Basswood warped after engraving

Hi. I am doing an inlay based on a design I saw somewhere. A day after I did the engrave on the medium Basswood hardwood, I notice it’s bowed. It won’t lie flat. I need it to be flat. Any advice?


You may be able to put it under gentle pressure to get it flat, or carefully glue it to some kind of backing. Warping is always going to be a risk with big engraves, because whatever locked-in stresses the wood had before engraving will no longer be in balance – you just removed a bunch of the material that was doing the balancing.

In this case, your situation may be complicated by the fact that the inlay grain goes the other way – wood expands or contracts much less along the grain than across it, so the inlay is going to do its best to keep the front face stable even as the back face tries to shrink or swell. (In fancy furniture-making, woodworkers are sometimes advising to put the same veneer on the front and back faces of a panel to avoid warping.)


You can try what I do with small engraves.

Put a light spray mist of alcohol on the warped side.
Lay it on a paper towel with another board and weight on top of it.
Examine in morning. Should be straighter.

I only had one that needed a second persuasion. This occurs a lot after a heavy cleaning thin woods with 3d engrave resins.

It is probably too tight a press fit on the inlay insertion. So not sure just removing the warp will work. I saw this once with an acrylic/inlays and heated the design to get it flat. Problem then was all the inlays got loose.

Yours is wood. I would try that flatten technique and see if it helps at all. (maybe an alcohol spray on the front as well as back, to soften the grain and maybe allow it to give//stretch//compress some).


I’ll give that a try. Do I have to spray it? Can I wipe on alcohol? Thanks.

I have a small sprayer for this so yes.
I imagine you could wipe it but a light misting is easy with a small sprayer.

All you are doing is giving the grain a little bit of flex, so as to shift a little without damaging the organics.

1 Like

I have found that while wet wood will warp, wet wood clamped and dried while clamped will be that shape no matter if clamped curved or flat.

1 Like

Do you live in a high humidity area? I’ve found that hardwood is only a good option for smaller projects, as it warps even just sitting on the shelf for me. Even my other medium proofgrade warps if it doesn’t have weight on it, or if I leave it leaning against something. As for a solution, what others have said here is also what I what recommend. If you introduce water, it may take a bit longer for it to maintain it’s shape since the grain will retain it longer than alcohol, and because if you have it being weighed down against something it’s harder for the water to escape and evaporate. If you do love in a high humidity area, I would definitely go with the alcohol, though.


Soaking it and clamping it flat will probably fix it, though it’s a little dicey for the smaller details.

Another option might redoing it in plywood. It can still warp, but usually not as much as solid wood

I had no such problem with these…


It’s been a little while since I’ve seen any replies on this thread so I’m going to close it. If you still need help with this please either start a new thread or email