now splinters again on the surface. I have terrible results just spraying a clear coat on it. I’ve also got Varathane Ultimate Polyurethane (oil-based) spray that a friend gave me…but that has had pretty awful results for me too, I must be doing something wrong because it’s always sticky, no matter how long I let it cure, and sanding it makes it look dirty since sandpaper dust gets stuck in the stickiness.

I’m going to head down to home depot and see if they have one of your recommendations, I think they carry one brand and not the other. Thanks again!

The BB is pretty thirsty, that is what I was trying too. I am sure one of those products will work for you but try a small can first. :slight_smile:

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All the BB I’ve used needs a fair amount of sanding to get to “proofgrade”-level smoothness, and if you apply finish before sanding it does indeed soak it up like a sponge. I don’t sell or print in volume (other than the ear savers) but if I did, I’d be looking for a supplier of pre-finished material.

It seems like there is a lot of woodworking activity in Canada, I’m sure there must be scroll-saw suppliers or similar that would offer suitable materials.

I’ve used Minwax forever, I had never seen the Varathane until recently - Home Depot must have switched at some point (Lowes didn’t come along until much more recently here.)


I don’t have a logical reason for this to work but I’ve found that staining the BB ply first makes it much less thirsty for the clear coat. (works with both solvent and water based stains)


I sanded the BB first, then ran it through the GF, then I had to sand it ALOT more because the masking I put on made it splintery again. All total I spent more time sanding than designing and lasering.

Then I put a couple layers of shellac bought at home depot, then finished it with a couple layers of the water based polyurethane, Home Depot here doesn’t carry Minwax, I’d have to go to Lowe’s for that. I thought the finish looked great, even though it ends up being slightly darker/golden than PG Maple.

But I can see price comparison, adding in the finish, sandpaper, probably about 4 dollars total per sheet if I think of it cost wise…but the extra labor makes buying PG worth it, I just hate paying shipping, and the shop is always out of stock of the things I don’t mind buying alot of. I don’t know of any local lumber places though, I only know big box stores around here.

My only issue with the BB is that it didn’t burn like PG Maple. The person I was working on a project for wanted the engrave to be dark, and when I tried to achieve the same color with the BB, I could hold it up and see light coming from the other side. So, I need to order some more PG, or just not show people the PG stuff at all so they have no comparison.

Your best with Baltic is to try and go low and slow, I think. The slower speed with lower power will allow it to “caramelize” the wood, rather than vaporizing it. I would try a test of 10-15 power and then speeds of 1000, 900, 800 down to 300-400 and see what you get with color changes.


Not sure what “PF Maple” is, but this was engraved on cheap BB:


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: I can’t believe I didn’t realize I was typing PF; I fixed it. Trying to save time from typing proof grade and I had to go back and correct myself. That’s a great engrave, and it’s about what I achieved on the Baltic birch. Maybe a little lighter, but the maple seems to burn much darker with the proofgrade settings.