Wood dedicated for laser cutting/engraving !?

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Wood dedicated for laser cutting/engraving !?

Post by Downunder35m »

We all know that it pays off to get things like hand selected wooden boards or specially fabricated plywood.
But for those new to the game I though I try to shed some light on what makes laser wood better than other wood.

First off though: There is no such thing as "ideal" or "smoke free" when it comes to cutting or engaving wood with a laser!
Without at least goof fume extraction you are lost...

For the real wood we have too many varieties to list them here
But the favourites seem to bee birch poplar and alder for the light colored woods and walnut, or other fancy woods for those draker jobs.
Maple seems to be popular for general use, especially in areas where it grows naturally.
The only real difference that makes these woods laser suitable is their selection process.
-No one wants pine due to the resin content but we also need to factor in the grain structure of the wood.
If you ever tried to engrave on endgrain pieces you know the results suck.
So laser wood often comes in very even colors and with wittle sudden shading.
Provides more uniform results than the off the shelf variety from your hardware store.
Does not mean though you can get some great pieces for cheap there!
After all the mills usually won't sort it ...
If you have a decidated timber supply store close by pay them a visit - often the guys are happy to point out some pieces that suit you well.

We have several types of MDF.
Plain standard for general use, semi water proof, waxes for floorboards and such where water and be an issue otherwise.
It is fine fibres, put together with glue and wax to provide the look and stability you know.
While the fibres burn off easy, the wax produces lots of smoke and the glue often won't really burn off properly at all.
What you want is fine ash or things to vaporise but some of these glues actually produce reamins that won#t even burn off with a blow torch.
Laser rated MDF uses special glu and often no wax at all.
Given better results, less smoke and far easier cutting.
Like with most things you can find laser suitable MDF if you know what to look for.
Really dark and labled as water resistent? Stay away...
Light color, almost like pine and some longer fibres visiible in it? Give a small sample a try ;)

Laserply VS hardware store....
Like the dedicated MDF laserply uses special glue, phenol free or at least with massively reduced amounts of phenol.
But that is only the smallest difference with the least impact on the price.
Normal playwood only needs to look great on ONE side.
Quite often you find that cheap plywood has one side with little color changes and grain patterns while the other looks "ugly".
And this continues on the inside.
Wood ships and leftovers make the filling for normal plywood.
Means there will always be some gaps and voids.
these are filled with putty and other stuff - and it won't work well on your laser.
To make things worse, quite often areas are not filled up at all, making cut out parts break quite easy.
Sometime you can get luck in craft shops.
Some sell fine plywood for model makers and creators that is already of similar quality than laserply, just a few bucks cheaper.
If you never tried laserply then give a test to compare it to your favourite plywood.
Either way don't be fooled by some seller advertising plywood that won't show dicoloration when cut with a laser.....
Exploring the works of the old inventors, mixng them up with a modern touch.
To tinker and create means to be alive.
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