Tape and wood options

I am sure this is a common question, but I run a makerspace and I need to buy tape and wood in bulk. As much as I’d love to buy the name brand wood, I really need to find a way to bring the cost down so more teachers can use it over the year. I have about a thousand dollars to spend on wood.

Any website suggestions on 3rd party wood and paper choices? We’ve been using a lot of 1/4" home depot hobby wood, but I really dont want to use masking tape as it’s not paper based and I’m trying really hard to find things that are safe to burn. The wood also isn’t ideal because it bowes from the humidity in our area… It’s just lower quality wood.

I use a lot of Baltic birch from woodcraft. It’s like $38 for a 5x5’ sheet. Wood is going to warp if not stored properly, or kept in an unstable environment. So get those processes down if you can.

Most people are using transfer tape, like Transferrite. It comes in large rolls, like 12”x100-150’.

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I use the same plywood as you and experience some of the same warping problems. One thing that I’ve found that works to alleviate some of the warping - is to moisten the wood and then place a piece (or pieces) on a scrap piece on the floor, then cover with another scrap piece before putting one or two cement blocks on top. Leave it that way for a few hours and VIOLA!!

At least my ‘King of the Cheap Projects’ solution. :glowforge::sunglasses:

Thanks! I actually am avoiding plywood from lowes and home depot because they cant prove it’s low formaldehyde… I’m trying to find a supplier who has <1% formaldehyde in their ply… :confused: That said, I appreciate the suggestion. I’ll give that a try… It’s arriving from the store warped… We live in a very humid area.

There are several good sources for Baltic Birch but with the size of order you would be making I’d do the woodcraft thing as buying it in 5x5’ would be the cheapest and I bet with a large order they’d cut it to size for you.

For hardwoods, I’d look for scroll saw sources as that is about the thickness you will use.

For general prototyping and stuff that will be panted, I don’t know of any deal better than the :proofgrade: draftboard.

Lowes 1/4" oak plywood sells for $10 for a 4x8 sheet. you can get 16 full sized (for the Glowforge) sheets, and another 8 smaller sheets. That brings it to about fifty cents a full sheet, or equal in two smaller sheets. there is less unusable areas than Home Depot plycarp, and even when there is filler it is not laser-proof filler. It is also strong and tough, and both outer faces are oak so they can look good as well.

From what I have seen Draftboard from anyone is weak and not cheaper than the Oak plywood, Other ply except for good Baltic Birch (that I can not trust if cheap) in the 1/4 inch range does not match in strength, and is often brittle.

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Woodworkersource for Baltic birch and transfer paper tape like the kind used for vinyl transfers.

There has been several posts about this…Do a search and you’ll find a lot if info…

Yes dry wood wants to stay that way but wet it can do anything flat to round as long as you can hold it in place till it drys.

10 pound (4.5 kg) weights work well also. One on either end of the stack.
I do this with all my wood to prevent warping.

Need to put the weights in some plastic bags or some other wrap though. They leave marks on the boards as you move them around without a cover.

This is formaldehyde free as it uses a soy based adhesive. It’s not the cheapest but a 4’X8’ sheet for about $30 is still a pretty good price. 16 full sheets and 8 (12”X8”) pieces.


That was what I bought that I hated so much. The adhesive is not so much the problem as the Laser-proof “Bondo” they use to fill the many voids that every cut was a carp-shoot if it would cut at all. Other plywoods also have filler, but none I have encountered, so massive in size and number, or quite so laser-proof. When I am talking about Plycarp that is what I am referring to.

The outside can look perfect but it seemed an even chance that the cut would ever make it through.

Interesting I’ve been through several 4’X8’ sheets and haven’t had an issue. There are some patches on the backside but I either avoid them or they end up on the inside/back of the projects. all in all I’ve really like working with it.

it was the first thing I bought when setting up the Glowforge primarily to experiment with, and it totally soured me on trying that again. Even the Lowes birch plywood I have avoided.

The Proofgrade Plywood avoids the issue by using MDF in the middle but it will dissolve in the face of my cleaning stuff.

i have found a handful of local wood suppliers (not the big box stores). you can get large sheets of baltic birch there and have them cut down. or, if you have the tools to do it, cut it down yourself. should keep the cost down. so look to see who is available locally.

I have found that many folks sell Revell Birch plywood that as “hobby plywood” is expected to be cut up to small pieces and so is very clean. Better yet it comes in several thicknesses from too thick to cut to 1/32"

Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky thus far! I do pick through the piles very carefully when selecting my sheets though.

Maybe I should try again as my luck should balance out maybe?
This is a good if extreme example. I burned up the center but still could not get through:

I think if a house that was built with it burned down you could still go through and find the Bondo.

Wow, yeah I have not had any of that. I would not buy it if I was dealing with that. I can see how it soured you to it.

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Even when it almost worked, just a dab of it ruined the piece for any but home use. That white area is where the bondo just took out a chunk:

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I live in the NoVa area – do you have specific local wood suppliers you can recommend to me? I’m only aware of Woodcraft, Home Depot, and Lowes. Thx!