Sealing and engraving

Hi folks,
This is going to be painfully obvious, but just to get it out there: I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to woodwork.

I’m working on a gift box made from cherry plywood, and I’m thinking of using Howard Feed-N-Wax (wood polish and conditioner) to bring out the color and grain. The box has some deep engraving on it, a mix of broad areas and fine lines.

Do I mask, engrave/cut, then wax-on-wax-off (including the engraved areas)?
Or do I apply the wax to the whole board, then mask, then let the Glowforge work its magic?

The label says it’s a petroleum distillate product that should be kept “away from heat, sparks, and flame”, so naturally I want to put it under the laser. I’m unclear whether that warning applies only to the concentrated product or to the treated wood as well.

I’d appreciate any lifeline you could throw this clueless newbie!

Glowforge materials (“Proofgrade”) have a finish already applied to them, which is obviously removed when you engrave on it.

I haven’t used that product specifically, but I doubt the tiny amount on the surface is going to make any difference to your engraving, or pose a fire risk. Many here (myself included) have engraved on painted or self-treated wood.

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Only way I’ve done it is to apply the Howards after the engraving…so that the engraved area is protected. If you apply then engrave, the protection is gone in those areas. (I think it would be okay to apply it first though from a laser safety standpoint, as long as you let it dry completely before lasering. Might be a little extra flamey.)


I forgot to mention that this is non-PG plywood, untreated.

I think I’ll try both ways, but I’ll start by lasering first.

Thank you both!

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I’ll also throw it out there that deep engraves on plywood don’t always look the best. As you hit the middle layers you can usually see it. Solid hardwood tends to be a bit better for deep engraving for that reason.


Yep, I’ve wrestled with that before! That substrate is ugly.

This one is just text and a bit of ornamentation, so a shallow engrave should work fine.

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Heh, I was going off this:

go forth and laser :slight_smile:

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Hahah, I didn’t mean to say “deep”! My wife is watching a video about deepfakes, and I think it contaminated my brain. :laughing:

Sorry about that!