Engraving Pine

For those of you who have attempted or succeeded in engraving on pine, what settings did you use? I have a simple logo (block letters) that I would like to engrave on a 2x4. I attempted a engrave the other night and the engraved area appeared very wavy and varying in light/darkness. Thanks.




It seems like with a lot of woods, grain matters, and you’re in for some challenges. Skimming through the search results I posted seems to indicate a good bit of info already out there.


Due to the varying densities within the wood, you’re going to end up with what you describe when using a 2x4.

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If your engrave isnt behaving, keep in mind you have the faster nuclear option of spraypaint Mask the surface, score it hard enough to cut away the mask, weed the voids, and spray.

Peel off the remaining masking once dry, and voila, solid colors and fairly little effort.


What spraypaint would you use?

I don’t have a brand preference… just that this method has worked for others, and has the added benefit of being far faster than engraving. You just barely cut the masking and peel it off in the voids, goes pretty quickly, from what I hear.

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Thanks Evan. I found another useful posting with specific settings - Sign on rough pine. Here are some photos of my attempts in order. The first was done with full power, full speed, and 200+ lpi. The second was 80 power, 450 speed, and 74 lpi. The last was 80 power, 450 speed, and 125 lpi. The file I used is not a vector file. Would converting it to a vector greatly enhance the quality (sharper edges)? Also, I am new and don’t know anything about scoring. How would that enhance the print or would it? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Those came out nicely! As for the jaggy edges, I am not sure how you built this, but if you took a raster small text and grew it really large… you’d get giant steps like that. I think it looks pretty cool, but if you wanted smoother text, yeah I would make it vector at full size, convert the text to paths, and then engrave that.

One thing to consider is that some fonts are “janky”. They sometimes (rarely) have strange paths in vectors, and whatnot. The best plan if you get weird test results is to export your vector to a raster, then engrave that raster. It’s rare, but it can happen. Someone just posted a problem with the milspec font this week.

Rasterizing your fullsize vector will prevent that for sure.

All that being said, your jaggy letters have style!

Here’s the milspec thread:

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To answer some questions: 1) yes, a vector image would clean up the edges of the letters. Give it a try (even if not the correct font) just using some regular vector letters exported from your software of choice, and see how that works.
2) yes, the light and dark colors of the grain of the wood have different “resistance” to the laser and cut differently. I saw this particularly with some oak that I engraved. I believe the light color blew through the wood while the dark was much less affected.
3) in addition to the grain of the wood, the LPI of the engrave has a similar effect. If you are at a low LPI setting, like 75, you can get an effect like gills on a fish or pleats on an air filter with alternating deep and shallow areas.
4) the idea of scoring was to put masking tape down, cut out the borders of the masking tape with the score operation, remove the tape in the desired area, and then paint (instead of laser) the dark colors. One thing I’ve found using this approach is that the paint tends to seep under the masking tape. I’ve used this approach before on a CNC router - Mask the whole thing, make your cutouts, spray the newly exposed raw wood, and then peel off the mask. Where the paint seeped under the masking tape, it was easy enough to sand the surface of the wood to get rid of it, but this only worked because the CNC router carved away a much deeper cut into the wood.

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Thanks for the response. I’ll be sure to post another picture after I try the vector file.

Thanks for the advice. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

So I did a test with the Dancing Script Font. It looks a lot better but, as you said it might, it did not engrave where the letters overlap. Not a deal-breaker, but any way to fix that? I also tested it after converting it to a raster file. Any idea why there are small specs surrounding the letters?

The specs are a result of the image being probably a jpeg or the like. if it were me, I’d save the text out as a raster at about 300 DPI as a PNG. Then try engraving that resulting rastered image with the “convert grey to power” or whatever the exact wording is. Stay away from convert to dots or convert to patterns.

Also, as you’re testing, you might try just engraving the “P”. It’ll go a lot faster and use less material :slight_smile:

Another possibility on the vector is to select all the letters and then join them into one shape. In inkscape, it’s Path->union. Some helpful Illustrator user can probably tell you what the equivalent is, if you use AI and don’t know.

Typically unioning paths will destroy the nodes inside the shapes and leave you with a cleaner exterior as one welded shape.


Cool. I’ll give it a shot. Thanks for the help.

If you don’t want to use spraypaint, which can be a hassle, I have had very good luck with cheap-o craft store acrylic paints inside engraves. You do need a good well-stuck-down paper mask, though, which would be tough on that rough pine.


In Illustrator select the text, object>expand. then under pathfinders window Shape mode>unite. It will make it one graphic instead of overlapping graphics.

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All text that I etch is in vector format. It will give you the best smoothness. You can also add a vector etched line or score around the outside to give it a definite neat outline. Like coloring a cartoon. It always looks better after its outlined.
Surprisingly I found an example by googling cartoon without outline…lol


Hey there, I’m having the lines where fonts are connecting, and I tried in inkscape to do the path to union and I still have them when engraving. Do you happen to have any other nuggets of gold that could assist?

Thanks a ton!

Be sure to convert the font to a path before doing a Union. (Can’t remember off the top of my head…but I think it’s select it, then Path >Object to Path or something along those lines.) Then right click and Ungroup. Move the items over each other, then Union.

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