View Full Version : Best 6mm or 1/4" Plywood...any suggestions and where to buy it???

Cherie Irwin
03-08-2012, 7:58 PM
Hello all! I had a rant in the past about the 6mm Baltic Birch and the voids in it. The stuff just won't cut in the areas where there are voids. Please don't comment on the 3mm Baltic Birch. I've had no problems with the 3mm stuff, just the thicker 6mm.

I ordered from two local hardwood suppliers. I ordered online from Woodcraft and another online supplier. I've tried ApplePly, and they all have the same problems - VOIDS and several of them. I've thought about looking into Columbia's EuroPly Plus, but I fear it is going to have the same problem that the ApplePly did.

Has anyone recently sourced 6mm or 1/4" plywood (any species)and had a good experience with laser cutting it? If so, would you be willing to share the details on what it was and where you bought it? I'm ready to pull my hair out and take down my whole website because I don't want to keep cutting MDF core plywood. It is nasty, nasty stuff.

Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated.

Mike Null
03-09-2012, 8:28 AM

Give St. Charles Hardwoods a call. http://www.stcharleshardwoods.com/

Cherie Irwin
03-09-2012, 11:07 AM
Mike, that's where I've been getting all of my material up to this point. They only carry a lower grade Baltic Birch and the MDF core plywood. No other options there.

Mike Null
03-09-2012, 2:40 PM
Have you tried Rockler on Page or the Woodnshop which I think has moved to Troy.

Duncan Crawford
03-13-2012, 1:46 PM

Lowes lists 5mm maple/birch ply, although not all states/locations carry it. It cuts well on my 40 w Mini-18 at 10/100/500 and so far has not had very many voids or similar issues. That said, the maple side seems to be made up of nominal 6 inch to 8 inch wides strips, with the birch side seemingly one piece. If you pre-sand the maple side with 220 grit or finer, the seams are generally not noticeable after engraving/cutting/finishing. The birch tends to come in two colors-- lighter and darker-- so if what you make has finished/exposed birch, just make sure to cut pieces from the same large sheet. It's sold in standard 4x8 ft sheets-- I use a panel saw to cut 12x18 inch blanks.

I've also done photos on the maple side, processing either with the "Gold method" or 1-Touch from Universal Laser (with most of the other preliminary work done in CS5); engraving settings are usually somewhere around 35/65 at 600 dpi. You can't go much higher than that for power or you'll burn thru the maple layer.

Good luck--


Kay Bengtson
03-13-2012, 2:34 PM
Contact Bud Nosen Models. I get all my wood from them and like the cost, service and quality. I haven't cut the thicker baltic birch ply they sell but the 1/16th material has been very good lately.


John Heavill
03-13-2012, 5:45 PM
Hi Cherie,
I purchase Baltic Birch plywood in all thicknesses from a place called DSI (Distributor Service, Inc.) http://www.distributor-service.com
They are located in 6 states right now and maybe the closest to you would be in Nashville, Tenn.
You can view their product listings through an online catalog but to get prices and availability you have to call in to an 800 number.
The Baltic Birch sheets are 5 foot square (60 inches x 60 inches). Not too sure if they would charge to cut them smaller for shipping.
As for voids (plugged with same type of wood), it's been my experience that maybe 1 or 2 plugs show up in 10 or 12 sheets.
I mark and work around them for both laser and cabinet production.
Hope this helps.

John H.

In God We Trust

. . . One nation, under God . . .

Edi Royer
03-16-2012, 6:32 AM
I found some 1/4" underlayment that works great. I had the same problem with plywood and tried the underlayment. It has two thinner layers on the top and bottom and a thicker middle section as opposed to plywood that seems to be about 3 equal pieces.
Might give it a try.

Mike vonBuelow
03-16-2012, 6:26 PM
Michael Kowalczyk, SMC member,sells the stuff

Craig Matheny
03-17-2012, 6:40 PM
Cheri was is the grade they are selling you? BB/BB BBB/BB CP/BB this is what says is in the middle of the ply. Also is it 4 x 8 sheets 5 x 5 sheets? Is it made in the states or imported in from Russia or Finland?

Cherie Irwin
03-19-2012, 2:48 PM
Mike, I've been in touch with Mike K in the past. He could guarantee that that 3mm BB didn't have voids, but couldn't make the same guarantee for the 6mm that he had in stock. That may have changed since I last spoke with him.

Craig, I did receive the B/BB from the WoodNShop in Troy, MO (one of the places that Mike Null recommended), but it was just as bad as the material that I got from the first source...I encountered at least 4-5 voids in every 12' x 18" board, and these were just in the areas where I cut. There may have been more. I just got some new stuff from Sloan's WoodShop (in Lebanon, TN) that I found online. I've yet to test in the laser, but it looks better than the stuff that I got from the other three sources I've tried so far. After I check this stuff out, I'll look into some of the other sources that you've recommended.

Craig Matheny
03-19-2012, 10:44 PM
Cherie the problem you can get when buying cut sheets is the supplier that sells it to the distributor sometimes will look at the wood and call it what it is not. On a 5 x 5 piece you see all the wood I can cut perfect pieces out of a BB/BB sheet and sell it as B/BB and no one would know this happens all the time. I have had lumber yards try to pass off BB/BB as B/BB because I use a laser it matters but if you are just cutting wood it is not an issue so they sell it to make more money. All I know is when you find a supplier that constantly gives you good wood stay with them.

I buy the wood by the lift and had one lift come from Russia that was bad center core the yard told me to keep the wood and gave me a full lift free so it does happen by mistake also.

Good luck