< Academy

What can we achieve with Laser Engraving on Wood

What can we achieve with Laser Engraving on Wood

Laser engraving is a suitable and functional technique for creating permanent impressions on various materials, including fabrics, acrylics, wood, natural stones, metals, etc. From the engraving of company logos to the creation of personalized gifts, there are many things that can be imagined and put into practice with a laser machine.

Wood is a particularly popular material for its versatility and wide availability. It does not matter that it can be a bit difficult to work with since with the laser everything becomes easier and it is possible to easily engrave both soft, hard or varnished woods to create handicrafts, souvenirs, plates, furnishing accessories, toys and much more.

How does laser engraving work on wood

So how do you laser engrave wood? Well, laser engravings on wood take place more or less like with other materials: a laser beam is passed on the material by heating it and vaporizing it.

The result is a smooth, clean and perfect engraving that cannot be imitated by other woodworking equipment. The main difference between laser engraving on wood and other materials is that in wood it is usually a process of sublimation.

This means that when the laser beam is passed over the material, it is converted directly by combustion from a solid state to a gaseous state. The process occasionally creates very normal smoke in the processing area during laser engraving.

Since wood is a natural element, it has a lot of imperfections that can be problematic during engraving; it is also necessary to take into account the density and resin content of the chosen wood.

Laser engraving machine on wood

Engraving settings and types

Luckily, once you accumulate a bit of experience and adjust the settings of the laser wood machine appropriately, in terms of power and speed according to the different types of wood, the result will always be perfect engravings.

Being a fairly malleable material, not only is it easy to carry out laser engraving and cutting of wood, but it is possible to work with many varieties, shapes and sizes.

For best results, the lens must be properly focused. In terms of color, the most common laser engraving on wood is brown, but it is also possible to obtain a white engraving compared to the usual brownish color simply by setting the laser, consequently, with very low power and high speed.

On the contrary, if you want to obtain a laser engraving on very dark wood, just set the beam out of focus (between 0.5 and 2 mm), in doing so the laser will have a wider trace and a lower power density. The result is always extremely elegant and represents a real "work of art" of laser printing on wood.

The settings of the wood laser engraver and the type of wood used determine the result of the project. We will see later the other important factors to consider when engraving on wood.

Close Up Laser Machine - Laser Engraving and Cutting on Wood

How to choose the most suitable wood

The type of wood you intend to cut is of the utmost importance when working with the laser. For example, a bamboo cutting board cannot be engraved in the same way as an oak barrel.

Ideally, soft woods such as sequoia, western red cedar, southern yellow pine and balsa do not require high laser power to engrave and can be processed more quickly, thus producing clearer engravings.

The other side of the coin is represented by high density hardwoods such as Brazilian ebony and snakewood which require greater laser power for cutting and engraving, which results in dark engravings. Ultimately, the type of wood used will affect the final result.

Most CO2 lasers can handle the engraving processes of different types of wood such as plywood, chipboard, cork, teak, solid wood, cherry, maple and oak. Depending on the type of wood, one wood laser cutting machine is also able to cut an element with a thickness of up to 20 mm.

In addition to the type of wood, it is also important to consider the resin content. The color of the laser marking on wood will be lighter or darker depending on this factor.

When the resin content is low, the laser beam vaporizes the wood and leaves a minimal burn. If the resin content is high, the laser beam will consume the resin and dig deeper into the wood causing a darker burn.

Cherry and alder are two varieties of wood with a high resin content. Both are excellent for engraving projects, however cherry tends to have a high level of streaking which, as we'll see below, isn't an ideal feature.

Laser Engraving on Wood - Laser Machine at work

Other aspects to consider for laser engraving on wood

In addition to the type of wood and its resin content, there are other equally important factors that are worth mentioning for laser engraving:

Engaving parameters

As seen above, if you want a darker engraving on wood, you can increase the blur of the laser beam even if in this way you lose some details at the engraving level.

Preparation of the material

To avoid the formation of a lump of sticky dust on the engraved object (which can easily cause the machine to malfunction), an application tape can be glued on the work surface which will act as a temporary protective layer. Once you have finished engraving, simply remove the tape and clean the object. Application tape is ideal when it comes to engraving large surfaces.

Use the right optics

Choosing the correct optics combined with precise focusing is essential for the correct sublimation process. The rule of thumb is to use a shorter focal length on the lens to get finer details. A 1.5 to 2.0 inch lens will be perfect for most wood engraving tasks. The thicker the wood, the longer the focal length of the lens should be.

Compressed air

Compressed air is highly recommended when it is realized on a wood laser cutting because it instantly removes gas and dust and improves laser cutting quality.

Cleaning

Cleaning the laser hardware and optics has a direct impact on the functionality of the laser machine. Wood dust is loaded with oils and resins which make it very sticky and when it settles on the machine, it won't be long before it stops working properly. It is therefore necessary to regularly clean the laser engraver for wood.

Streaks

Streaks may be lovely in zebras, but they are not lovely in wood for laser engraving, as they take the focus away from processing, so it is recommended to choose wood with minimal streaks and a smooth, even grain that has alternating nominal streaks dark and light. Any engraving made on this type of wood appears detailed and lighter than one made on a wood with a high level of streaks.

Wood color

It is best to work with lighter wood. In general, dark wood makes it rather difficult to see or recognize the engravings while lighter wood develops an attractive dark burn with an optimal level of visibility.

For further information on Laser Applications on other light materials:

Marking, Engraving and Laser Cutting on Glass

Laser engraving on stone, marble and granite

Laser engraving and marking on plastic

Marking and Laser Engraving on Steel

Handmade and laser engraved wooden bow tie

What can be created with laser engraving on wood?

Wood is the perfect material for laser engraving of personalized gift items. Through laser engraving technology, it is possible to create unique pieces by engraving names, logos, images and designs on wooden products.

These pieces may include:

  • jewelry box,
  • cutting boards,
  • keychain,
  • inlays for wardrobes,
  • plaques,
  • cigar boxes,
  • musical instruments,
  • skateboards and much more.

Laser engraving of wood is therefore increasingly in demand because it increases the value of objects, as well as guaranteeing extraordinarily impressive results and being relatively easy to make.

Laser engraving of wood is therefore increasingly in demand because it increases the value of objects, as well as guaranteeing extraordinarily impressive results and being relatively easy to make.

< Back