Taking too long to engrave?

I just want to make sure I’m not doing something wrong. I make signs, usually 8x8 with a detailed graphic and text. It takes about 1.5-2 hours depending on the design, which I have never second guessed, but I’m trying to figure out pricing and started searching the forums. People are saying that for whole 8x10 pictures it takes them 45 minutes so now I’m wondering if maybe I’m doing something wrong and my projects are taking longer than they should? I know pricing has been discussed ad nauseam which is why I was searching but the consensus seemed to be .75-1 dollar per minute and nobody is going to pay $67 for a little 8x8 sign that’s not personalized. I was thinking $25 seemed reasonable but now I’m a little freaked out that maybe I’m doing something wrong.

If you’re engraving in wood/plywood, try a lower lpi. This will speed things up and a lower lpi will often look as good as a higher one. It’s the nature of the material.

Or they could measure time like my friend who uses magic time. How long will that take you? Uh-huh, and where does this magic time come from???


I’ll give it a go. Currently for plywood I’m doing around 700/75/270 for BB. I get good results and I like it a little deeper and darker because I use a dark stain. If it’s too light it makes it really hard to see the detail. I’ll try to lower my LPI though and see how it looks!

I get really nervous because I’m used to CNC machines which start to get really finicky after about 200 hours so I’m all freaked out about how much time I’m putting on the machine.

If you reduce the LPI, you can increase the power a few points and you should be able to equalize the effect of the higher LPI.


I understand how you would want to maximize it, but besides regular cleaning I wouldn’t worry. Some people have gotten dud machines, but it does not appear to be due to use. So far, from what I’ve observed, time used is not a good predictor of failure. And if it’s going to fail, better to do it in warranty. That said, there are moving parts and all moving parts eventually wear. Not using it, however, just makes it sculpture.


I do 1000/90/170 and it comes out with a brown color and the LPI is pretty consistent and just scratching the surface (not really measurable deepness) through masking tape. If I use the default, it cuts deep and the LPI lines are perceptible.

Takes me about 75 minutes to do 18 letters for scrabble tiles spread across the whole cutable area.

I have a Basic model, remember that the others are 20% faster.


The 20% faster really only applies to full power operations.


Thanks, I like to cut deeper because I stain and sand. If the lines are too light they’ll just sand off but, with that said, I’ll try to lower my LPI for some of my projects like my cutouts which sometimes can become brittle if I go too deep with the engraving!

That makes me feel better. My CNCs have to start getting maintenance after a couple hundred hours which sometimes requires hours of pulling them apart, changing motors out, replacing bearings and belts, etc. It’s time consuming and costly so I’ve been worried about how much I use the machine since I’ve used it for hours every day since I received it last month. I’ve been cleaning it when I think I have hit the 40 hour mark and obviously wiping the lenses more often as the whole machine gets a yellow tint inside of it.

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Vibration in CNC is a very big deal. The GF doesn’t have that issue. The first units are coming up on 2 years now, and I’d say the vast bulk of us just have had to clean the unit.

One person has replaced a tube. Couple people had to buy a spare lens, either from damage due to either defective lens or junk getting on it that wrecked the coating… or dropped and broken. Maybe seen two posts about needing to replace a belt.

It’s a solid machine and it doesn’t need a lot of handholding. Just keep your optics and (less frequently) your fans clean and you’ll probably be worry-free.

Oh and get some insulated duct. Your ears will thank you.


That makes sense. I won’t worry about it too much then and just go with what yields the best results. I think for my signs and decor $15-$25 is fair when it’s done on plywood, especially when it’s not personalized and I don’t have to do a custom design, but I got kind of stuck on the fact people said it should be $1 per minute. I know I’d never pay $65 for an 8x8 plywood sign. Obviously when I use my hardwoods I can charge more but for these little flea market items I don’t think it’s a practical way to price my items.

Right, so engraving might not be the best way to monetize here.

If it were me, I’d be looking into mounting cut woods on the surface or inlaying. The GF portion of the job will be done an order of magnitude faster.

Even with the tricks outlined here, a really full 8x8" area will take at least 20+ minutes, which is too long to really scale up if you’re worried about hourly rates.

Keep in mind that not all 8x8 engraves are created equal, and that sometimes the actual design of what you’re trying to engrave will impact the job length. There are a lot of variables, it’s hard to make blanket statements.


Regarding your engraving time, I personally run jobs at top speed and adjust power to adjust effect if possible.
@evansd2’s comment about other methods besides engraving I think have the most potential for saving time.

Also, using a combination of surface mounting and highlighting with some engraving can add interest to a piece. :sunglasses:


You’re probably right but I should have clarified it’s mostly my art that I’m making and then adding loops to hang it. Bouquets of flowers, zentangles, and things of that nature. I’m not super worried about hourly rates as long as I make money. The materials cost me 70 cents or less. My concern was mostly that my items seemed to be taking so much longer than others and that it would put too much wear on the machine. If I can worry less about the machine I can still pump out ten pieces a day. A lot of the things I engrave I sell for 40-100, (and I think it’s probably far less than what I should be charging), because they’re handmade items on nicer wood with carvings and engraving but these particular signs I just don’t think would go for that much. I just enjoy making them more.

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I have worked this machine pretty hard. I’m currently into another order of 1000 tokens engraved both sides. The count will be 6,000 when I finish this batch. I don’t think you are working yours too hard. I think there are others who have used theirs much more than I.
I’m just making sure I have the cost of tube replacement set aside.