Wood Laser Engraving: A Beginner's Guide

by xTool online store on July 07, 2022

Laser engraving machines have made wood engraving easier, better, and faster than ever. But unfortunately, wood engraving has always been challenging for new users because it requires expertise and experience. 

The wood might not offer the expected engraving results or ruin your whole effort. There are many inconsistencies that prevent beginners and new users from engraving wood. Many users get frustrated and quit engraving wood at the start of their laser engraving journey.

The user needs to understand wood engraving before starting it. It is a must to understand how to select the right wood for engraving, how to do it with extra care, and what ideas can be implemented as a beginner to get hands-on wood engraving. 

In this article, we have gathered every piece of information required for wood laser engraving. We will share what types of wood are suitable for engraving, which machine you can choose, the settings of the machine for engraving, and various other tips and tricks to make wood engraving easier for beginners. We will also discover how wood engraving can be done with ultimate perfection.

How to Choose the Wood to Be Laser Engraved?

All types of laser engraving machines, including diode lasers, are capable of wood laser engraving. They have enough power to vaporize the material where the beams fall. But sometimes, you don't get the desired results. It is because of the wood you have selected.

Unfortunately, not all types of wood can offer you the best engraving results. There are many inconsistencies when it comes to wood. Surprisingly, even if you are using the same species of wood, the best result is not guaranteed because even though the species are the same, their internal resin content can be different.

While selecting wood for laser engraving, there are three things that the user should keep in mind.

Resin Content

The first thing that you need to consider is the resin content of the wood you are choosing. Resin is a natural viscous liquid present in the trees, especially in the resinous trees known for producing resins.

If the resin content of the wood is high, the final engraving will be darker. It is due to the burning of the resin when laser beams fall on the surface. With that being said, woods that contain low resin content have a light engraving pattern.

Resinous trees are soft as they contain the resin liquid, and on the other hand, non-resinous trees have very hard wood. For instance, cherry wood is soft because it contains resin.

Wood pieces have a lot of inconsistencies; even the same species might not have the expected resin content in it. If you are an experienced craftsman and have been seeing different types of wood for years, you might have an idea of the color of the wood. If the color of the wood is lighter than usual, it is low in resin content.

Shade of the Wood

The next important factor in choosing wood type is the shade. This factor is self-explanatory, and the shade of the wood can easily be seen.

Engraving is actually the burning of wood, so the result is a dark pattern that is darker than the original color of the wood. But if the shade of the wood is already dark, the engraving won't be much visible. Thus, it is better to choose wood types that have a lighter shade.

Streaking

Streaks refer to the lines that are naturally present in the wood. These do not create any hindrance in engraving, but they affect the final result. The streaks are visible after engraving, and they ruin the beauty of engraving. The streaks should be as minimal as possible to make the engraving more visible to the viewer.

Some of the common natural and engineered wood types preferred for engraving are:

  • Alder
  • Cherry wood
  • Maple
  • Basswood
  • Plywood
  • MDF
  • HDF
  • Balsa

How to Avoid Burn Marks When Laser Engraving Wood?

When laser beams strike wood, the surface starts to burn, and the particles start to burn and vaporize quickly. Due to burning, there can be burn marks after engraving that give a bad look or unfinished appearance to the engraved object. It is a must to avoid burn marks to ensure the attractiveness of engraving.

1. Adjust Power and Speed

The first that you can do is adjust the power and speed settings of the laser engraving machine. If the laser machine is giving off excessive power, it will definitely leave burn marks. High power starts burning the wood and particles from the edges. Thus, you need to reduce the power as low as possible.

Speed also plays an important role in avoiding burn marks. If the speed is low, the laser beams will spend more time on the object and cause burn marks. So, the speed should be high enough to perform engraving with accuracy and reduce burn marks.

Power is directly proportional to burn marks, while the speed is inversely proportional. Both should be set to get the best results.

2. Use the Right Laser Bed

When laser beams strike the object, excessive heat is produced. It is essential to dissipate the heat; otherwise, it will increase the temperature of the wood. If the heat dissipation is not optimal, there will be burn marks for sure.

honeycomb panel

It is recommended to use a honeycomb panel for engraving. It not only saves the surface underneath it but also prevents burn marks by offering excellent heat dissipation.

3. Use Air assist

Due to engraving, smoke is produced from the surface of the wood. This smoke accumulates around the object and increases its temperature. Therefore, it is another reason for burn marks because of its high temperature. In addition, the smoke also turns the wood yellow.

The smoke can be blown away with the help of an air assist. For laser engraving machines, an air assist is an essential part. It provides a steady and high-pressure airflow to blow the hot smoke. 

4. Use Laser Engraving Masking Tape

Laser engraving masking tape is an excellent idea to avoid burn marks. When you apply the tape, the first thing that comes in contact with the laser beams is the tape. It prevents the smoke or fumes produced during engraving, so the burn marks are prevented. After engraving, the tape can easily be peeled off from the surface.

5. Apply Water to Wood

The reason behind burn marks is the excessive temperature. When you make the wood piece wet, the water helps in reducing the temperature. It is one of the easiest ways to prevent wood burns, but after doing it, you need to let the wood dry. Keep in mind that water can also affect the wood's shape and appearance.

How to Deal with the Smoke and Smell During Wood Engraving?

First of all, laser engraving should be done in a well-ventilated space. It helps in removing the smoke and smell produced during engraving. If there are windows, you can open them and use ventilation fans for air circulation.

The smell and smoke accumulate around the object. Therefore, it is necessary to use an air assist. The air assist blows high-pressure air on the object. It disperses the heat and smoke in the area. Due to the powerful air pressure, the user does not feel the smoke and smell if the area is also well-ventilated.

Also a smoke purifier is also suggested to be applied during the wood laser engraving process.

Wood Engraving Ideas for Beginners

Here are a few engraving ideas that beginners can try on their laser engraving machines. 

Cutting Board

A cutting board is one of the easiest wood engraving ideas for beginners. You only need to take a piece of wood or a pre-made cutting board. Then select a suitable design for engraving. It can also be used for decoration purposes.

wood cutting board

Wall Hangings

Wooden wall hangings are an excellent idea for decorating a house with homemade items. You can either engrave an image or design on a piece of wood or create a 3D wall hanging using multiple layers of wood pieces.

Wooden Coasters

Wooden coasters can be customized by engraving names, images, or slogans. They are great for special events, such as St Patrick's Day or National Day. The coaster can also be used for decoration. The pre-made wooden coasters are available in online stores, so you only need to select the design.

Engraved Rolling Pin

Rolling pins can be engraved to make different patterns on the dough. According to the event, you can engrave the designs on the pin. You need to use the rotary attachment for the purpose.

wood rolling pin

Jewelry Box

An amazing jewelry box can be made using plywood. A couple of millimeters of thick plywood can be engraved and cut as required. Then, these pieces can be joined together to create an amazing jewelry box.

Jigsaw Puzzle

For kids, you can make a jigsaw puzzle. First, you need to engrave any design on the plywood. Then, you can cut the pieces of wood like a jigsaw puzzle.

Best Laser Machine for Wood Engraving

xTool D1 is a diode laser engraving and cutting machine that is compatible with a wide range of materials, including different types of wood. Its powerful and highly focused laser can easily cut and engraved wood with ultimate accuracy and precision.

xtool d1

The most important feature of xTool D1 is its dual laser technology along with a high focus lens. The dual laser technology combines more than one diode laser at one spot using several reflectors. Then, the beams are passed through a convex lens to compress the beams at a very tiny spot. This tiny spot has dimensions 0.08 x 0.08mm.

With all these extraordinary arrangements, xTool D1 is capable of engraving wood and other material with high precision and accuracy. Even fine details in the engraving are clearly visible because of the fine laser spot.

The laser machine can cut different types of wood of considerable thicknesses. Most importantly, there are three diode laser modules having an optical power of 5W, 10W, and 20W, and the user can choose what he needs for engraving the wood.

If the user wants to engrave thick wood at a fast speed, then he can choose the world's most powerful diode laser (20W) for the engraving. It is an ideal diode module for offering quick and perfect engraving. In addition, if you want to cut wood, that is also possible with xTool D1.

There is a wide range of compatible wood types that can be engraved using the machine. It includes basswood plywood, walnut plywood, Fraxinus mandshurica plywood, cherry plywood, and various other solid wood types. With that being said, the user has a wide range of wood types to choose from and create different objects and products.

The machine also offers a repeat position accuracy of 0.02mm and is suitable for vector and raster engraving. It offers ultra-fine vector graphics with high precision, even at a very high speed. The synchronous belt can be tightened to achieve the desired precision. 

xTool D1 can also engrave wood cylinders. It is compatible with RA2 Pro, world's first 4-in-1 rotary attachment that can work in 90% daily cylindrical engraving scenarios. Users can engrave regular and irregular cylinders using the machine. They can even engrave large baseball bats using the rotary attachment. 

Considering all the features, xTool D1 is the best laser machine for wood engraving. It can engrave almost all commonly used solid and engineered wood types. The result of the engraving is ultra-fine with high accuracy. It considers the fine details and offers optimal precision. Therefore, it is an ideal machine for wood engraving. 

xTool D1 Settings for Wood Engraving

For the ease of users, xTool has published accurate settings for engraving different types of wood. In addition, the settings for raster engraving and vector engraving are also mentioned.

By looking at the table below, users can adjust the power, speed, and number of passes according to the wood type and thickness. There are separate settings for different laser modules.

Conclusion

Wood laser engraving is a whole lot of fun and an excellent idea to express creativity or start a small business. But before you start wood laser engraving, it is a must to understand it from every aspect. It will help you in selecting the right wood and engraving in the correct way. We have discussed almost every aspect of wood laser engraving in detail.

Beginners now have an idea of wood engraving, how they can do it, dos and don'ts, and various other valuable pieces of information. Beginners can use xTool D1 to engrave wood with extra precision and without any hassle. The machine is ideal for beginners to start wood laser engraving and turn it into a profitable business.

More questions? Join our Facebook Group to get inspired!

RECENT POST

TAGS