View Full Version : Cutting 1/2" thick plywood

Aysha Hollins
07-07-2014, 8:58 PM
Hey, all I just got a customer request for items in 1/2" baltic birch plywood. Does anyone have any recommended settings for cutting something this thick? Or know if it's even possible?

I have a 75 watt epilog laser.

Mitchell Tutty
07-07-2014, 9:13 PM

I'm running a 60watt Epilog. I've cut 10mm ply before, which is close to 1/2''.
It's not going to be pretty, lots of charring and a fairly substantial kerf.
I recommend trying about 3% speed, 100%power and at least two passes.
Another tip I would recommend would be to manually focus about 2mm beneath the surface of the ply, to somewhat reduce the kerf.

Hope that helps you out.

Henri Sallinen
07-08-2014, 2:24 AM
I would encourage the customer to grab interior grade (white)glued plywood since the regular plywoods with exterior (black) glue is a pain in the butt to laser. Also the charring is a major problem with the exterior quality, since you have to do a lot of cleaning to get it all off.

John Bion
07-08-2014, 4:06 AM
I cut quite a bit of plywood. Stick to MR glued wood, use a bigger lens and plenty of air into the kerf. Poplar based plywoods cut very much more easily than BB but do not have the same surface grain/finish as BB. I have no idea of the capabilities of your epilog and cannot compare to my chinese machines. The thickest I would cut on my 60w would be 6mm if I was very desperate (due to speed), I can cut 12mm on my 100w but to be honest, the finish is simply not great and speed slow so I generaly stick to 9mm tops.
try a few sources of wood, quality can be very variable and be prepared for a number of items not to cut through correctly due to patches of resin etc in the wood.
kind regards, John

Clark Pace
07-08-2014, 7:09 AM

My suggestion if you hand with power tools is too make a template out of 1/4 material and use it as a template for a router.

Mike Null
07-08-2014, 7:43 AM
I agree with Clark. The laser is not the tool for the job.

John Bion
07-08-2014, 12:02 PM
I would agree with Clark and Mike that at 12mm thick (especially with smaller lasers like ours) the router is the better machine for the task.
If engraving is necessary then they can be done on the laser with a jig, I attach a picture of the finished result of this that I have recently done for a customer for the Tour de France (on 15mm MR MDF):

Here is an image of something for the same customer cut from BB on the laser - two 6mm back-to-back cuts glued together to make 12mm thick items - engraved and subsequently hand painted. (We produced thousands of each of these examples), but do note the dark edges (although minimal carbon rub-off):

Kind Regards, John

PS: I can’t get the images to stay put where I place them - please use your noggin to place them accordingly:)