Plywood not cut all the way through

I am using plywood from Lowes. It engraves fine but will not cut all the way through. What could I be doing wrong.

You bought plain old plywood from Lowe’s, which is unfortunately not great to laser.

If you search the forum for “Lowe’s plywood” or “Home Depot plywood” you’ll find the same story over and over, it’s just terrible to cut.

@rbtdanforth will be by any minute now to show his picture that demonstrates just how bad it is.


I have some ply I got from Home Depot (it was even already cut to size for the :glowforge: - 12"x19"), but there are parts of it that just will not cut, no matter how hard I try.


I have purchased decent plywood from Lowes, but it is best to experiment. I bought some Birch from Home Depot that over a third of it was useless, as it was filled with Laser-proof Bondo like stuff that @evansd2 refers to, thus…

However, Lowes sells a 6mm Oak plywood that makes a lot of mess but is quite strong, and what filll there is is not as horrid. There is also what is called Revolution Plywood that has less and lighter fill plus is cheapest, but is not as nice or strong. There is also oak and poplar solid stock that is not terribly priced.


This is why you should stick to 1/8” Baltic birch, in my opinion. Not worth wrestling with thicker stuff.


1/8 stuff is not so good for engraving :grin: Works fine for tiny boxes but looks cheap on bigger ones. I use 3/8 and even half inch for deep relief engravings on the lid if not elsewhere,

Another situation the thin does not work as well.


This stuff is thin. I had the same problem with some leather it would not cut all the way through. What am I doing wrong

For every material you need to use and keep the result of this…
It is a bit of work to setup but after every cut is the speed noted and the engrave twice that speed and watch it like a hawk as it will likely burn at the last ones and you need to be ready to use a wet cloth to put it out, but label the sample and keep it for reference. That will tell you the proper cutting speed for everything just looking at what cut through,

The outer line may need multiple passes at 125 speed full power on separate tries. The numbers scored lightly at 500 speed 25%power.

Ya I use something similar to the above. I have a cut, engrave and score test file I use when I get a new board. Even the exact same board from HD or Lowes can need different settings.

Basically make a file with 6 different cuts and change the speed from 100 up to about 250
Usually I use 150 speed on those but it can vary from 130 to 170.


Any time you are using material other than Proofgrade, you need to test before committing to a large job. Applies to multiple sheets from same purchase, for example.

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I wish Lowes or Home Depot would start carrying supplies for Makers, there are so many of us now. It’s just too expensive to buy Glowforge materials, if you are running a business. I looked for 2 years to find a local supplier for the 1/8" birch ply and finally found one. I was so happy, I felt like a kid on Christmas. Now it’s my new favorite place to go shopping. It’s an 1.5 to 2 hour dive, but absolutely worth it.

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