Wood species to avoid

A quick list of wood species that I find to be too difficult to cut to be worth the trouble:

  • Zebrawood (chars, inconsistent)

  • Bolivian Rosewood (too hard, takes too many passes and chars)

  • Ironwood (aka ipe) (similar to the rosewood, it takes many passes. It doesn’t char though, but gets a hard black polymerized edge.)

  • Black palm (I believe this is stabilized, and so my problems were probably due to the resin content. Either way it was very difficult and not recommended)

  • Sapele (this one is a mystery, because it feels like it should cut well, but it chars like crazy and is very difficult to get through.

Now you might get away with any of these in a veneer, but in 1/8" to 1/4" (~3-6mm) , it’s not worth my trouble.

So that’s what I just won’t bother with unless I have to. What you got?


I’ve got a cnc router. Send that stuff to me. :rofl:


Thanks for this helpful list. Have you ever tried ipe? I’ve got a few small scraps from when our deck was built (I think it’s 3/4”) but haven’t tried any of it in the laser. It’s incredibly hard even
for regular tools. I suspect it has sand incorporated into it.

Ipe is also called ironwood. It takes lots of passes but when you’re done you get a shiny black edge without char. It’s a lot to get through and so it’s on my avoid list.

Hah we actually talked about this a long time ago:

I should revisit this with modern testing methods. I was very new then.


Adding to this, because new members will need to know: Wood allergies and toxicity


What is sold as Mahogany is many different species and some are worse than zebrawood for flammability,

You know what’s funny is that I almost included that in my list because you’ve talked about it so much… but every time I’ve gotten mahogany it’s been really easy to cut, so I didn’t add it. Do you know which varieties char?

I got some from hardware store that is terrible, others different. Basic carpshoot.

I found three of the ten here but have not yet cut any…




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