Engrave Snakewood?

Hello! I overcommitted by saying yes to engraving a piece of wood I have never worked with. Any idea on the settings? The unfortunate part is that I only have one piece so its hit or miss :frowning: literally my worse nightmare.

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This thread has a reference to Snakewood, and deals with working out settings - it might help!

This spreadsheet might also be helpful:


As you’re engraving, whatever settings you choose start with the absolute lightest one (lowest power/highest speed) - that way if you don’t like the look without moving anything you can run another setting over it to deepen/darken it and it’ll engrave in the exact same place.


Thank you! I did see this post when searching but the Janka chart is very confusing and unfamiliar to me. I was hoping to get a little more clarity. I am going to try my best and cross my fingers.


Thank you so much!

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What the chart is actually trying to teach isn’t as important as finding a Proofgrade material that’s closest to the material you’re actually using.
So if Snakewood is 3800, the closest PG material would be Red Oak at 1220 - so WAY harder than any of the PG stuff (more than 3x harder)
So, start with running your design in the Red Oak setting - then if it’s too light, either run it again as is, or either lower the speed or raise the power by 10 points and run it again depending on how too light it is.

Warning I ran across while looking at this
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, snakewood has been reported as a skin and respiratory irritant.


This was extremely helpful, thank you so much.


Janka scale doesn’t really map to how dark an engrave will be, it’s really about what is in the material.

Take cork and balsa wood for example. Both very soft, but cork engraves jet black with the lightest laser power, whereas balsa is tough to get dark color at all.

Similar for maple versus walnut, very different colors at the same settings.

Janka might be useful for rough guesses on depth of engrave but as to color, testing is the only way to be sure.

Also inconsistent woods are a special class of challenge with engravings. You can see significant variation in the end result, like with spalted woods or even some ember problems like with @rbtdanforth and zebra wood.

All of this isn’t to say you shouldn’t try it, just that it may be tough to dial in. I’ll be curious to see your results.


I have some snakewood and it is really amazing though mine is too thick and I have not found a way to cut it into thin boards. However like so many other rare wood pieces I have I am a bit afraid to launch into them both to make the design live up to the wood and not to have a problem of execution. I would create a very small square (~1/4") and put it at the least important end and try a setting for Wenge as that is among the hardest and try to engrave that square.

Unfortunately, there is not much equality between species comparing cutting to hardness. Zebrawood is very hard and looks ideal but will catch fire very easily and so is very problematic.

(Snakewood | The Wood Database - Lumber Identification (Hardwood))

if you want a nearly black engrave on nearly anything… borax + water and thinly spread it on the substrate. Then engrave with a very low power setting (20 maybe). I have not done this myself (yet) but I have seen very interesting results from it engraving on wood. It’s almost like the results you see from the norton white tile method, but on other surfaces.


Snakewood would be a poor choice for that. Both too dark and too beautiful and expensive to treat like that.

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i agree. snakewood even gets darker as it ages. I have turned snakewood pens in the past.

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