Struggling to Pick a Material

My Glowforge arrived not that long ago and I am really struggling to figure out the right material to use for my purposes. I am looking for 1/4" material that will be used for outdoor decorations that hang on peoples doors (door rounds) and on porches (welcome signs). MDF is concerning to me for the outdoor factor. Cost is also a factor as in my area I am not able to charge too much for my completed items so looking for something that is affordable and consistent quality. I am in Canada so my access would be restricted to that as well. Are there items that can be purchased at regular hardware stores? Sorry for the basic level of these questions, I appreciate any assistance as I am fairly frustrated!


Welcome to the community and congrats on your new :glowforge:

Acrylic would be great, as it is waterproof and lightweight…

I’m also in Canada and have found Trotec a great acrylic supplier. For craft plywood I use KJP Select Hardwoods, they may have something suited for outdoors but their craft plywood has an mdf or hdf core.


If you make 4 cuts along the 8 foot length you get 5 pieces per sheet and 4 cuts the other way gets you 25 sheets per $30sheet of plywood and will hold up better than MDF and not be terrible with voids Bondo etc. common in m any other brands,


I also vote for acrylic, but there are some awesome poly waterproofing sprays you can use on wood as well!!!

whatever you use, can’t wait to see what you come up with!



There are lots of great suppliers in canada, depending on where you are (I am in Ontario and can give you some options if you are too).
also looking into outdoor sealants (varathane etc) will be useful. acrylic can get heavy and we definitely don’t have all the options they have in the US, but as mentioned, Trotec is good, there’s a few others I have found as well.


Welcome to the forum! I agree with @rbtdanforth about the plywood. Depending on your design, if you use an exterior paint to coat it, it’ll last outdoors. Of course, I’d think you’d want to paint it after cutting, but that should be fairly easy, as you can also buy exterior spray paint. Can’t wait to see what you make!


I bought some of this, but haven’t used any yet… but it’s worth a look.


Amazing! Thank you!

Thank you! I always seal for sure, the mdf still scares me but maybe it shouldn’t? I will definitely try this plywood! Thank you so much!!

I am in Ontario as well! Acrylic isn’t really an option for me as most of my stuff is stained, so need that wood look! I would love to know more about the suppliers here, and which material I should look at! Thank you!


Thank you so much! i will give this a shot. Have you used this before? Do you have a recommended cut setting?

Amazing! I have purchased from them for something else in the past. Could you recommend which type of wood you have purchased from them in the past? Thank you!! :slight_smile:

I have used it a lot, partly because it is 1/5 the price of the marine board (or most other plywood). While not as strong it lacks most of “surprises” that ruin work in other plywoods. If I went into detail about settings we would have to move the discussion to “Beyond the manual” but if you search in that directory there are notes in that.

It shouldn’t scare you. But as with anything you use on the Glowforge, be sure you stay in the area and keep an eye on it because fires can and have happened. About the only thing I don’t worry about catching fire is tile, stone, etc. Of course, on these materials, you’re just engraving, not cutting through. :slight_smile:

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Even those need attention :crazy_face: Any stone: like Lapis though it is a very valuable stone will make a mess of everything expelling sulfur, many copper-based minerals have chlorides, Fools Gold is heavy in sulfur, etc.
Agates and common stones heavy in quartz, etc are safe.

I’ve heard there are marine grade shellac’s that will hold up outdoors but I haven’t t tried any. I’m sure someone here has. Try searching the form for waterproofing.

Craft plywood and normal plywood, hdf and mdf all in 3mm and 6mm thicknesses. Their plywood is super high quality and has always cut perfectly for me. I got some thin plywood from Trotec, very uniform but very lightweight, doesn’t need much power to cut. Also got some bamboo plywood from Trotec - this has the normal challenges of bamboo that you will read about here.

@jaugstman I’m seconding this, any recommendations are welcome :slight_smile:

So true. I didn’t think about actual stones - I’ve only done ceramic tiles and stuff like that, not actual stones. I’d be too afraid of messing something like that up. Cheap tiles, granite, and marble I don’t worry about.

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Lapis is Marble, permeated by sulfur. Russian Royalty had halls and columns built with it.

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