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Laser Cutting Plywood: The Ultimate Guide

by Winnie Li Updated on April 08, 2024

Plywood is a versatile and durable material that can be used for making various products and items, such as furniture, jewelry, decorative items, and more. If you have the skills and tools to cut and engrave plywood, you can create a wide range of products for your inventory.

But how do you cut and engrave plywood with precision and quality? What kind of plywood should you use? What kind of machine do you need?

In this comprehensive guide on laser cutting plywood, we will answer all these questions and more. We will also help you choose the best plywood and the right machine for plywood laser cutting with perfection.

In This Article

  • How Laser Cutting Plywood Works?
  • What Type of Laser to Cut Plywood?
  • How Thick of Plywood Can a Laser Cutter Cut?
  • Best Laser Cutters for Plywood
  • Best Plywood for Laser Cutting and Engraving
  • Laser Cut Plywood Projects
  • More Tips for Plywood Laser Cutting and Engraving
  • FAQs on Laser Cutting Plywood
  • Conclusion

How Laser Cutting Plywood Works?

laser cutting plywood

Laser cutting is a technique that uses a high-energy laser beam to cut through materials with precision and speed. 

The process of laser cutting plywood involves focusing the laser beam on the surface of the plywood and moving it along the desired path, which is controlled by software. The laser beam heats up and vaporizes the wood material along the cut line, cutting the plywood into desired shape. 

In addition, wood laser cutters can also engrave intricate designs and patterns on plywood with fine details.

laser engraving plywood

What Type of Laser to Cut Plywood?

To laser cut plywood, you need a suitable type of laser. You can use a diode laser or CO2 laser cutter to cut and engrave wood and plywood.

Fiber laser cutters are mainly designed for cutting metals, and they are not recommended for cutting plywood. Fiber lasers are too powerful and can cause the plywood to catch fire. Moreover, fiber lasers create poor marks on wood that are not readable or aesthetically pleasing.

How Thick of Plywood Can a Laser Cutter Cut?

The thickness of plywood that a laser cutter can cut depends on the type of laser and the power of the laser. Let's understand these variables.

As far as the type of laser is concerned, CO2 lasers are quite powerful. They can cut plywood easily. However, diode lasers are also excellent. Moreover, diode lasers have a longer life compared to CO2 lasers.

The power of the laser plays a very important role. The higher the power, the more easily it can cut wood or other materials.

For example, the diode laser cutter, xTool S1, can cut 15mm plywood in one pass.

laser cut plywood thichness of xtool s1

By power, we mean the laser optical/output power. You might see various power ratings listed in the specification. The machine power represents the power consumed by the machine.

The laser module also has two powers; one is the laser optical/output power, and the other is the laser electrical power. You need to see the optical/output while selecting a laser engraving or cutting machine.

If the laser machine cannot cut the plywood in one pass, it will take one or two more passes. But several passes mean the machine will take more time, which will reduce productivity.

Best Laser Cutters for Plywood

Plywood is an engineered wood that can be laser cut by both CO2 and diode laser machines. Considering that, here’s a list of top machines that can cut plywood effectively:

xTool S1: The Powerful Diode Laser Cutter for Plywood

xtool s1: diode laser cutter for plywood

S1, with its 40W laser module, is currently the most powerful enclosed diode laser cutter available. This much power is enough for cutting plywood.

Besides power, S1’s key highlight is its safety as depicted in the name (safety-first). It’s a class 1 laser product that includes multiple safety features for the users. The machine is fully enclosed and features a laser filtering lid, a smart lid open safety stop, and 5-direction flame sensors.

The machine has a bed size of 23.93*15.93 inches, larger than most competitors in the same category, which offer 15*13 inches. It features an automated passthrough slot that removes length restraints, allowing for work on plywood sheets up to 118 inches long.

laser cutter that can cut long plywood sheets

S1 also introduces some of the new positioning technologies. Most of the machine features a camera system for design positioning. S1 leads with a technically advanced pin-point positing system that uses encoders and intelligent algorithms to sketch a layout of the object. Users just mark points with laser heads, and the machine plots the layout automatically.

The S1 is capable of flat surface, curved, and rotary engraving; the latter requires an additional attachment, RA2 Pro. There are add-ons to enhance the machine's use, such as air assist to prevent burn marks, a smoke purifier for enclosed space use, and a riser base for thick plywood sheets.

xTool P2: Best CO2 Laser Cutter for Plywood

xTool P2 is one of the most powerful desktop CO2 laser cutters currently available. Its 55W optical power lets you easily slice plywood (up to 18mm). This CO2 laser machine has better absorption efficiency, which makes it almost 500% quicker than the diode laser cutter (40W) in the category.

xtool p2: co2 laser cutter for plywood

Similar to the S1, the xTool P2 also features a large bed size of 26 by 14 inches, surpassing the offerings of its competitors. Its expandability is a significant advantage; it allows for extension in two directions. With riser bases, users can handle greater thicknesses, while a passthrough slot accommodates lengths up to 118 inches.

For precise design positioning, the P2 is equipped with a dual camera setup. This not only provides a real-time preview of the object for mapping designs but also enables detailed material inspection. The system also facilitates batch engraving on multiple objects. Additionally, P2 utilizes LIDAR technology for exact distance measurements, ensuring clear and precise cuts every time.

P2 is designed for small businesses, especially woodworkers and wood crafters, who are aiming to create and sell plywood crafts with it. The machine supports the popular laser software, Lightburn. However, if you’re a beginner, it’s recommended to use our user-friendly software, XCS.

Best Plywood for Laser Cutting and Engraving

Different types of plywood are available, so it is difficult for a beginner to choose one. But it becomes easier if you know what factors you need to consider.

First, you need to check the type of plywood and the shade of the plywood

The shade of the plywood depends on your requirements and preference. The type of plywood will give you a better idea of the resin content, grain, available shades, and finishing.

You also need to look at the wood grain. It might not look appealing on the product you are making or might add to its beauty. 

You can get an idea of the resin content by searching. If the resin content is high, the engraving results will be darker. But if the resin content is low, the engraving will be light.

Once you consider these factors, you can easily choose the right plywood for your work. Here are some plywood types, along with their details. It will give you a better idea of what you need to look at.

Birch Plywood

birch plywood for laser cutting

Beginners can start their plywood laser cutting journey with birch plywood. It is one of the most commonly bought plywood for laser cutting and engraving. The appearance, finish, and color of the plywood are excellent. It can be cut without any hassle and at a faster pace.

Bamboo Plywood

bamboo plywood for laser cutting

Bamboo plywood is known for its excellent cutting results. It is available in multiple shades that you can choose. It gives an appealing light brown color at the edges. It has a natural lining or wood grain that is quite visible. If you do not want dense grain, then this is not the right plywood for you.

Hoop Pine

Hoop Pine plywood has an incredible finish that can be used to make high-end and luxury items based on quality/grade. It has smooth grain, which looks suitable for engraving as well. It is strong, durable, and water-resistant.

Other types of plywood that are suitable for laser cutting and engraving are,

Laser Cut Plywood Projects

With a laser cutter, you can transform plywood into amazing creations that showcase your creativity and skills. In this section, we will show you five simple plywood laser cutting projects that you can make with a laser cutter. These projects are easy to follow and suitable for beginners and experts alike. Whether you want to make something for yourself or as a gift, these projects will inspire you to explore the possibilities of plywood laser cutting.

Wooden Wall Clock

laser cut plywood wall clock

Nothing beats a handmade wall clock to add some charm and personality to your home. With a laser cutter, you can turn a piece of plywood into a beautiful clock face that reflects your style and taste. Whether you prefer a simple or intricate design, a round or square shape, a natural or colorful finish, you can make it happen with a laser cutter. All you need is a clock mechanism and some hardware to hang it on the wall.

Wood Wall Art

laser cut plywood wall art

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your walls, why not try making your own wood wall art with a laser cutter? You can cut out any shape or design you like from plywood and create a stunning piece of art that will impress your guests. You can also add some depth and dimension by stacking different layers of plywood together. Just glue them together and attach some hooks or hangers on the back.

Wooden Door Hanger

laser cut plywood door hanger

A door hanger is a fun and easy way to decorate your door for the holidays. With a laser cutter, you can cut out any shape you want from plywood and paint it with festive colors. You can also add some text or embellishments to make it more personal and inviting. For example, you can make a snowman, a gingerbread man, a reindeer, or a Christmas tree door hanger and add some ribbon, bells, or ornaments to make it sparkle. 

Christmas Ornaments

laser cut plywood Christmas ornament

A Christmas ornament is a special and meaningful gift that you can make for yourself or someone else. With a laser cutter, you can cut out any shape you want from plywood and engrave it with your name, initials, or a message. You can also choose from different designs, such as a star, a heart, a snowflake, or a circle. Then, just tie some twine or string around it and hang it on the tree. 

Wooden Coasters Set

laser cut plywood coasters

A coaster set is a practical and stylish plywood project that you can make for your home or as a gift. With a laser cutter, you can cut out any design you want from plywood and protect your table from stains and spills. You can also add some cork or rubber backing to make them more stable and durable. You can choose from different designs, such as images, text, logos, or patterns. You can also apply some varnish or sealant to make them more resistant to moisture and heat. 

More Tips for Plywood Laser Cutting and Engraving

Laser Cut Plywood without Burning it

The burning of edges when you laser cut plywood or wood is quite common. It does not look appealing at all. There are a few tactics to reduce the edge burn while cutting.

First, you can try some other settings on your laser machine. Try a lower power and higher speed.

For surface edge burns, you can try applying masking tape on the plywood before engraving and cutting. The burn marks will appear on the masking tape, and the wood will remain safe.

The main cause of these burns is the production of smoke. Therefore, an air assist and exhaust system in the laser machine can be very helpful.

You can remove the burned edges using sandpaper. You can also try soap and denatured alcohol to clean the burnt area.


The smell is because of the adhesive used in plywood. You cannot eliminate this smell, but if you use an air assist and exhaust system, then there won't be an issue of smell.

Some laser machines are enclosed, and they have an exhaust system, such as xTool P2 and xTool S1 . While in some machines, you can attach the exhaust system and use an enclosure.

Fire Safety

The laser machine should be equipped with the safety feature or a fire safety set of detecting any flame or fire. Never leave it unattended when it is working. Plus, you should also arrange a fire extinguisher to deal with any problem.

The fire in plywood cutting is mostly caused by the debris and particles that result from cutting. There should be an air assist to blow the residue away.

FAQs on Laser Cutting Plywood

What Are the Settings for Laser Cutting Plywood?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer for laser cutting plywood settings. It's always best to do a test cut on scrap plywood before starting your project. However, if you use an xTool machine, you can check our material settings library for the settings for specific machines.

laser cutting plywood settings

How Much Laser Power Does it Take to Cut Plywood?

The amount of laser power required to cut plywood depends on the thickness of the material. 

  • For hobbyist diode lasers: At least 10 watts are recommended, with 20 watts being ideal for thicker plywood.
  • For CO2 lasers (more powerful): The specific wattage will depend on the machine and plywood thickness.

What is the Best Laser for Cutting Plywood?

The "best" laser for cutting plywood depends on your needs and budget. Here's a breakdown of two common types:

  • CO2 laser cutters: More powerful and can cut thicker plywood in a single pass. Better suited for business purpose. They tend to be more expensive than diode lasers.
  • Diode laser cutters: More affordable and compact, good for thinner wood and hobby projects. May struggle with thicker plywood or require multiple passes.


Plywood can be cut using a CO2 or diode laser engraving and cutting machine. With the necessary precautions and tricks, you can get the best results. We have shared how you can choose plywood and the best machine for its cutting and engraving. You can pick any of those according to your requirements and the type of products you wish to make.

For more questions. Please join our Facebook group to get inspired!

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