Looking for laser ideas on specific project

I’ve been researching for 2 days to find a solution for a customer-friend. He needs a 10"x7"x3" box with a hinged lid and a specific laser engraved design on the lid. It needs to be 1/8" (3mm) thick. This is all easy, but he wants it in a dark wood-grain colour, like walnut. The darkest wood I can source locally in Ontario, Canada is cherry, and it’s way too light. I researched several possibilities, all of which are less than ideal, and I thought I’d ask more experienced people that may roll their eyes at how easy the solution is. Here are things I’ve considered:

  • Buying thin wood veneer and gluing it onto light woods that I have, then laser engrave/cut. I can’t find dark veneer rolls anywhere locally. Only in China. And I don’t know if wood glue is laser safe, I have yet to look into this. And this is time sensitive.
  • Staining the wood, but I’ve read you shouldn’t engrave/cut stained wood.
  • Painting the wood a dark brown and using a graining tool to simulate wood grains. Although it seems this works best with stains, and my understanding is stain is generally non-laser safe. But acrylic paint is?
  • Using self adhesive films that look like wood. But most of these seem to contain PVC and are therefore non-laser safe.
  • PG materials are not an option that is feasible, as I’m in Canada.

Are there other options that anyone can think of?

I would probably try staining the wood after it has been cut and cleaned, not before.

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How am I going to do this without getting stain into all the tiny engraved crevices?

Wouldn’t that just make the engraving stand out more? I am not sure why that would be an issue.


I’m not sure how it would stand out more. The engraving needs to contrast the wood, right? When I stain the wood with a walnut stain for example, all the stain is going to make its way into the engraving, so you’ll have engravings that are walnut, sitting on a walnut piece of wood, with no contrast at all. Sure, when you wipe away the excess stain off the wood piece, it’ll be a little lighter than the engravings that are full of stain, but it will be far from a contrast. Right?

Without knowing any additional details, I cannot say if it work or not. But I still think that is the route I would test first. Make a small sample with an engraving similar to the one you are planning and just try staining it to see how it turns out.

Without trial and error I don’t think you are going to be able to find a solution. And I still think that is the simplest solution to the issue you described.

I was just says that is what I would try if I had the issue you set before us.

If you’re engraving into a dark wood, you’d have the same issue I’d think.

This is cheap Sande plywood, stained with walnut stain for the body and a lighter oak-ish stain for the medallion. You could create a hold-out area like this and be careful with the edges around it.

Search Rusty Design Canada. They have walnut and they are located in Ontario I believe. Westwind Hardwood in BC also ships all across Canada.

How local is local? There are mail order wood outlets in the states like Ocooch and green valley wood products, bell forest and… umm I know there are more. Then there’s ebay, Kim Oberlin always has walnut at great prices but it’s stateside so international shipping might be an issue.

More info on Kim: Search results for 'Kim oberlin' - Glowforge Owners Forum

I know there have been some canadian material source threads, I assume you’ve read them?

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Walnut veneer plywood?

Stain darkens because it’s transparent.
Your crevices will be darker than the surface because they start darker.

Yeah, I’m sure the engraving would be darker, but my fear is since I need the wood piece to be quite dark (walnut), even if the engraving was pitch black, it wouldn’t contrast enough I think. Come to think of it, even if I could engrave stained wood without issues, this poses the same problem , since engravings are generally dark :confused:
Right now I’m experimenting with engraving light wood, filling engravings with light paint, sanding then staining. I’m only on the second step. I also purchased walnut wood veneer from China to try it out.

That’s the main problem. Can’t find it anywhere in Ontario.

Anywhere in Canada would be fine. The CAD/US currency exchange rate is so bad now we can’t buy anything from the US.

I’ll probably have a look.

Thanks for the sources. Unfortunately they didn’t have 1/8", but I’ll bookmark them for future reference.

That’s interesting… I’m looking into this option. Thanks.

Didn’t see this thread until now, but I’ll add this info in case any else stumbles across the thread.

Ottawa store. Walnut and other plywood (MDF core) in 1/8" and 1/4" thicknesses, in a variety of sizes including 12"x20". Also a variety of veneers. Ships across Canada.

Stores across Canada, variety of veneers:

There are other places in Ontario to get walnut.

I’ve been buying from Lee Valley for a while, but KJP, I’ve never heard of them, but that’s awesome!!! Definitely looks like a source I could use.
Thanks a lot.

You’re welcome! I’ve bought lumber, plywood, and finishing materials from KJP. They’ve been a good company to deal with. As is Lee Valley.
What part of Ontario are you in?

I’m in London, Ontario.

There should be some suppliers in that area. Check if there is a local woodworking group, they’ll be able to direct you. I knew someone outside London but he moved a few years ago, so don’t have any specific leads for you.

It should.

I just checked for Kim oberlin on eBay. Couldn’t be found

He’s right here:


You can also contact him directly here: