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Laser Engraving & Cutting

A guide to PPLD's laser engravers/cutters

Working with Wood

Wood is one of the easiest and most versatile materials to work with, giving very sharp detail.

Important Safety Information

There are many different types of wood, and they all have different degrees of hardness. The softer the wood, the higher the chance of it catching fire. Lower power levels should be used on softer wood.

Tips on Engraving Wood

  • Light wood is generally preferable as it makes the designs more pronounced due to the fact that the laser is burning the wood at the point of engraving.
  • Denser wood does not react as strongly to the laser and will not darken as much or engrave as deeply as lighter woods.
  • Finished and stained woods can be used, but if possible, treat wood after it has been engraved.
    • If treated wood is used, it often requires higher power and more passes as the laser first has to go through the protective layer and then into the wood itself. Additionally, engraving treated wood removes the protective layer created by the treatment.
    • Light stains often enhance an engraving as they bring out the contrast between the engraved and non-engraved sections of the wood.
  • Grains and knots in the wood are denser parts and will not react to the laser as strongly. These tend to become more and more pronounced as multiple passes are run. This may enhance some projects, however if it is not desirable, use woods with fewer grains.
  • Dampening the wood can significantly reduce scorching. Use either a spray bottle or damp rag to dampen the top of the wood (do not soak the wood). Note that water must be applied outside of the laser cutter.

Tips on Cutting Wood

  • Thicker wood may not be cuttable on the laser. For pieces over a quarter of an inch (1/4") deep, consider using the CNC at Library 21c instead.
    • Note that the CNC requires separate badging and has a unique set of abilities, limitations, and policies. Please see a makerspace staff member for more information.
  • Sanding the edges of the wood after cutting can remove a lot of the scorching created by the laser. Library 21c and Sand Creek Library have Dremels that can be used for this as well.