Blue/Pink Foam

(extruded polystyrene)

Recommended for people new to milling and for most surface milling jobs.

pros: inexpensive, lightweight and transportable, mills quickly with inexpensive tools, paintable with gesso and water-based paints.

cons: dimensionally unstable so must be mounted to a more rigid backing, color may require painting, will not withstand significant wear and tear.

sources: available in 2’ widths up to 8’ in length in 2” thickness from Lowes or Home Depot

 

High-density Foam

(extruded polyurethane)

pros: dimensionally stable, uniform color, homogenous material, mills quickly with inexpensive tools, capable of being milled into thin surfaces

cons: relatively expensive, limited sizes, must order from vendor well ahead of time

sources: available online from General Plastics and Freeman Supply.

 

Plywood

(Grade A recommended)

pros: withstands wear and tear, layers create interesting effect (but often distracting) dimensionally stable

cons: potentially expensive, may require specialized cutting tools, layers are of different quality and may contain knots.

sources: available locally at Mawson Lumber (they will deliver for free) and Home Depot.

 

MDF

(medium density fiberboard)

pros: dimensionally stable, uniform color, homogenous material

cons: requires expensive cutting tools, creates hazardous dust. Some suppliers offer a formaldehyde free product that is less hazardous.

sources: available locally at Mawson Lumber (they will deliver) and Home Depot.

 

Solid wood

Solid wood materials come in a range wide range of hardnesses with varying grain qualities.

pros: looks nice, will withstand wear and tear

cons: can be expensive, not dimensionally stable, limited sizes, may require expensive cutting tools. More dense woods may require more complex milling strategies and can be slower operations.

sources: available locally at Mawson Lumber, Sears Trostel, and Home Depot.