How to Laser Engrave Wood Gifts

Written by elyse james
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How to Laser Engrave Wood Gifts
Light-coloured wood like oak and maple produce nice contrast when engraved. (Asterisk in Oak image by Gary Chorpenning from

Wood is one of the easiest types of materials to engrave. Wood produces a large contrast which makes it a very appealing medium for engraving. Depending on the wooden gift you are trying to engrave, you will have to use different settings based on the wood's density and colour. The most common woods for engraving are oak, cherry, walnut, maple and alder.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Set up the printer software that was provided with your laser engraver. Follow the onscreen directions to install any required programs. There are a variety of laser engravers available on the market. If you are only going to be creating a few engraved projects, it will be much cheaper to have your projects done by a professional. If you plan to do several engraving projects you should choose an engraver that is compatible with your current computer system and will suit the types of gifts you plan to engrave.

  2. 2

    Create an image you wish to engrave onto your piece of wood. Custom images can be created in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, or other such graphics programs. You can also engrave using existing JPEG images. Since wood is one of the best mediums to engrave on, all image formats with a high-quality resolution will transfer effectively. Obviously, the quality the digital image will affect how the engraving turns out.

  3. 3

    Turn on the power for your engraver machine and wait until you see or hear an indication that the machine has been initialised. This could be in the form of a blinking light or a "beep" sound. When the machine is initialised, turn on the exhaust.

  4. 4

    Place the wood you want to engrave onto the lower left hand corner of the engraver's table. It is always best to do a trial run on a scrap piece of wood.

  5. 5

    Open your image in an image editor (where you created and saved the image) and click "File" and "Print." Image editors are not included in the engraver software and must be installed separately. Make sure your printer is set to the engraver. Click "Properties" to make further adjustments. Your engraver might have special settings already saved depending on the type of material being engraved. If there is a special setting for "wood," select this option before proceeding.

  6. 6

    Click "Print" to send the page to the engraver to begin the engraving process.

Tips and warnings

  • Never let the laser system operate unattended.
  • Area around the machine should be clean and free of clutter, combustible
  • materials, explosives, or volatile solvents such as acetone, alcohol, or gasoline.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Use air curtain when vector cutting.
  • Many materials have the potential to burst suddenly into flames. Always monitor the machine when it is operating.
  • Keep engraver clean: A build up of cutting and engraving reside and debris can create a fire hazard.

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