Types of wood for different projects, and where to source

I’m curious what kind of woods people are using for various projects, and where you order from. I’ve seen some boxes and trinkets designed and laser cut on youtube, but they mostly use MDF. MDF is a great all-purpose product but not very attractive for most finished products. OTOH, it’s hard to find nicer woods cut down to less than 1/2 inch thickness but in a large enough sheet to do anything substantial with. Seems like it would get expensive quickly.

I just went down the road to a local sawmill that produces cedar and cypress for building materials, and the thinnest product they can produce is a 1/2 inch thick but only 5.5 inches wide. I’m looking into a source for bamboo plywood now but curious what other routes people are taking.

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Ya might have to look online for scroll saw wood supply.

And of coarse the classic Baltic Birch ply is always a winner.


You can find volume packs of Baltic birch plywood on Amazon & Rockler. I can’t speak to the laser-friendliness of the glue in it, but maybe someone else on here can.


Lee Valley Tools has a variety of suitable project woods:


The promise is materials up to a 1/4" thick. If they’ve posted details on which materials I apologize, but besides what they’ve said about acrylic I’m taking a wait and see approach.

I’ve seen wood cut thinner than 1/4" on Etsy, but it’s pricey. A little less pricey, and kudos for selection in both woods and sizes, is dndhardwoodsonline (never done business with them.) Lowes and Home Depot appear to be your cheapest source of 1/4" oak and poplar.

Google resawing for the process of using a bandsaw (plus planer or belt sander) to make 4/4 and up hardwood lumber into hobby boards. Apparently it’s part art and part quality jigs.

As wood (as opposed to plywood) cut down to a 1/4" thickness or less comes from larger boards your width will be limited to the sizes of those original boards so anything beyond 7 or 8 inches is not likely to be available. Mike13 mentioned Rockler - I saw that they also carry 1/4" cherry and walnut plywood.


This could be a good place to point out that when you get new lumber, you’ll want to acclimate it properly so that it doesn’t cup. You want air (and your room’s humidity) to hit it from both face-sides if possible, otherwise it will cup on you.

I’ve got a CNC and for thin boards, I use these to hold new boards when I get them. Personally I let them sit for a couple of weeks.

The only plywood I’ve cut on my CNC had already been sitting in my garage for a while so I didn’t have to acclimate it, but I believe that you can get away with letting plywood sit for a shorter time.


If you are unfamiliar with places to buy lumber in your area a good place to check is a local woodworking group. A lot of areas have them and sometimes they will have preferred suppliers listed on their web sites. Sometimes with the preferred supplier you can get a discount for being a part of that woodworking club. I get a 10% discount as several places for being a member of my club. A new membership only costs $30 and $25 to renew every year. The membership can pay for itself or save you money if you use enough material.


If you are new to woodworking, you should definitely search out a local woodworking group. Not only will they be a great source of information, they may well have regular wood sales where you can get cool stuff. Another thing to consider is that buying wood finished to a specific dimension can be very expensive. You are often much better off buying rough wood, and paying a friendly woodworker surface it to final dimensions on a planer. It can save you LOTS of money!


@jkopel makes a good point about the members from local woodworking groups being a resource. Our group will send an email to all members if someone is looking for a particular item, tool, materials, help on a project, or even for private lessons. In my case, our group has around 400 members. It’s great to ask a question and have it go out to that many people with that much knowledge about a particular field.

Woodcraft often has bundles of Baltic Birch at extremely good prices. I do a lot of scroll saw work, so I typically buy it in bulk.

As for GlowForge only cutting in 1/4" depths, you can build quite a lot in segments of that thickness.

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The FAQ states that you can flip and cut through from the other side using the cameras to do precision registration, so that gives you a max cut of 1/2".

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Presumably material dependent.

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I’ve spent some time looking for a local woodworking or woodcrafting group and haven’t had any luck. Is there any tips on where to look? Google isnt my friend.

So far I’ve just been to retail locations like hobby lobby and menards, but I know I’m paying out the nose. I’ve been able to find much more economical places for acrylic sheet and sheet glass, however.

And when it comes to cardboard, working at a cable company has some benefits of being able to recycle (read: harvest) cardboard from promotional standees and shipping cartons.

If you’re in the US try http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-to/article/woodworking-clubs-directory.aspx for woodworking clubs. Not all the links seem to work but it’s a start. Also look in advertisements in Fine Woodworking magazines. Their are often wood suppliers listed.

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I have no idea where you are located, but here is a list of woodworking related schools. I am sure that they would be a decent starting point for meeting people and getting more knowledgeable about what is available near you…


Here is a list of meetups:


There is MUCH more where that came from, I basically just did a google search for “how to find a local woodworking club”. :smile:

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You can also try looking for lumber mills, either with the yellow pages or with online mapping from apple/google/yahoo/bing/mapquest. It’s going to be more work on your end to get stuff from a mill, you may have to cut it down to size yourself, but you are likely to find great prices for interesting bits of wood that are unsuitable for lumber but great for creative Making.

Thanks @Maiman , @jkopel , and @jbv . That helped. I’m in southern Minnesota, about an hour from Minneapolis, and there is a guild based in the twin cities that has links to wood distributers, like you said. Most of what i’ll be using the GF for is going to be acrylic and glass, so this saved me a lot of time figuring wood out on my own.

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Not sure where you are located but search Craigslist > For Sale > Materials . You’d be surprised what you come up with. Often people with bandsaw sawmills advertise there. Many of them have portable operations and can do individual trees that need to come down, if it’s big enough for the effort. Most are still rough, but some offer planed wood. You might be able to get a deal.


@Sawa - I grew up Just north of Rochester (which is also about an hour south of the cities.) Now, I’m one of those markers you see on the map near the twin cities. I was just searching for some of the same acrylic and/or wood. Haven’t found cheap acrylic yet, but plan to go check out a place in Maplewood called “Forest Products Supply”. That has a section reserved for “Shorts and cutoffs” leftover from the cut ends of many different species of wood that I think sounds a promising size for the glowforge that they sell at discount from the regular lumber retail.


@Joshua I’m between Owatonna and Mankato. Let me know how that wood goes, if you please! As for acrylic, i had priced a place in the cities, Edina, I think it was, that was around 128$ for a 4x8 foot quarter inch thick and around 96$ for the same in three eighths. Clear sheet acrylic. I have the phone number and exact prices written down in a notebook i have at home on my desk. He could saw cut that down to 12x16 inch for very little or he would be able to nearly lossless cut for about 40more. Using like a plasma cutter or something. I didn’t go into shipping because its about 40-45 lbs for a single sheet, which equates to about 45-50 in ups/fedex charge, but i go up to the cities enough that I’ll pick up a couple of whole sheets cut up at a time in my car.