Stain/Lacquer before cut

As an experiment, I stained and lacquered a small board and the cut an intricate design on it. The soot just wiped away. Is there any downside to this? The only thing I can think of is the fumes caused by the lacquer. Would it damage the unit in any way?

Moved to beyond the manual, this isn’t a problem per se, and GF staff won’t get involved in non-proofgrade material discussion.

As for your question I know it’s been discussed before; you’ll have to rummage in the search feature to find the previous threads. The answer is basically “yes”, but you’ll want to be sure the finish is laser safe. Search the forum for “shellac”, I seem to recall that was a generally accepted laser safe finish, but the threads contained a lot more info than that.

That should get you started. You might want to search the forum for whatever finish you tried, too. Google can help as well, “polyurethane laser safe” is a good place to start googling, for example.


Not making a recommendation on safety, but I have engraved hundreds of pieces of poly coated maple. Zero impact to the laser and the smoke just wipes off.

Hint: If you decide to fill the engravings with a color afterward do not use stain. It will wick under the poly along the grain. I used a thicker acrylic paint and that seemed to work fine. Also just wipes off the poly.


Alcohol based stuff does the same.


Well I figured I’d stain then lacquer then cut. Just curious if there was any impact. Thanks!

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That’s pretty much what the PG wood materials are – prefinished wood with laser-safe coatings.

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One thing that I don’t know about is whether prefinishing will change the color of your engrave.

I’ve been wondering if there was something that could be applied to something like Baltic birch to increase the contrast in its engraves. Maybe an oil? What worries me is the residue that oil smoke might leave, so I haven’t tried it yet.

If you stain Baltic Birch or other light wood with a mocha color, and engrave, the engraving comes out birch colored… it’s quite cool to see.


Yep, Do that all the time with my CNC router too :slight_smile:


I suppose this only works if you engrave the stain away? I wonder how deep the average stain penetrates?

It varies. Standard stain will penetrate fairly far but if you get a stain/sealer (all in one) it doesn’t penetrate nearly as far.