Plywood is a versatile material for making a wide range of furniture and accessories. If you have a laser cutter, you can create stunning pieces on plywood.
The process can also be complex if you have yet to experience working with it.
The smoke generated during laser cut plywood is directly related to the composition of plywood. Which type of plywood would be better to choose? How do you choose a cutting machine?
This article will answer all these questions, including cutting techniques for laser cut plywood and business projects.
Can you use laser cutting plywood?
Yes, the main material component of plywood is wood, which is then glued together to form plywood, so the laser cutter can easily cut plywood.
What is plywood?
Plywood is a more durable and stronger type of wood. Ordinary wood can bend over time and even cracks on the surface.
Conversely, plywood is made from wood chips, resin, and glue. The machine compresses the mixture to the required thickness using strong pressure. When the mixture has solidified, the hard plywood is formed.
The properties of plywood are directly related to the type of wood, the resin content, and the glue.
How does laser cutting plywood work?
As you can see in the video, the laser is applied to plywood by a computer-controlled laser head. In addition, you can also use the CO2 laser cutter to engrave patterns on the plywood, which are very fine in all their details.
How to laser cut plywood?
First of all, we choose the right type of laser. I have often discussed laser types in previous articles if you follow me. If you choose a fiber laser, its high power may cause the material to catch fire. And the laser wavelength of the fiber is not suitable for cutting plywood, which may often result in unsatisfactory cutting results.
Thickness of plywood cut by laser cutting machine
3mm plywood for laser cutting is very easy. Of course, the cutting effect of laser cut plywood is related to the cutting machine's power, accuracy and speed. I will explain these variables in more detail in the following sections.
Regarding laser types, the CO2 laser machine is the best choice for laser cut plywood. Of course, diode laser cutting machines are also available for cutting 3mm plywood for laser cutting. In general, however, the diode cutter has a lower power and can choose the maximum power and lower speed for cutting 3mm plywood.
The laser power affects the thickness of laser cut plywood. Generally, the higher the laser power, the greater the thickness of the cut. Although the thickness of the cut is also related to the material itself, softwood's thickness is more significant than hardwood's for the same power. It would help if you were clear that laser power = output power, not machine power.
The 45w/50w CO2 laser cutter can cut end linden plywood up to 15mm thick. If you want to cut thicker panels, you may need to cut twice to achieve this.
For example, the gweike G1 blue laser cutter can cut up to 10mm basswood.
Laser cut plywood project
If you have a laser cutter, you can turn an ordinary piece of plywood into various artwork. In the following pages, you will find several projects for laser cutting plywood. We hope that these projects will inspire you to design amazing pieces. As a beginner, you can learn these projects and make them into gifts, which is also an excellent laser engraving idea.
Birch Plywood Coat Hook
Are you surprised that laser cut plywood is made into hangers? Use nails or strong glue to attach the hangers to the wall. Of course, you can also cut thin plywood and attach it to the kitchen wall to hang kitchen utensils, towels, etc. You can hang light clothes such as shirts and hats. However, it is not recommended to hang heavy clothes.
3D plywood Animal
Suppose you want an ornament to add interest to your home. Why not make a 3D plywood Animal yourself? At first glance, it may be too complicated, but it is a simple cutting project through laser cut plywood. All you need to do is cut the plywood into the animals you want and then glue them together to make a 3D plywood animal.
Of course, if you are very good with design software, you can also design a 3D frame model of the animal directly on your computer. Then use a CO2 laser cutter to cut the animal, after which you can paint the bare animal. This way, you can also get a colorful 3D animal ornament.
Plywood Pendant Light
What an excellent idea to create an artistic lampshade for a light bulb in your home. The Plywood Pendant Light looks very complicated, but then you just laser cut plywood and put them together, and you're done. You can also create other shapes to make your design even more unique. And it doesn't have to be a chandelier. For example, you can also make bedside lamps or ambient lighting for the dining room, which are perfect. You can even use laser cutting plywood to create an octahedral frame and place colored acrylic in the gaps. This will give off a colorful glow when the bulb is lit.
Wooden wall clock
Every home needs a clock to keep track of time, and most clocks are the same. Plywood for laser cutting can create individual clocks to add interest to your room. You can also personalise your clocks with various designs, such as paint and unique cuts.
Whether you prefer round, square, or various other shapes of clock dials, you can l use laser cut plywood to achieve this. However, if you need the hands of the clock to turn, you may have to buy some accessories.
Plywood Bottle Tank
If you are a beer lover, you can make a wine rack. This will save space in the house, and the bottles will look much neater. Of course, you can also make wine racks, glass racks, and various shelves. These shelves can be completely finished with laser cut plywood. Your home will be much tidier with the use of these shelves.
Types of the best plywood for laser cutting
Plywood is made from a mixture of glue, wood chips, resin, and almost all plywood can be laser cut. But the type of glue and wood chips determines whether you can cut it ideally. Some poor quality plywood can produce a lot of pungent fumes during the cutting process, so it is important to know the type of plywood suitable for laser cutting before cutting.
If you are having difficulty determining whether your plywood is suitable for laser cutting, you can go for a special laser plywood. It has a sharp engraving contrast and is less likely to produce a lot of smoke and harmful fumes during the cutting process. The amount of resin in the plywood determines the color of the engraving. More resin will result in a darker engraving color.
The next step is to classify plywood by material to make laser cut plywood easier to understand.
Laser cut plywood is mainly related to the softness or hardness of the wood. When the types of laser cut plywood are softwoods such as spruce, ring pine, and fir, they are suitable for flooring, roofing, and other furniture. Ring pine is water resistant, and its special color and grain are ideal for furniture making.
I advise anyone trying laser cut plywood for the first time to cut birch plywood first. It is lightweight and does not break easily during cutting.
Laser cut linden produces little smoke and cuts clean edges with ease.
It is no exaggeration to say that linden is one of the most suitable types of laser cut plywood.
And with its low price, birch plywood is an excellent choice for laser DIY enthusiasts on a budget.
The most distinctive feature of bamboo plywood is its bamboo grain. Its beautiful bamboo brown color gives you a sense of natural beauty. However, bamboo plywood is prone to cracking, and beginners must be careful when trying to laser cut plywood for the first time.
This beautiful and distinctive brown color is ideal for your laser cut plywood project.
At the same time, the grain of bamboo can add contrast to your design and make your product more appealing to the eye. However, bamboo plywood is not waterproof, and prolonged water immersion can cause the bamboo panels to warp.
European beech plywood
European beech plywood's distinctive golden brown color is ideal for many artworks.
We are hard pressed to find the same color as beech plywood, and it produces excellent results in cutting.
Choosing European beech plywood for projects such as invitations and greeting cards will make your product stand out.
The Jarrah is a post-processed product, and its striking deep red color makes it stand out from the rest of the plywood.
Its unique color is ideal for many furniture factories.
Its deep red color can add flair to your laser cut plywood project and give the whole product a richer color.
The best laser cutting machine for plywood
The Gweike G1 is a diode laser engraver. With an engraving speed of 400mm/s, it can engrave very quickly. For many patterns, it takes only a few seconds to complete.
The Gweike G1 supports thicker sheet thicknesses than other laser cutting machines of the same power on the market. It can cut 3 mm basswood plywood in a single pass. It also has a small spot size and high engraving accuracy.
Also, laser cut plywood has a maximum size of 400*400mm, which can use for most laser projects. The machine is also equipped with air assistance for free, so you don't have to worry about burning or catching fire during the cutting process.
The machine has many safety features, such as the laser head stopping immediately when tilted. The laser head stops immediately when the machine is listed, and it also stops immediately when the laser cut plywood. In short, this is a laser cutter with a high level of safety.
The machine also has a swivel attachment, meaning you can engrave cylindrical plywood.
Gweike Cloud NOX
Price: $2499 (Free Shipping for US/EU/UK/CA )
The Gweike Cloud NOX is a 45w CO2 laser cutter with an unbelievable engraving speed of 500mm/s. It can cut up to 15mm of basswood plywood in a single pass. If you are looking for an economical desktop laser cutter, the Gweike Cloud NOX is a good choice.
At the same time, the machine is easy to operate for beginners. It supports lightburn and has auto-focus. All you need to do is set up the engraving parameters on the softkey, click on start, and it's straightforward to set up.
The safety of the machine is also excellent. Open the lid while the machine works, and it will stop immediately. The important thing is that it comes with a free fan which effectively sucks up the debris and fumes generated during the cutting process.
This is undoubtedly the best laser cut plywood machine for beginners.
Gweike Cloud RF
Price: $4,499 (Free Shipping for US/EU/UK/CA )
This is a machine for the experienced DIYer. It is compact and fully functional. It can cut plywood and supports cutting acrylic, fabric, marble, and many other materials. 38w CO2 laser for almost any DIY project.
With an engraving accuracy of 0.001" and a cutting speed of 1200mm/s, it surpasses almost all other laser cutters on the market. It also supports various intelligent operations, such as image extraction and auto-focusing.
Laser cut plywood operating tips
Like all wood, plywood can catch fire or burn during cutting. Here are some tips to help you avoid these problems.
Burn marks on the edges are one of the most common laser cut plywood problems, whether cutting wood or paper. A cut with burn marks looks flawed and needs to be more attractive. You can take the following steps to solve the problem of burn marks on the plywood.
- Apply tape to the surface of the material before cutting. This will effectively avoid the problem of burn marks on the cut. This is also the easiest way to prevent burn marks.
- Turning on the air assist helps reduce the cut edge's temperature, which reduces the chance of burn marks and burns to a certain extent.
- When burn marks have been created, they can be covered by applying paint or wiping them down with sandpaper, alcohol, etc.
Cutting wood, acrylic, fabric, and many other materials can have an unpleasant odor. Gweike's cutting machines are equipped with fans, effectively discharging the fumes generated during the cutting process to the outside. However, the fan does not guarantee you will not smell the slightest odor during cutting.
If you are very bothered by cutting odors, you can buy a professional filter cabinet to help you effectively filter out all unpleasant odors and fumes.
Do not panic if the material catches fire during laser cutting. You can immediately turn off the machine and cover the flames with a wet towel. It is recommended that a fire extinguisher is kept in all rooms where the cutter is stored, although the chances of the cutter catching fire are extremely small.
If the fire is too large, you must use a fire extinguisher to put it out. However, there is no need to worry as the chance of material burning during the cutting process is very small. It is also advisable to keep an eye on the machine when cutting unfamiliar materials for the first time.
Laser cut plywood is best done with a CO2 laser cutter, and the cutting parameters for different types of plywood are other, so you will need to keep testing to find the best plywood laser cutting settings.