Wood is a natural material that we use for so many different purposes depending on our needs. Before ordering the wood for processing, it is really important to know its density and resin content, so today we will help you understand which wood is the best for the engravings so that you can get the best possible results out of it.
Rule of Thumb:
Before we get into details, it is really important to know the following rule; the more reliable is the grain and colouring of the wood is, the better results you will get from the laser engraving.
Understanding the Different Types of Wood
The soft type of wood like poplar or balsa requires a lower level of laser power and therefore it can be cut and engraved at a much faster speed. These types of engraving results in less contrast and they are usually lighter.
Wood types like cherry or oak needs to be cut and engraved with a higher level of laser power, so engraving on this type will result in more contrast than the engraving on the soft types.
Fir or larch gets under the coniferous wood type and they are not suitable for engraving because they have a huge amount of uneven grains. Because of these uneven grains, it is hard to create the correct settings for the engraving.
Since we get the veneer from the real wood, the engraving properties for this type of wood are similar to the ones for the hardwood types.
Last but not least, on our list is plywood, it consists of a minimum of three layers of wood. Its grains are glued and pressed together at 90 degrees angle. This type comes in different thickness levels and various classes of wood. Before the laser processing, especially during the cutting, it is really important to use the right kind of glue. Prefer using the white-glued plywood boards that are made for the laser processing.
Planning the Engraving Parameters
It is really easy to figure out fast your wanted engraving settings just by using the grayscale matrix.
You can test your settings easily just by drawing a rectangle with two differently shaped corners and then just send the image on to your laser. If you have 1/8" thick wood, you should start with the high-power laser level and speed in between 2-5%. Shortly after that, you can start lowering the speed in order to get your desired cutting quality.
TIP: If your lens is unfocused, your engraving will be darker, depending on how big the unfocused parameter was. The laser spot size enlarges and decreases the performance density once the laser beam is unfocused and it will burn more wood instead of making it quickly turn into gas. The big downside of this is losing some of the details on your engraving.
Make sure that the sticky dust formed by the laser processing wood does not stick on to the object that you are engraving. To prevent this from happening you should always use the application tape on the work surface. This tape will serve you like short-term protection and it won't affect the engraving process.
Once the laser process is finished, you can easily remove the application tape; its usage is really good if you have to engrave or cut larger areas. But since a large number of tiny parts have to be removed later, it is not that suitable for the photo-engravings.
TIP: If you decide to get yourself the application tape, make sure that you buy the PVC-free, removable material.
Once the engraving process is completed, in order to get the best possible result out of it, you should have your board oiled. This procedure is a great way to highlight your brand, image or name.
TIP: To make sure that the boards remain food-safe, it is always best to oil your board after the engraving process.