Problems cutting plywood

Hi. I only have my laser for about a month. I made lots of projects with Birch Plywood 1/4 and I always have this problem with the laser, doesn’t cut all the areas and the material gets broken or damaged. What are your settings when you cut plywood to have a smooth cut? I have made lots of wasting of material and money :see_no_evil:

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Welcome to the forum.
I suspect the problems you are having are related to the plywood you are using. Many commercially available plywoods have voids, knots and glue pockets that are very challenging to cut. Many users inspect their wood by shining a very bright flashlight through the material looking for dark areas that will be hard to cut. Marking those areas and avoiding them in advance can eliminate some of the problems you are having.

In general 1/4" plywood can be cut using a similar Proofgrade thick plywood setting. It is important that all of the optics are clean, all of the fans are clean and that the material is being held perfectly flat against the honeycomb tray. Even the slightest warpage of the wood will result in inconsistent cuts.


Posting in the Problems and Support section opens a support ticket, in case you didn’t read the pinned post up top. Glowforge staff can’t help you with problems with non-proofgrade materials.


This is the problem. It’s always tough to get through non-laser specific 1/4” plywoods. @dklgood’s advice is very sound.
I’d add that there’s a significant difference in quality/consistency between birch plywood and true BALTIC birch plywood. Some users have also reported good result with the Purebond brand at Home Depot.


No I didn’t read it, I don’t have time to. Thanks for your nice answer

Thank you for your help

Thanks so much for your help.

I was short on time this morning, so my post may have sounded a little curt. It wasn’t meant to. I’m sorry if it read that way.

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Since this discusses non-Proofgrade materials I have moved it to Beyond the Manual so the discussion can continue.

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Two things are common, one that has been mentioned is the wood. I asked for Baltic Birch at Home Depot and got some of the worst wood I have yet seen. It was absolutely not made to the standard held by any built to the Baltic Birch standards.

The other problem is a bit more subtle. If while you are cutting you see the smoke briefly become a candle-like flame that particular bit of cutting will not be as deep as the rest. This is often the nature of decent wood if you are going slow enough for the circumstances for that piece of wood, or if the head fan is in trouble, or there is something messing with the airflow.

I have even seen where cutting near the edge causes turbulence that can allow those flames, I often place a piece of scrap of the same thickness on the upwind side to prevent that turbulence. Bed pins upwind will also do this.

They don’t carry Baltic Birch. They do carry regular Birch ply which suffers from all the same issues any other standard plywood has (voids, fillers, glues).

The staff at HD wouldn’t almost certainly not know the difference and just like a dog that only hears his name when you talk to him, they’re likely to hear “blah blah blah Birch plywood blah blah blah” and take you straight to the sheet goods aisle.

Better to look for it at specialty wood suppliers.


Actually worse than others. Even where someone cleaned their brush on an inside ply was totally Laser proof in that area. :unamused:

I object: Dogs learn new things. Dogs come when called. Dogs are nice and try to be helpful. Dogs will stay with you when you need them.

Don’t be so mean to dogs, man, cold.


An awful lot depends on just who’s dog you are talking about. I met one that hated people on bicycles apparently because something someone on a bicycle did. The owner chastised him for making his hatred plain and had him sit. So he sat till he saw folks attention was elsewhere and then leaped up and tried to bite my face off! Only later did I learn it was about the bicycle.

So no. I judge each individual by themselves and don’t judge as he did of anyone on a bicycle. However having dog like alignment with their owner/employer is not an uncommon observation.

An old job, a commercial farm, the new Doberman decided that golf carts were too dangerous to be operated by anyone and would bite the leg of the driver while chasing. No reason, just did. Was there when the dog came as a puppy. The work around was eventually, call the dog to come sit shotgun and hold her collar while you drive.

Years later she’s now my dog. Sometimes dogs just have dumdum ideas.


Yeah, but dogs will also pee on your leg when you’re not looking, and I hate when HD employees do that…


I have had experiences that were not exactly that but the emotional result was very similar.


Mine has some bizarre fear/hatred of people+mechanical-things.


I really want to know what’s happening in his little shelter mutt brain.


My dog knows three words - his name, “treats” and “dinner”. Everything else I might as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher talking :stuck_out_tongue: