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Density of Various Kinds of Wood and Plywood

Flexible Plywood

Wood/plywood density. Why it is important?!

There are a few parameters that matter when you do a laser cutting of wood/plywood: thickness, type of material and density.

There is a big demand for cutting wood and plywood on the market.

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You may use a Co2 laser, CNC mill or a diode laser for that.

 

The main question is to understand what type of wood or plywood can be easily cut with the laser and what laser cutting parameters should be used for it.

 

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In the post, we will highlight the density of different wood and plywood types.

What is density
What is density
How to calculate density
Measured in g. Measured in cm3. Measured in g/cm3. Measured using scales. Measured using a ruler. Find out the width, the length and the height. Multiply these together.

 

The density of wood and wood-based materials

To measure the weight of constructions the wood density should be taken according to the following table:

 

Types of woodDensity (Kg / M^3)
Softwood:Average to cut
larch650
pine, fir-tree, cedar, silver-fir500
Hardwood:Hard to cut
oak, birch, beech, ash, maple, horn-beech, acacia, elm700
Softwood:Very easy to cut
aspen, poplar, alder, linden500

 

Images of wood and plywood types

All these types of wood and plywood will be differently cut because they have different structures and a different densities.

 

  1. The density of freshly cut coniferous and soft hardwood should be 850 kg/m³, hardwood – 1000 kg/m³.
  2. The density of glued wood should be taken as non-glued.
  3. The density of ordinary plywood should be equal to that of veneer wood, and Bakelized plywood should have a density of 1000 kg/m³.
  4. The density of homodromous veneer wood is 500-600 kg/m³ (0.5-0.6 g / cm^3 and depends on the veneer wood.

 

Keep in mind that MDF is something different!

Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is a wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers, often in a defibrillator, combining it with wax and a resin binder, and forming it into panels by applying high temperature and pressure. MDF is generally denser (something like 0.8-0.85 g/ cm^3 than plywood that makes it very hard to cut even with Co2 lasers. It is made up of separated fibers. It is stronger and denser than particleboard.

 

Examples of soft plywood (laser ply)

Those types of plywood usually have a density 0.3-0.5 g / cm^3 which is light enough.

 

Live test of a 10 watt ENDURANCE PLUS PRO cutting abilities

Cutting different types of plywood (different thickness and different density)

Endurance makes high-end lasers for business and for a hobby!

 

Laser cutting with Endurance 15 watt DUOS laser

 

A reference table of the density of various wood species

Wood density of more common species of wood
Species of woodWood density kg / m³Easiness to cut
Balsa120-160Very easy
Siberian fir390-430Easy
Spruce400-450Easy
Sequoia410Easy
Poplar400-500Easy
Willow460Easy
Pine450-500Easy
Alser490Easy
Aspen510Medium
Linden530Medium
Mahogany540Medium
Horse chestnut560Medium
European chestnut590Medium
Cypress600Above medium
Bird cherry tree610Above medium
Sapelly620Above medium
Hazel630Above medium
Walnut640Above medium
Birch650Hard
Cherry tree660Hard
European white elm660Hard
Larch660Hard
English field maple670Hard
African oak670Hard
Common pear690Hard
Oak690Hard
Afromosia700Very hard
West Indies mahogany700Very hard
Sycamore700Very hard
Buckthorn710Very hard
Beech720Very hard
Horn-beech750Very hard
Padouk750Very hard
Yew750Very hard
Ash750Very hard
Doussia800Very hard
Kempas800Very hard
Plumtree800Very hard
Lilacs800Very hard
Thorn800Very hard
Palisander800 – 1000Extremely hard
Pecan tree830Extremely hard
Jarra830Extremely hard
Merbau840Extremely hard
Courbaril840Extremely hard
Dipteracarpus Alatus850Extremely hard
Coula nut850Extremely hard
Muntenia850Extremely hard
Wenge900Extremely hard
Lapacho900Extremely hard
Olive tree900Extremely hard
Sandal900Extremely hard
Panga-panga950Extremely hard
Boxwood960Extremely hard
Sieva bean970Extremely hard
Sukupira1 000Extremely hard
Cumaru1 100Extremely hard
True ebony1 080Extremely hard
Black tree1 160Extremely hard
Quebracho1 210Extremely hard
Guaiacum or bakaut1 280Extremely hard

Reference: https://krovli.club/strojmaterialy/plotnost-drevesiny

 

 

Main kinds of plywood (thickness and density)
Typeh (mmp (kg/m3
Standardfrom 3 (mm) to 30 (mm)650 (kg/m3)
Birchfrom 1 (mm) to 12 (mm)650 (kg/m3)
Bakelitefrom 5 (mm) to 40 (mm)1200 (kg/m3)
Decorativefrom 3 (mm) to 12 (mm)650 (kg/m3)

 

Wood density is the ratio of the wood mass to its volume. It is measured in kg/m3 . The wood density depends on its moisture content. All physical and mechanical properties of wood are determined at a moisture content of 12%. There’s a close relationship between mechanical strength and density. Heavier wood is more durable as a rule. Density is determined by the mass of a wood substance per unit volume. At a moisture content of 12% wood, depending on its density, can be divided into three groups:

 

Wood speciesDensity, g/cm3Density, kg/m3
Light
Balsa0.15150
Siberian fir0.39390
Fir tree0.45450
Willow0.46460
Alder0.46-0.64460-640
Aspen0.51510
Pine0.52520
Linden0.53530
Bloomy poplar0.55550
Medium-density
Horse chestnut0.56560
Cherry tree0.58580
Yew0.6600
Teak0.62-0.75620-750
Walnut0.64640
Sycamore maple0.65650
Maple0.65650
Birch0.65650
Beech0.65650
Cherry tree0.66660
Siberian fir tree0.66660
African oak0.67670
Beech0.68680
Oak0.69690
Mahogany0.70700
Sycamore0.70700
Hardwood
Ash0.75750
Plumtree0.80800
Horn tree0.80800
Pecan tree0.83830
Olive tree0.85-0.95850-950
Appletree0.9900
Boxwood0.96960
Black sapote1.081080

 

In an absolutely dry condition, the density is by 20-40% less than the one indicated in the table.

 

The wood density has a great practical meaning. The denser wood is heavier and harder and is more durable and harder to process. The denser wood is hard to be treated with wood preservatives, but it is more durable and wear-resistant when used for floors, stairs, railings.

 

If you substitute one wood species for another one the volume (and, accordingly, mass) of the adhesive in one cubic meter will change very little.

 

You can find out the general adhesive mass in a cubic meter by subtracting, for example, the specific weight of dry pine (500 kg/m3) from the specific weight of pine plywood.

To find out the mass of a cube of material from the veneer of larch, poplar, or linden it is just necessary to add 50 kg to the weight of dry wood of the corresponding species.

 

Our customer made and share

Laser cutting of a thick type of plywood

“Holy Guacamole
I didn’t have any 3mm ply wood around. But i did have 5mm plywood and 9mm plywood.
So I thought, lets put it through the test. 9mm took about 20 passes and had to lower Z axis 5mm for last 10 passes. The 5mm did a clean cut no change to Z in <8 passes.
Videos to follow in post.”

by Frank Estrada

Watch video footage

Conclusion

Use low-density plywood and wood for quick, efficient, and accurate laser cutting.

If wood or plywood has a density less than 500 Kg/m^3 (0.5 g / Cm^3) then it can be quite easily cut with diode, Co2 and CNC mill

Wood and plywood with a medium-density like 500-700 Kg/m^3 (0.5-0.7 g / Cm^3) would require air assist, very good focusing and a laser-cut speed would be lower and amounts of repeats will be higher.

Wood and plywood with a high density like 700-1000 Kg/m^3 or 0.7-1 g / Cm^3 would be very hard to cut and probably will require a professional powerful milling system or Co2 laser power more than 100 watt for clean edges. Diode lasers might only cut very thin pieces like 1-2mm (1/10”)

 

Laser-cut gallery using different types of plywood

Endurance lasers are very universal and can do very accurate laser cutting.

 

TOP – 20 things you can make with the laser

 

 

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