I'm trying to engrave on veneer

What is the best way to darken the engraving without burning through the veneer?

That might depend on the wood. Some wood does not darken. I made a bunch of 3D-engraved door plaques with, I think, poplar. The desired effect was not to have a dark engrave, and they came out great with a little cleaning (dry brush) - no change to wood color.

Engrave away masking, then paint and remove masking?


Thanks. Will play with that.

defocus the laser, or mask and paint, but if you choose to mask and paint you’re going to want to apply a coat of clear to seal the engraved area before applying the paint, or else the paint will likely bleed into the wood grain surrounding the engraving.


There are two (main) ways to engrave. One that folks think like it is woodburning is actually not but using variable shades of black cuts deeper and shallower depending on the shade. I just engraved some light maple a couple of days ago at the SD setting but nothing in the image was all that dark so it did not break through the the surface (and lost most of the detail as well.)

The other way to engrave is to use individual dots that are tiny but dark. It sets the shading not by how deep the cut goes but by how far the dots are apart. At the setting “HD photo” the dots are at 450 LPI and there is an adjustment as to how close the dots are. You need to have some dots in the lightest areas and some space between the dots in the darkest areas. In this way, all you see is the dots but even in the darkest areas you should not see clumps of overlapping dots thus showing the lower layer.

The higher the LPI the smaller the dots and the tighter they can be together without overlapping and making a sharper print, but if done correctly you should never see into the veneer much less below it. Higher LPI does make a slower cut but worth it in my estimation, as I consider an extra hour of machine time worth it for however long the finished piece will be giving joy to those who see it.


I’m having an interesting, but frustrating problem engraving some material using Walnut veneer settings. I’ve run a few tests and the machine is still functional, but in short, it won’t engrave a pure B&W image, no matter what I’ve tried. Vector engraves and cuts work fine. Files containing the same B&W images that I printed successfully on Walnut ply before Christmas won’t mark the material using veneer settings.

This has nothing to do with the original question but not really “worthy” of a thread of its own. Just very odd.

If I figure it out, I’ll post a note and also let support know. I’m dragging my heels for various reasons, the most significant being I am using a very thin and expensive Mahogany sheet and don’t want to waste any more than necessary.

Get some cheaper veneer of the same thickness for testing and prototyping. Then use the expensive stuff when you figure it out.


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Yeah, I’m using scraps of other material now. I was reluctant to at first, because I had already let the design run thru some of the intricate cut steps to ensure the laser was still working as before, and didn’t want to lose alignment with the engrave and scrap the piece of mahogany I had started with.

I didn’t have any suitable pieces that could be placed over or besides the final piece because of the way it was pinned down to the bed. It’s pretty badly warped, but that won’t affect the final product. It’s just a bookmark, I’m more interested in solving the mystery than completing the piece. :thinking:

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I found that and discovered where the change is (I think) Where there were primarily SD vector engrave settings when you opened an image to engrave, it now defaults to a draft Photo engrave setting that uses dots and much less power. I would imagine that on walnut those dots might be nearly invisible.

In SD graphic you will get the same thing as you are doing with vector engraving.

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Can you send me the image and let me play with it? dave@vancouverwoodsmith.com.


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The image is not very interesting technically beyond being somewhat light. I stopped the cut and restarted with the SD graphic setting and of course where I stopped the first stood out like a sore thumb. So being that it was a coaster, I flipped it over, did the other side, and put the cork backing on the bad side. Any greyscale pattern would do the same.

I do notice an interesting thing however with Magic Canvas. With just patterns of course there is no light source lighting, but only depth lighting with the deeper corners darker than the places directly facing you. However, with most photo-like images this is also true. This is great for most depth engraving as the grayscale also reflects the depth away.

In tigers or zebras, it is an issue as the dark areas are not farther away than the light, but in photos, even a face is lighter in the direction of the light source and this makes for weird depth engraving. In those cases, the dot system is much better as it only repeats light and dark and does not reflect distance. I see also the HD Photo is 450 LPI so should make a fairly sharp photo image.

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