Laser Cutting Plywood: The Definitive Guide

laser cutting plywood
Cutting plywood is quite complicated. Perfection in a plywood cutting project requires skills and modern technology. You can use laser cutters for cutting and engraving plywood. This article will help you learn about laser-cutting plywood. You'll also understand its benefits and various aspects.

Table of Contents

What is Plywood?

Plywood is a manufactured wood type, consisting of thin layers of wood veneer or timber. According to the BBC, plywood is one of the strongest boards made by attaching timber sheets at 90° to each other. This arrangement gives the plywood strength and stability.

Plywood comes in various grades and thicknesses. The number of veneer sheets used to make plywood also affects its stability. It allows the manufacturers to pick the most suitable option for their project requirements.

Various types of plywood.

Benefits of Laser Cutting Plywood

The usage of laser technology is a modern technique for plywood cutting. Here are some of the benefits of laser-cutting plywood:

1. Minimal Final Processing

Traditional methods of cutting wood give you rough edges and uneven cuts. You must refine and process the edges to get the desired results. Laser cutting saves you from this hassle by offering you refined cuts.

2. Exceptional Precision

A focused laser beam allows you to accurately cut the plywood into the required patterns and shapes. As the intense laser beam falls on the plywood, it melts and vaporizes that area. It enables you to create intricate designs without any mistakes.

Laser machine engraving patterns on a plywood sheet.

3. Minimal Material Wastage

Conventional cutting tools give you too large cuts that are not required. Laser engraving and cutting allow precise cuts with minimum material wastage. You can move the laser beam to a specific area you want to cut. The laser melts the material and creates a clean cut without damaging the surrounding areas.

4. Versatility

Laser cutting is a versatile technique that allows you to easily create various patterns. You can customize designs according to your project requirements. You can also engrave patterns on the plywood surface. It allows you to be creative and make unique patterns on plywood sheets.

5. Low-Cost

Cutting plywood by laser cutter not only saves your time but also saves your money. With its little maintenance requirement, your laser can last long and do its job for years. Moreover, you don’t need accessories for various projects. It saves you money, making laser cutting an affordable option.

What Laser Should You Use to Cut Plywood?

Choosing the right laser machine for cutting plywood is necessary to achieve precise cuts. CO2 laser cutters best suit the task of cutting plywood among various types of laser cutters. They work well with various types of plywood.

The CO2 laser uses a mixture of CO2 gas and some auxiliary gases, including hydrogen, helium, xenon, and nitrogen. Its laser beam has a longer wavelength compared to other lasers. It lets the laser beam melt and vaporize the plywood surface without burn marks.

Moreover, these laser cutters create accurate cuts with minimum kerf width. Another aspect that makes CO2 laser cutters suitable for cutting plywood is their ability to cut various thicknesses.

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Which Types of Plywood are Suitable for Laser Cutting?

Plywood is a suitable material for laser engraving and cutting. The following are some common types of plywood that you can use for laser cutting:

1. Birch Plywood

Birch plywood is a popular choice for laser cutting due to its reliability. Its appearance also makes it suitable for this process. Another admirable aspect of birch is its convenient usage. You can smoothly cut it with the laser beam. Beginners and professionals can use it to craft delicate art pieces and heavy-duty products.

2. Bamboo Plywood

If you want to step forward and work with more exotic plywood, you should go with bamboo laser plywood. Laser machines can effectively cut and engrave bamboo plywood, making it suitable for various projects, from intricate designs to decorative items. Bamboo’s distinct grain pattern adds a natural look to laser-cut creations.

Moreover, its unique colors, ranging from light and vibrant to dark and intense brown, make it a perfect choice for various projects.

Use the laser cutter to cut Plywood

3. European Beech Plywood

No less than any other plywood type, European beech plywood is another excellent option for laser-cutting projects and DIYs.

Its unique appearance with its rich, golden-brown color is perfect for detailed engraving work and precision cuts. The glowing finish of the European beech plywood further enhances its elegance, making it an ideal fit for people who value aesthetics and functionality in their laser-cutting materials.

4. Hoop Pine

Hoop Pine is another well-recognized option for laser cutting. It is a durable plywood type that ensures the durability of your laser-cut plywood products. This thicker plywood is also ideal for manufacturing furniture, jewelry, and other items.

5. Jarrah

Jarrah presents a unique and visually appealing option for laser cutting. This richly colored plywood offers a distinctive grain pattern that can be beautifully cut and engraved using laser cutting machines. Its deep, reddish-brown hues add a touch of elegance to laser-cut projects, making it an excellent choice for decorative and high-end applications.

Laser machine cutting plywood.

The Process of Laser Cutting Plywood

Whether working on DIY crafts or industrial projects, laser-cutting machines can help you create stunning items. Before beginning such projects, you should know the steps of the laser cutting process. Let’s explore the steps of plywood laser cutting:

I. Choose The Plywood

Before starting your laser cutting project, you need to determine the type of plywood you should use. The choice of the plywood type depends on the requirements of the end product.

Birch plywood is considered the best choice for getting smooth and clear cuts. However, other plywood types also work well. To achieve a unique look, try different types of plywood with various grains and textures to create a distinct design.

II. Design Preparation

Starting laser cutting without a design is like driving without a map. A well-thought-out design plan is essential to achieve the desired outcome.

You can create your design using computer-aided design (CAD) software, such as AutoCAD or Adobe Illustrator. According to BBC, a computer-aided design (CAD) system controls laser movement during cutting and engraving.

A laser cutting cutting designs on a plywood sheet.

III. Laser Setup

Laser setup is also crucial for a smooth cutting process. Secure your plywood sheet on the laser cutting bed and adjust the focus of the laser beam according to the thickness of your plywood. Your laser-cutting machine should be clean and well-maintained for optimal results.

You can test the laser setting on a small piece of plywood before cutting the entire design to ensure the right settings are in place.

IV. Safety Precautions

Safety precautions are also crucial for a successful laser-cutting process. Wear protective gear, including safety glasses and gloves, and follow proper ventilation guidelines when working with lasers.

V. Cutting And Engraving Plywood

Start the cutting and engraving process once you have set up the laser. Ensure your design is aligned correctly on the plywood sheet before cutting. As the laser beam falls on the plywood sheet, it heats the material and vaporizes it, creating a clean cut. You can also engrave the plywood with intricate designs or text by adjusting the parameters like speed and power of the laser cutter.

VI. Post-Processing

Post-processing is crucial to ensure a smooth finish and remove any residue from the cutting process. After removing the plywood sheet from the laser cutter, use finishing techniques to create a polished look. Sanding the edges of the cut pieces and applying a clear coat can enhance the appearance of your project.

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5 Simple Plywood Projects to Make with Laser Cutter

Creating plywood projects with a laser cutter blends modern technology with traditional woodworking materials. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

1. Customized Coasters

Costers have become popular due to their unique designs and practicality. You can easily make customized coasters with intricate designs for yourself or as gifts with a laser cutter. Combining the wood’s natural texture with laser-engraved designs can create a beautiful and unique piece.

2. Jewelry

With a laser cutter, you can create stunning and intricate jewelry pieces from thin plywood sheets. The laser cutter allows for precise cutting of delicate designs that would be challenging to achieve with traditional woodworking tools. Adding a coat of varnish or paint can give the jewelry a professional look.

3. Wall Art

Plywood is an excellent canvas for cutting and engraving eye-catching designs, making it perfect for creating wall art. You can create custom wall art pieces by cutting out shapes, patterns, or text.

4. Home Decor

Another use for laser-cut plywood is in home decor pieces such as lamps, photo frames, or ornaments. You can easily cut out precise designs and add a personal touch to your home decor with laser. The result is a unique piece that gives an elegant outlook to your house.

A plywood boat made by using laser cutter.

5. Door Hangers

Custom door hangers are a great idea for both personal and business use. You can create custom shapes, designs, or logos with laser cutting to add a personalized touch to the door hanger. Door hangers are also an excellent marketing tool for businesses, making a lasting impression on potential customers.

More Tips for Plywood Laser Cutting

Laser cutting requires care and precision to achieve the desired results. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your plywood laser-cutting projects:

1 – Avoid Burn Edges

Burnt edges are a common issue when laser-cutting plywood. It often damages the appearance of the final product. It happens when the laser is too hot or moving too slowly. To avoid this, adjust the cutting speed and power of the laser according to your plywood type. Use a laser machine from a reliable manufacturer for better control.

We have prepared an article for you on how to prevent burning when laser cutting wood.

2 – Create a Well-Ventilated Working Space

The burning of the adhesive material of plywood releases toxic fumes. Maintain a well-ventilated working space while laser-cutting plywood to avoid inhaling these fumes. Wear a protective mask for additional protection.

Moreover, you should choose plywood made with an adhesive that does not produce toxic fumes. According to Kitronik, laser-grade materials should not burst into flames and should be non-toxic.

3 – Keep Fire Safety Precautions in Mind

Laser cutters release heat and sparks during their operations. Excessive head and spark can cause a fire. To prevent such accidents, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Also, ensure that your work area does not contain any explosive products.

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a. Why a laser machine is the right tool for laser cutting plywood?

A laser machine is the ideal tool for cutting plywood due to its precision and efficiency. The focused laser beam gives you accurate cuts, enabling you to make intricate and complex designs on plywood sheets. Moreover, lasers produce minimal heat, reducing the risk of charring or warping the wood, which is crucial for maintaining the quality of the final product.

b. How Thick of Plywood Can a Laser Cutter Cut?

Various lasers work for different plywood thicknesses. However, most laser cutters are designed to cut up to 20mm thick plywood sheets. You can find laser cutters that can cut thicker sheets.

c. How strong of a laser to cut plywood?

To cut plywood, a CO2 laser between 40 to 150 watts is typically used, depending on the thickness and type of plywood. Thinner sheets might require only 40 watts, while denser or thicker plywood benefits from 100 watts or more. Adjustments in speed and focus, combined with adequate ventilation, ensure precision and safety.


Laser-cutting is an excellent technique for cutting patterns and designs on plywood. By following the steps of the laser cutting process, you can achieve clean cuts on various types of plywood. However, don’t forget about the safety measures while working with the laser. Keep your working area clean and well-ventilated.

Discover Plywood Laser Cutters With Baison Laser!

A laser cutter with the right adjustment is crucial to cut and engrave wood. You also need to consider its durability for long-lasting use. Baison Laser offers high-quality laser cutters for your plywood cutting projects. Contact us today to learn more about our products and get the best laser cutter for your next project.

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Sam Chen

Hey there, I’m Sam!

I’m the founder of Baison. We have been helping manufacturing industries increase their productivity and capacity with our advanced fiber laser systems for over 20 years.

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