How to do a dark engrave with little depth?

I’m making some coasters using basswood and I’d like to do a dark engrave but I want the depth to be very shallow.

I essentially want to “burn” the image in to the coaster as dark as possible, but create as little actual depth as possible (as it will throw the balance off of whatever cup is set on the coaster).

I know I can decrease power, but then the actual engrave is too light.

That doable? Any tips there on settings?

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Generally, the more power, the darker but, generally, the more power the deeper. That, to me, is especially true with basswood (which smells fantastic when you laser it, IMHO). You can try multiple passes at a lower power and see if that gets you there.


You can hit it with a spray of paint it stain (minwax is good) before you peel off the masking. That will also protect the inner exposed core from absorbing water.


I agree with James, the higher the contrast the more it pops, and the best method I have found is to paint it. Personally I like flat black.
IMO the real magic of masking is not to save cleaning, but to cut a perfect painting mask while burning the design.

The point he makes about sealing the engrave, particularly for an application like a coaster where the open fiber of the wood is subject to moisture absorption is spot on. Painting accomplishes both sealing and giving high contrast in a single step.
Another method to achieve a high contrast without burning deep would be an inlay. I have had good results inlaying the proof grade veneer in an engrave.

Google Photos

Sealing in this case is still needed, and I do a clear spray sealant.


I was having a problem similar to that and solved it by spraying black “rubber” paint before weeding to get this:



Different strokes for different folks…I’ll darken an engrave by gradually slowing down the speed and reducing the power to 100%, but I also reduce the LPI simultaneously…there’s no need to go over and over an engraved area with a high LPI, it really cuts deep. Keep it at 195-225.

Basswood tends to burn blackest of all the materials I’ve tried anyway. Just run a few small tests, a half inch rectangle, starting at 900/100/195, then slowly decrease the speed until you get the darkness you want. Tweak the power down if there’s too much char.

(And this will probably get bumped to BTM…sorry.)


Thanks for everyone’s help. 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