Wood for laser engraving

I'm planning a project (wedding card box) that I will be having some laser engraving done.  I will be having this part done by someone who does projects for my local hardwood source.  I don't know much about lasers and want to select a wood type that will work best for engraving the name of the bride and groom.  My initial thoughts were cherry or white oak.  Looking for recommendations.  Thanks!

19 Replies

those should both work well barb. i used padauk on the last beerbq swap and it worked great.

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

I like the results on Cherry and Mahogany.    White or Red Oak both work well also.     


I would think a closed/tight grain like cherry or maple would give a sharper laser line. Some woods (like pine) with distinct early/late season growth rings can have different densities which can make for consistency issues. White oak may or may not have this issue.

I'll see if I can run a test today as I have plenty of WO and cherry scraps.
Is there a finely detailed design involved or just some lettering? Also would be good to know if there are largish areas that get filled (engraved).
Thanks for these suggestions.  I'm on my way to check out wood options.  Good excuse to buy some extras!
Based on what was available, I went with hard maple.  Pretty board that is about 10 inch wide.  Still working through my design, but thinking beveled corners with walnut splines, hinged lid that features some figured walnut,  and then their names on the front face.  Need to find some nice simple hardware to hold the top open during and then latch for later use as a memory box.  
I didn't have any maple, but ran some tests with cherry and white oak.

The white oak has the grain changes so softer areas burned deeper than the harder areas, leaving a striped appearance.

Test is freeform shape (butterfly) and letter outline, single laser beam width lines.
Two letter examples with the center filled.

There is about 1/64" depth here, blew out the soot with compressed air.

Cherry with the tighter grain did much better

These were both bare wood, sanded to 220.

An option is to use masking tape to cover the wood before burning, then fill the cuts with paint.

I've fill this with white, it'll be dry before too long and I'll post what came out.

Splintergroup - thank you for those test runs!!  I thought oak might be too "rough" or grainy.  The cherry example is nice. The place I went didn't have any cherry that had the right color and dimensions so I went with maple.  I think including walnut accents will be good.  Just found out another nephew got engaged, so who knows if I'll be building multiple!
Thanks for the examples as it is great information.
Maple should show up the engraving quite well. Have you cut hard maple before? It tends to burn like with cherry, but will make a great box!
Only a small project.  Hopefully the maple will behave for me.  Really nice board
Good stuff for cutting boards too! 
I did a little cutting board with maple previously. 
Some impervious stuff!

That is on the floor? I guess for the pups to help prepare the meal, a family that cooks together.... 🤠
🤣🤣🤣 My fancy photo backdrop where I didn't have shadows...the floor!  If only my two could help out with meal prep!!! 
They probably did, slicing up the sausage, but when you were late for dinner they returned the items to the fridge.
I didn't let the white paint dry enough for my last lettering test, made a mess.

So I just sprayed a piece of cherry with shellac and did a deeper engraving

Black is good, but let's try some paint. Had a can of "gold" so I sprayed and let this dry over night.

Could have used another coat. Now to re-sand, shellac kept the paint out of the cherry.

I like the first one best.  Interesting options though with different approaches.
Very interesting and opens up an entire new set of options.  

There are so many things to try.

Thanks SplinterGroup.
Great contribution and experimentation Splinter...

If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD