Any suggestions for working with hickory?

So… I’m going to attempt to do an engrave on an axe handle as part of a secret Santa gift. I’ve got all the measurements squared away for engraving without the tray, and have all my alignment sorted out (I think), but realized I have no idea where to start settings wise. Would I be completely off-base with the setting from one of the PG hardwoods? Being as I’ve only got one axe-handle to work with, there’s not really room for much experimentation.

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I have not received my machine yet, but I can tell you hickory is a very dense and hard wood. Guessing I would start out a little north of what you would use for Oak.

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And keep in mind that if you don’t move it, you can come back with a second pass if the first one isn’t quite deep enough.


And of course you can do an arbitrary number of passes by making several copies of your source image and staking them up in you vector program prior to sending to the GF. I did a single action 9 pass cut in ipe wood by stacking three circles in Inkscape and setting them to cut in 3 passes. 3 passes, 3 layers, 9 total.

Also as many have pointed out: fast speeds yield lighter colors for the same depth engrave. Slower laser speed lets the heat char/carmelize more, and you get higher contrasts.

Beware wild guesses incoming — Definitely test on a scrap hardwood but I’d start at something like 1000/25 for fast and 200/10 for slow, maybe 200/5. It’s a handle so you probably aren’t going for depth, it’d be rough on the hands.

Slow will likely give you more color, as will extra LPI.

Home Depot had solid wood hickory flooring samples (free) that I tested. These might work as a sample to practice on for you.

It engraved really nicely for the darker areas of the image I tested, the lighter areas looked untouched to where the image was effectively monotone. I don’t think I saved the settings unfortunately, but they would have been based on the dark engrave for hardwood.

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It is going to take some ‘creative’ maneuvering to get an axe handle in there, but a hatchet handle would fit nicely.


Well, axe was a bit of a misnomer, it is a hatchet, but used for axe-throwing, so…

And for the record, I’m fairly happy with the engrave. I tried 200/7 at 340 LPI at first, and found it wasn’t very deep, so I did a second pass. While it had a nice dark colour afterwards, once I gave it any semblance of a clean it all wiped away - not the end of the world, but it means I’m going to try and add some colour to the engrave which I ideally would have done while the masking was still on.

The only real issue I have is that towards the one end of the engraving there’s some noticeable striations in the engrave. I’m thinking it might be because it was at the edge closest to where the handle curves, although it didn’t seem that drastic.

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Yeah, I found the degree of burn to be a patina, and usually leave it.
If the handle has any kind of a sealing on it, you should be able to just hit it with some spray paint and wipe off the overspray.

Just an FYI. Many time Hickory and Pecan are mixed because they are very similar in grain and color and workability.