Wood is a great material for laser engraving beginners, both because it’s easy to work with and because the results are exceptional. Before you start, though, there are a few things you need to understand about wood and laser engraving.
Understand What Type of Wood You’re Working With
Different species of wood have different reactions to the engraving process. Therefore, before you start engraving, you should try to learn how to treat the species of wood you’re dealing with.
If you don’t, most of this information can be picked up visually. For instance, what color is the wood? Lighter trees often engrave better than dark ones, because this allows the darker engraving lines to show up more clearly.
You can also notice how much grain and streaking you have to work with. Grainier woods will make designs uneven and rough-looking, while streaks will distract from the content of your design. You can engrave grainy wood with streaks, but you need to compensate for these characteristics to keep your design clear and appealing.
Without knowing the species of wood, though, you won’t have an idea how much sap you’re dealing with. This is important, because the higher the resin/sap level of the wood, the darker your engraving lines will be. The sap essentially lets the engraving lines pop, exhibiting a sharp contrast between the wood and the lines.
Resin/Sap Content Makes a Big Difference
Unfortunately, some of this can’t be controlled. For instance, while different tree species have different amounts of sap, time is also an important factor. Trees cut down during the fall or winter seasons will have lower sap content in the upper portion of the tree, while trees cut down during the summer and spring seasons will have a more equally distributed sap level.
To confirm the sap levels before engraving, you may choose to engrave a small design away from your main one. Businesses often use their logos for this purpose.
Engineered Wood Allows for a Cleaner Finish
If you don’t like working with natural wood, which can be difficult to work with for the reasons outlined above, you may choose to go with plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). These wood composites are smoother, making for easier designs.
Interested in Wood Engraving?