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Laser Cutting & Engraving Plywood

plywood laser engraver

Wenting Wang |

Plywood is a three-layer or multi-layer board material made of wood segments cut into veneer or thin wood by laser engraver  and then glued with adhesive. Usually, odd layers of veneer are used, and the fiber direction of adjacent layers of veneer is glued to each other vertically. Plywood can usually be divided into hardwood plywood and cork plywood. Hardwood plywood is usually made from birch, poplar or maple, so it can be used as a substitute for some solid wood. This plywood is often found in modern furniture decoration.

The core of plywood is layers of more abundant and cheaper wood varieties that are heated and pressed together. Plywood is available in different thicknesses, grades and sizes, with most panels available in 4'x 8' and occasionally 4'x 10' sizes. Plywood is commonly used to make a variety of products and items, such as furniture, jewelry, decorative items, etc. Plywood is a widely used material and if you can cut/carve it, you can add a variety of products to your inventory.

Plywood is a very common material in the current wood market, so it is necessary to understand its corresponding advantages and disadvantages when choosing plywood. Above all, the weight of plywood is light, the flexural performance is good, convenient transportation and construction, the texture is beautiful, made up for the defect that some wood naturally generates, have very good adornment sex. Because plywood is held together by thin skins, these sheets also form right-angled structures, which are known to be stronger and less prone to cracking and bending. The strength of plywood also determines the quality of plywood, plywood is usually lower than the price of solid wood, followed by plywood is usually not particularly moisture-proof, because plywood is the use of multi-layer thin plate adhesion, so if plywood layer is not bonded, it is easy to become wet.


What kind of plywood is suitable for engraving?

plywood for laser cutting

How to choose the right plywood for carving? Before you need to check the type of plywood and the shade of plywood. The color of the plywood depends on your requirements and preferences. The type of plywood will give you a better idea of resin content, texture, available shadows and finishes. You also need to look at the wood grain. It may not be attractive to the product you are making, or it may add to the beauty of the product. You can search for resin content. If the resin content is high, the carving effect will be darker. But if the resin content is low, the carving will be light. Not all plywood is suitable for laser engraving, some manufacturers will introduce some suitable for laser engraving special plywood, you can buy in the special channel to buy your own plywood.

Here are some common types of plywood:

Birch plywood

It is one of the most commonly used plywood in home engineering. It is durable plywood, light weight, and has a good finish. Laser cutting of birch produces a clean cut with light brown edges. Beginners can use this plywood to begin a journey of laser engraving and cutting. It is one of the most commonly used laser cutting and engraving plywood.

Bamboo plywood

This plywood is known for its excellent cutting results. It is available in a variety of colors. The edges show an attractive light brown color. It has natural lining or wood grain and an attractive light brown edge. It has a distinct natural lining or wood grain. If you don't want dense texture, then this is not the plywood for you. Bamboo plywood could be an option. It is a dense wood grain that has a delicate appearance when carved.

Maple plywood

Soft Maple is very similar to hard Maple. Usually, sapwood is off-white, maple plywood is usually tightly textured, fine and even texture, color is close to white, sometimes with a reddish tone, easy to burn. Wood is usually straight grained. Wood is usually sold without a choice of color.

Poplar plywood

Poplar plywood is a relatively soft hardwood, is tough and durable. Poplar plywood is often so light in color that the grain pattern is barely visible. Poplar plywood highlights the characteristics of the wood used, namely light weight, light color, highly uniform texture imperceptible, easy to process, glue and finish, poplar has a strong resistance to fracture, deformation ability.

It is best used on lightweight furniture that does not need to bear much weight. The plywood is also ideal for small construction projects, models, jewelry boxes and other similar small items. It's also ideal for anything that needs carving.


What kind of  laser machine is suitable for cutting plywood?

First of all, not all laser machines are suitable for laser cutting plywood. You can only use diode lasers or CO2 lasers to cut and carve wood and plywood. Although fiber lasers are capable of cutting plywood or wood, fiber lasers cannot cut plywood and wood because of their different operating principles, because it can easily catch fire. Second, third, laser engraving machines of different power can carve different depths on the plywood, for example, Monport 40W Lightburn can carve 10-15mm lime wood, if the laser engraving machine can not cut the plywood once, you need to cut it once or twice, but this will also reduce a certain cutting efficiency. So for the engraver who has the need to cut the plywood, they have purchased the engraver with enough power, which is very important for cutting the plywood.


Cutting Thickness of Plywood

3 mm

5 mm




23 mA

23 mA



12 mm/s

3 mm/s




23 rnA

23 mA



15 mm/s

7 mm/s




23 mA

23 mA

23 mA


20 mm/s

12 mm/s

2 mm/s

Issues to be aware of when engraving plywood

The hardness of plywood, smoke generation, and overburning edges are all challenges that can be faced by novice carvers. These are all issues that need to be paid attention to when carving plywood.

The hardness of plywood is relatively easy to solve, we need to understand that plywood is not harder than solid wood. Solid wood is usually harder than plywood of the same material, which means that if your laser engraver can cut a specific type of solid wood, it can cut a similar type of plywood. Another point that is easy to be ignored is that plywood may have difficulties in cutting glue. Although plywood may be more uniform than cutting wood, which is an unstable and uneven natural material, the glue material inside of plywood may cause obstacles to laser cutting. Because the ordinary plywood supplier will not provide you with the specific material of the glue inside the plywood very carefully. More layers mean more glue, and the glue part of plywood is often harder to cut than the wood itself. Plywood can be made with several different types of glue. This requires you to be able to determine the specific material of your plywood or do some testing before carving.

The problem of heavy smoke in the cutting process of plywood must have troubled many carvers, because the adhesive used in plywood can produce unpleasant gases during the carving process similar to those produced in the plastic carving process, which requires air assistance and exhaust systems. Air assistance can largely regulate the temperature of the cutting area, remove the smoke and heat generated when cutting the plywood, and also reduce the probability of edge burns to a certain extent. Air AIDS can also blow away bits of wood and adhesive particles. Another effective bench that can easily remove smoke is a honeycomb bench. It consists of a honeycomb structure that facilitates the easy removal of smoke through gaps in the workbench surface.

Edge burns are one of the most common challenges for laser-cut plywood. In addition to the use of air assistance, it is also necessary to increase the cutting power and cutting speed of the engraving machine as much as possible to reduce the laser residence time on the material and minimize the burn on the cutting edge. This is due to edge burning usually due to high laser power or low cutting speed.