Laser Wood Engraving

Laser engraving, an increasingly popular technique for etching designs into various materials, offers a wide range of possibilities when applied to wood. This technology provides precision and consistency that traditional methods struggle to match. The information on this page gives an overview, touching on the process of laser wood engraving, discussing how it works, the effect of different wood types, and tips for effective engraving.

Interactions between Lasers and Wood

When the laser beam interacts with the wood, the intense heat vaporizes the surface, creating a recess. This process results in the characteristic brown color of laser engravings on wood, caused by the burning of the material. The depth and color of the engraving can be controlled by adjusting the laser’s power and speed.

One important aspect to consider in laser wood engraving is the smoke produced during the process. This smoke can dirty the surface and potentially interfere with the laser’s path. To mitigate this, an air assist, which blows a stream of air across the engraving area, is often used to clear away smoke and debris.

Effects of Different Wood Types on Engraving

The type of wood plays a crucial role in the engraving process, as different woods have different reactions to the laser. Some of the factors influenced by the type of wood include:

  • Engraving Color: The natural color of the wood and its reaction to heat will affect the color of the engraving. Lighter woods typically result in higher contrast engravings, while darker woods can produce lower contrast.
  • Engraving Depth: Hardwoods like oak or walnut require more laser power to engrave than softer woods like pine or cedar. However, softer woods may engrave less evenly due to their less consistent density.
  • Grain Effect: The grain of the wood can affect the appearance of the engraving. In woods with a prominent grain, the engraving may appear uneven, as the laser will engrave deeper in softer, less dense areas.

Tips for Effective Laser Wood Engraving

  • Material Preparation: Make sure the wood surface is clean and flat. Any dust or debris can interfere with the laser beam, and uneven surfaces can result in inconsistent engraving depth.
  • Use the Right Settings: Different woods will require different laser settings. Test on a scrap piece of the same wood to determine the optimal power and speed settings.
  • Consider the Grain: If the wood grain is prominent, orient your design to work with the grain rather than against it. This can help to minimize the impact of the grain on the final result.
  • Use Air Assist: Use an air assist to keep the engraving area clear of smoke and debris. This will help to ensure a clean and clear engraving.


Wood is an attractive material to laser cut or engrave due to good surface discoloration as well as the increased depth compared to other materials. Grayscale images and photos look beautiful when etched into most hard or soft wood surfaces.

Boss Laser machines are ideally suited for laser engraving or cutting wood. Lasers offer the woodworking, and interior design industry greater precision, creativity, and efficiency with their custom design wood creatives. Whether you want to etch a wedding photo or engrave a custom award plaque you’re limited only to your imagination.


  • balsa wood
  • maple wood
  • cherry wood
  • poplar
  • hickory
  • red oak
  • Veneer
  • cedar wood
  • beech wood
  • medium density fiberboard (MDF)
  • exotic hard or solid woods
  • natural wood
  • alder wood
  • plywood
  • coated masonite

The good news is that unlike CNC machines that necessitate programming knowledge, laser machines allow you to design and print with almost any number of graphics software on the market such as CorelDraw or AutoCad.


Softer wood types such as balsa wood require a lower laser power and can in turn be cut at higher speeds. Whereas dense, hard woods will require more power. Generally speaking, CO2 lasers of 50 watts are capable of cleanly laser cutting thru 1/4″ wood in a single pass and up to 3/4″+ with 150 watts.

Contact Us if you would like to receive laser engraved wood samples or you would like more information about Boss Laser machines.



Get The Latest