Contrast enhancer for wood engraves

Has anyone seen a “thermark for wood”, or otherwise stumbled onto one? Something you can apply to wood to make the engraves darker? Is there a type of finish that would achieve this?

I’m half tempted to try a sugar-based solution (as I think it’d burn really dark), but the water would make the wood fibers get all swollen, and that’s bad news. A uniform coating of sugar powder is a terrible idea, air assist would be a catastrophe.

A google search yielded the following of interest:
(Paulownia wood. Anyone tried yet? @mhumphrey ?)

A guide to how different wood types engrave. No telling how expensive or rare these are.

1 Like

I have not. Have you seen the laserable laminates?


What are you trying to accomplish? What type of engrave?

An antique map that is black and white line art. Ideally, the map could be burned shallow to avoid smoke marks, but still be quite dark.

I suppose I could prefinish the wood and use the alcohol-based resin tint trick that’s out there, but I’m trying to reduce my required steps.

Resin tint trick:

In theory, if you engrave unfinished wood, and then stain afterward, wiping the excess away fairly quickly, it should gather in the engraved areas and make it darker.

1 Like

Hmm, OK. I was thinking applying something after engrave and while that would work it would add more work. You can also mask the wood so that you don’t have to deal with smoke but that again would add the weeding.

How about two or three lower power passes?

Or depending on the look you are going for I like the white chalkboard for contrast and the smoke wipes right off of it.

this is exactly what i was thinking. yes, it’s more work, but using something like a black ink before weeding would give you a darker look to the engrave.

i did something vaguely similar using red ink over an engrave, you can see how well the red ink took to the engraved area. i imagine a black ink would really darken it without changing the texture any (the way using, say, acrylic paint might).

Left and right below are plain engrave and engrave with red ink (i can grab the brand name later when i get home, if you want).


That’s what I did with my laser safety sign and acrylic paint.

Now I want some mezcal.

Maximo should hit the shelves in DC by late January. Eventually heading to other states, but DC has the easiest liquor laws to navigate and you can be your own distributor (which means we eliminate one more middle man and pocket that much more profit per bottle).

FWIW on the engraving contrast, this is one place where you may want to experiment with reducing the speed (and also reducing power somewhat). You get more char (for a given power level) the longer the beam sits on the same place. So if the wood is capable of being blackened, a nice slow low-power zap might do it.

1 Like

I use a spray or two of Minwax Polyshades applied to the Engrave before weeding the masking. Since it’s a spray it’s fast and it will also seal the raw wood.


Are you using any ink in particular, or just regular old art pen ink?

i used liquitex ink (napthol crimson, in particular).


There’s actually a product called Lazerdark designed for just this. It’s suppose to have and advantage over spray paint becasue it’s fast drying and doesn’t bleed into the surrounding fibers as much. I don;t know if it’s really worth the price, but the results are nice.