Cutting/Engraving on wood

When cutting wood or engraving wood does it show burn marks at all? Or is the engraving clean? I would imagine that it would be a function of how long the laser is hitting one position and the laser cutting strength at those points?


Welcome the the forum. That’s a great question. There will be some post printing work to deal with any char. A masking film helps to keep smoke damage and char on the surface to a minimum as far as I have read. Here’s a good thread.


The Glowforge is essentially like all 40W CO2 lasers. You do get charring on the outside edge of wood, especially plywood. You can also get smoke or burn marks on both the top and bottom surfaces. There are lots of procedures, a lot of trial and experience, to minimize these. You can often either mask the surfaces, and or clean much of the smoke damage. The edges would require sanding to remove the charring. You can see the dark edges on many of the pictures shown in this forum.

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You’ll find the same thing with engraving. There’s a distinctive look to laser cut and laser engraved wood; but like the previous posts say, you can mitigate a certain amount of char, both in preparation and in cleanup. There will be some trial and error to get the effect you like best.

I was just wondering. In a lot of cases, the burning would actually be a positive thing, since it makes the engraving easier to see. Otherwise you could sand or paint it.

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For hardwoods you can get a nice un-charred edge when cutting by tweaking power correctly. With cherry for example you’ll see a reddened edge when cut at the appropriate power. Too much power and too slow a cut will cause blackening. I’ve also pre-stained hardwoods which changes the edge look, sometimes significantly. And, while the “laser engraved” look is aesthetically nice, it’s not the only way to finish a piece. painting, staining, sanding, and color filling can all provide interesting finish options for cut pieces. You can create a piece in a laser start to finish, but a lot of the most interesting laser projects I’ve seen involve laser engraving and cutting as part of the process.