Wood is a material known to everybody, and there are so many things made out of it being engraved: toys, souvenirs, even decorative boards for cheese. On a chair you sit on, there might be an engraving with the serial number. So, how and with what kind of equipment can these images and inscriptions be done?

Today we’ll get to the bottom of this case: wood engraving by the laser CO2 machine.

Where wood laser engraving being used?

Aesthetically pleasing and ecological. And what a smell! Because of all this wood is used in a lot of different spheres:

  • Elements of engraving can be found on furniture: an ornament or deep engraving of the eagle on the top of a table, covered under the glass;
  • Toys, bijoutier, caskets, pins, and trinkets;
  • Engraving is used in branding: signs, nameboards, special cup holders, logos, ets.;
  • It can come in handy during the models’ creation, both for game and professional assembling;
  • By using laser cutting and engraving, handcraft and art craftsmen create their objects d’art.

There are way more ways to apply the engraving, from the manufacturing necessarily to the artistic instrument.

Wood engraving methods

Besides the laser machine, there are two more types of equipment we’ll talk about. Milling machine and woodburning tool. Both allow you to make 3D images on the surface, but the methods differ from one another.

Closest to the engraving process would be woodburning, since we’re dealing with the material’s evaporation in that case as well. Woodburning, or pyrography, to be more accurate, as it’s clear from the name itself, is more of an art implement than a production technique. A laser machine is first and foremost an instrument for the officiant business running. But if you’re interested in the engraving, in which the imprint of a human excursion can be seen, then woodburning might captivate you.

By using the method of mechanical impact, the milling machine distinguishes itself from others, but it’s close to the CO2 lasers in terms of repeatability of work and automated process. The biggest difference is contained in precision and waste products. During the work, dust and shavings are formed. Though the chance of inflammation is equal to zero! Clean engraving of the wood color itself — that’s what a milling machine is able to produce. But the work’s accuracy in the smallest details might decrease in comparison to CO2.

The choice between a milling machine and a laser machine is based on the type of product you want to receive in the end. The form and the size define: for example, doors better be produced on a milling machine; souvenirs — by CO2.

In our previous articles, we discussed milling machines suitable for professional woodworking and home usage.

Material and settings for wood engraving

Every time we start a conversation about new material, we use one significant phrase: ideal parameters do not exist. Seemingly identical materials can slightly differ depending on the manufacturer or consignment. That’s why the laser machine’s calibration is going to be floating.

But we’ll try to give you reference points to start from to help your machine work most efficiently with your type of wood.

But firstly, let’s talk about wood types and products that can be made out of them by CO2.

Let’s choose some wood

  1. Natural. Thick and solid, it allows you to gain clean lines or make a deep engraving. Wood from deciduous trees would be suitable for engraving the best: oak, maple, cherry, and some others.
  2. Plywood. Artificial material with a plain, straight surface. One of the most common in usage for souvenir production.
  3. Medium-density fiberboard, HDF. Materials with an almost ideally homogeneous structure. That makes them very convenient for laser work.
  4. Cork. The lightest weighted among all. For example, from it are made cup holders or beer mats. A very contrasty and technicolor engraving can be made on this material.
  5. High-density wood chipboard. It’s frequently used in furniture manufacturing and home decorating.

Material preparation

First of all, check the material’s quality. Look to see if there are any knots or other little defects in the workpiece. If your plywood, for example, is thin, then it might become wavy during the engraving due to the heat impact. You can fixate it with neodymium magnets.

The next step is sanding the wood. If the surface is uneven, you better fix it so the laser equipment will work without any nuances.

Layout preparation

This is a very important stage during the work with any material on any machine. Mistakes in the layout mean additional expenses, both monetary and time. So let’s go through some details, which you have to check before sending in your workpiece.

  1. Make sure that all of the lines in the layout are closed.
  2. Check for double, superimposed lines. They should be deleted. For the machine, those mean a double route, which can result in burned pieces or prolonged working time. Only single lines should be present.
  3. The thickness of the lines. There is no need to make them thicker if you want a wider engraving. In that case, choose the specific fragment and transform it into an object. Then you’ll achieve the desired result.
  4. The order of cutting. Firstly, you need to engrave the workpiece. Only then it should be cutted. Check it to be in that way.


It has a direct effect on the contrast level of the engraving. If the airflow is too strong, then the image will be faint. If the airflow is low, then we might get a hard charring.


The laser works by heating and evaporating the material, and to control the process of wood engraving so it wouldn’t burn, you need to watch this parameter carefully. Carbon deposit might look aesthetic when it’s part of the idea, but most of the time it appears unplanned due to mistakes.

More power — more blackness. That’s why engraving is usually done with a low number of Watts involved. And inside that span, the level of contrast is regulated.

This and airflow are linked in that matter, so you can play around with them to find pleasing color results.

For example, if you have no airflow but the power is set at 15% from a 100W tube, then the image will come out quite dull. If we raise the percentage of power to 30, then we’ll get heavy carbon deposits. If we increase airflow by 0.03 atm., then the image is going to be bright and without any black stains.

Engraving step

The precision and smoothness of the image’s lines are dependent on this parameter.

What is it, the engraving step? That’s the amount of space on which the portal moves in the Y-axes during the engraving process.

Let’s examine the effect of different numbers on the result.

When you set the engraving step to 0,2, the image comes out with jagged edges. If the step is 0,1 — it appears to be more flowing. And the 0,05 step produces the most fluent and smooth image. It’s the best for very detailed pictures.

The smaller the step, the more time is required for the engraving itself. The same image with the different steps can be processed in 30 seconds, 1 minute, or even 3 minutes. Here’s where the choice appears between quality and time, which you are ready to spend on manufacturing the single good. Or you can try to find the golden mean!

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What else is important to say about this parameter? If the diameter of a laser beam is smaller than an engraving step, you might get ribbing and an uneven surface for the engraving. So, pay attention to that.

Generally, the engraving step is quite a particular question. For some of the pictures where pixel imitation is required, a wide step might serve well. For the roof tile imitation, the step of 0,4 is perfect.

To gain the diagonal ruling, you can just turn the workpiece at the needed angle. Sometimes the engraving can be processed in two rows. There’re a lot of different ways to work with this, and each engineer usually has their own life hacks and tricks.

Anyway, everything depends on the result you desire. Darker, lighter? Or, maybe, you require some carbon deposits for decorative needs? That’s the reason why we can’t tell you the ideal settings.

Laser engraver for wood 

Since the engraving is processed with a small power percentage and the result depends on the size of the laser beam, it is considered that for this type of work, laser tubes with a lover power are suitable. Because of this, the choice is based mostly on it.

Wattsan offers you some engraving models.

Work area 500 x 300 mm
Tube power 60 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1040x650x575 mm

For small layouts and goods, use 0503. This model may be placed at home or in the workhouse; it won’t take up a lot of space. Effective and convenient wood engraving machine for small production.

Here is installed a 60-watt laser tube, which will help to do high-quality engraving. This model can cut wood and plywood up to 5–6 mm thick.

 The majority of small and medium-format works may suit two models, which are the most popular among our laser CO2 equipment.

Work area 600 x 400 mm
Tube power 80-90 W
Max engraving speed 500 mm
Dimensions 1165x765x600 mm
Mini laser cutting and engraving machine

6040 — this is a table-top machine with a 90–100W laser tube.

Work area 900 x 600 mm
Tube power 80-90 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1030x1490x670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
laser cutter engraver wattsan

6090 — a bigger model with the same tube. This machine is built to deal with serial production.

For bigger projects, you would need a bigger space. That’s where the 1290 machine comes in to help. The tube here is for 130W. Besides engraving, you will be able to cut wood up to 10–13 mm. Wattsan 1290 is a machine for serious manufacture.

Work area 1200 x 900 mm
Tube power 100-120 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1790x1410x670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
laser engraving machine

Equipment with a larger size is not recommended. Only in the case of excluded necessity when working with huge workpieces. But you can try to use the mentioned machines and their function “through table”.

An Lee
We are happy to advice you from the very beginning
Contact us now.
Make a request


  1. There are various methods of making engravings on the wood: milling and laser machines, or woodburning. The choice depends on your goals. For the artistic needs of your soul, you may use the last one, for production — professional equipment.
  2. Wood has to be prepared before usage. Sanding and leveling might be required. Also, you have to check the layout for not-closed, double, or thick lines.
  3. Ideal and static parameters for engraving do not exist.
  4. Pay attention to airblow and power percentage. Their ratio will affect the result.
  5. The engraving step regulates the smoothness of your image. It also allows imitations of different materials and can be used as an artistic tool. 
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