How to get darker engrave?

Found these little boards for $3 at wally world and decided to give them a try. The result was a good, deep engrave, but no color at all. I thought it would have more of a char to the engrave. Is there anything I can try to darken the engrave next time, or is this just a characteristic of certain woods?


FYI - the darker look to the mountains on the right was due to me trying to paint in the lines with not so good results. Lol. When you look at the board straight on, you can barely make out the words because of the lack of color.

If you mask it first with paper tape, you can use a light coat of spray paint on it to darken the engrave. :slightly_smiling_face:


We had a photo with the name engraved on bottom that sort of came out like that. I suspect different woods will look different.

We fixed it (well, my forbearing wife actually did, I was going to burn another) by getting an extremely thin paint brush and stroking some dark brown acrylic paint into the engrave before sealing the entire thing.


That was the idea behind Jules’ suggestion. Mask the surface of the board before you engrave it. When it comes out of the GF, the masking will have been removed from every place the laser touched. Spray paint and then remove the masking. The engraving will be colored with your paint and every place else will be pristine and untouched wood.

This is the trick I used with these Acrylic parts. Any place with red paint is a place the laser touched the plastic. Any place that’s crystal clear was covered with masking. I didn’t do a very good job of painting, also didn’t get all the masking off the centers of the letters, but I was anxious to see how it’d look so didn’t waste time with primer or a second coat of color. But it does illustrate the potential for the technique…



Yes, this is common, especially with laminates (bamboo always does this!). Paint, ink, even crayons, are helpful.


This is a big factor. It’s actually the resin content of the wood that plays a big role in achieving darker colors in an engraving.


If you are willing to experiment, you can sometimes get more char by reducing speed (and reducing power to avoid going too deep). Neither zooms nor pews have a linear scale, so you’ll have to play, but I’ve gotten some decent results that way.

Mild irony: for cuts you want to go as fast as possible to get a clean line, but for engraves as slow as feasible.

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I found a product called Laser dark that can be applied after the engraving & before you remove the masking. It is suppose to be better than paint as it will not bleed into the grain of the wood. See attached video.


Thank you for the tip!

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I’ve used Minwax Polyshades for years. My go-to is Mission Oak but if I want contrasting engraves on the same piece (2 different “darknesses”), I’ll also use Pecan. Darkens and seals in one-step. Available at your local big box for cheap :slightly_smiling_face: