what wood can you laser engrave

What Wood Can You Laser Engrave?

Are you wondering which type of wood can be laser engraved? there’s nothing worse than being ready to take on a project to only find yourself with wood that won’t give you the best results when it comes to engravings. Anyways, below’s the answer!

What Wood Can You Laser Engrave? Adler, Plywood, Douglas Fir, Cork and Balsa are among the several different woods that can be laser engraved. Any wood that is lightweight and does not get streaked easily is ideal for laser engraving. Resin content will determine the lightness or darkness of the finished laser engraved piece.

Below, I will explain how to select the best possible type of wood for your laser engraving project in-depth and go over many different species and types of wood that are great options for laser engraving.

How to Pick the Best Type of Wood for Laser Engraving

If you want to use wood as your main material for laser engraving, or you simply want to experiment with laser engraved wood products, then remember to keep the tips below in mind as you determine the best wood for laser engraving.

Determine the Resin Content

Depending on the sap or resin content, wood will burn darker or lighter. Choose wood that has a high resin content such as Alder or Cherry wood if you desire a darker burn.

You should go for wood with a lower resin content if you want to leave a minimal burn for a specific application. A smart way to figure out the resin content of wood without disposing of any valuable materials is to use a wood laser engraving machine to engrave the logo of your business in a place that will not affect the total personalization of your creation or product.

This clever test will not only allow you to brand your product. It will also allow you to figure out the lightness or darkness of a burn as well.

Find a Lighter Wood

The main, or base, color of a laser-etched wooden product does not change, unlike paper. Paper’s color can easily be manipulated. The base color will always be very similar to the color of the wood.

It is critical to take into consideration the color of wood because dark wood typically has laser etching marks that are obscured. This makes engraved text or photos hard to recognize or visualize.

In contrast, lighter wood develops a deep and dark burn when etched. This will result in well-defined marks for top-notch visibility.

Choose Wood That Handles Streaking Well

Streaks on wood look nice on furniture but can become a distraction for engraved photos. Wood streaking will usually take away the engraving of any detail.

When looking around for wood that is ideal for laser engraving, choose the species or type of wood that will result in minimal streaks and a consistent, smooth grain.

Pick The Best Species of Wood

There is a wide variety of wood species that can be laser engraved. Some wood species are more suitable than others for laser engravings.

If you are just beginning your wood engraving hobby or career, then I recommend that you start with one of the species of wood listed below because they produce excellent results and are not difficult to work with.

  • Maple: Maple will streak lightly, and it burns dark the majority of the time. It is light in color, and it is a great wood for engraving photos.
  • Alder: Adler has a supple texture, a light color, and minimal streaking too. It passes all the tests for laser engraving. Alder is considered the top pick for laser engraving projects.
  • Cherry: Cherry is still a great pick for many laser etching projects even though it has relatively high levels of streaking. Blonde cherry wood is usually light in color and has a high resin content.

Wood Types That Are Suitable for Laser Engraving

There are many different types of wood that can be laser engraved. It is important to know which type of wood is best for your project.

Below, are some examples of wood types that are great options for laser processing.

  • MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard): Medium-density fiberboard is an engineered wood product that is manufactured by chopping down softwood or hardwood residuals into wood fibers that are often in a defibrillator. The wood fibers are combined with a resin binder and wax which forms panels that high temperature and pressure is applied to. Medium-density fiberboard is typically denser than plywood.
  • HDF (High-Density Fiberboard) High-density fiberboard, or Hardboard, is a type of fiberboard that is a product of engineered wood. It is very similar to medium-density fiberboard and particleboard but is much stronger, denser, and harder because it is constructed out of exploded wood fibers that have been compressed highly.
  • Balsa: The midwest’s Balsa is kiln-dried to make a high strength-to-weight ratio and lightweight wood. It is grown in South American rain-forests and is easily cut with a hobby knife. It can be painted or stained and is a great wood for modelling.
  • Chipboard: Chipboard is an engineered wood product that is made from sawmill shavings, wood pulp, wood chips, or even sawdust. It is a synthetic resin or other fitting binder that has been extruded and pressed.
  • Cork: Cork is a buoyant, elastic, fire retardant, and impermeable material. It is utilized in a variety of products, but the most common cork product is wine stoppers. It is found in the phellem layer of bark tissue. Quercus suber (the cork oak) is a tree that is harvested for primarily for commercial use. It is found in northwest Africa and southwest Europe.
  • Veneers: Veneer in the world of woodworking refers to thin slices of wood and sometimes bark too. It is typically thinner than 3mm and is glued onto core panels to make flat panels such as tops, doors, and panels for parquet floors, cabinets, and other parts of furniture.
  • Plywood (Multiplex in Europe): Plywood is a material that is made from plies. Plies are thin layers of wood veneer that are stuck together with adjoining layers. Their wood grain is rotated up to 90 degrees to one another. It is an engineered wood from a group of manufactured boards that includes (particle board) and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
  • Natural Wood: Natural wood is wood that was grown naturally (as a tree) and was not treated chemically. Natural wood can include painting, chemical drying, pressure-treating, or any other type of man-made modification to the wood with the exception of simply cutting it and drying.

Final Words

I hope that you are closer to selecting a type or species of wood for your laser engraving project. Make sure you read through this article a couple of times if possible to make sure that you make the best possible selection.

Take into account the resin content, lightness, and how well the type or species of wood handles streaking.

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Hey, this is Brian and Gene Luoma. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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