Unknown wood ~ best guess? (Kirigen Wood Stash Box)

I’m engraving this box from Amazon for a friend (it doesn’t specify the wood type). I wasn’t too worried about it (was planning on using my “all purpose” setting of 1000/85), but when I applied my masking it won’t adhere at ALL(?) I’ve never encountered that before so it made me a little nervous…

Would it work to use actual masking tape? (I don’t have painter’s tape)

And any other opinions re: a setting to start with (I’m using a thick font that usually engraves really deep, so I probably should start at a lower power than the one I listed above)?

This is the box:


Just don’t mask it. You should be able to wipe away any smoke stains since it’s already finished. Try the Med Maple Hardwood settings.


Masking isn’t a necessity at all, so I’d skip it altogether and just clean up with a little cleaner and/or a damp cloth. (I’m a fan of orange hand cleaner, and the “Awesome” cleaner from the dollar store, but there are a lot of other good ones out there.) And I’m going to guess the masking won’t stick because of an oily finish on the box which means it’ll likely be a breeze to clean up.


:stuck_out_tongue: Great minds think alike and we must have been typing at the same time.


Thank you all ~ it seems the consensus is no masking. :blush::+1:t3: I was afraid of scorch marks, esp. on a wood I’m unfamiliar with…but I guess it makes sense that if masking doesn’t stick to it, it’s likely the “scorching” won’t either.


I am curious, though ~ would using actual masking tape work?

The masking is really just to keep burned soot from settling on the wood, and you won’t get any actual scorch marks or damage to the areas you didn’t engrave. Some unsealed wood can be tough to clean and it may get stained when you rub the soot, so it can be useful with that material. But when it comes to finished wood, I embrace going maskless 75% of the time. (And it’s much safer to go maskless too.)

And there’s no way to know if stronger masking tape would stick to the finish, but I’d guess not. (And using something that doesn’t stick super well is a big fire risk, and not worth trying.)


Oh hey, one more thing. When it comes to cleaning the box, try not to scrub too hard because you may accidentally remove some darker coloring/soot in the actual engraving and get an uneven finish. A light touch is best.

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According to the product description:
“This natural wood stash box with lid is made of selected Paulownia wood”.


How’d I miss that? Thanks! Although I haveno clue what settings would be used for that in particular. It seems pretty light/soft (more like a “craft” wood), so I’m good to start nice and light, and see. Then I can always do a second pass.

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Put a drop of water on it. If it beads up and runs off as opposed to soaking in, then the wood has a finish and any soot will just sit on the surface. I use a “magic eraser” to clean soot off finished wood.

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While I’m learning… for bigger fonts (like this) I’ve noticed that the engrave gets VERY deep. I usually have to do a much lighter setting (lower power, higher speed) than for other fonts. But I don’t always adjust the DPI.

Would a lower DPI make the engraving a little less deep as well?

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Nice find @beerfaced! Paulownia has a janka rating of 1,330, which is pretty soft and similar in scale to pine and Western red Cedar. So FWIW, these were my cedar setting and they might be a good starting point. (I can’t remember how or why I settled on these setting though, so take that for what it’s worth. lol)

And in case you don’t know what the “Janka Scale” is, here ya go.


This is a great resource! Thanks!

Oh wow ~ 345/28….I was going to start at 1000/55 :grinning: Hmm. I was thinking I’d be on the conservative side and go “fast” so it doesn’t get too deep. (This wood definitely feels very light and not like a hardwood.) Wouldn’t a 345 speed make it a lot deeper?

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Yes, the slower the speed, the longer the laser beam will be hitting the material, but that’s offset by a rather low power which will burn away less material. (Also notice I used a bit higher lines per inch, which will also make an engraving a bit deeper.) But that doesn’t mean other settings might not work too and that’s why it’s always good to test each material to figure out which one give you the best results; sometimes slow and low looks a lot better than fast and hot, and it really just depends on the material and artwork. (But I know you can’t test on your box , and I’m just talking in general. :slightly_smiling_face: )

Here’s another discussion about cedar where you’ll see that @ovm.steve also used a bit lower speed and power, but his LPI was lower than mine.

And I looked up the janka scale for basswood and it’s just little harder than paulownia, so lowering the power on the proofgrade basswood hardwood setting just a bit might also be a good starting point for you. (Here’s the proofgrade setting and you can see it’s more speed and power than mine, but that’s offset by a lower LPI, and I think it would give you similar results.)


i generally use basswood PG settings for paulownia. i’ve engraved 4 or 5 guitars made of paulownia and have been successful with that. they’re fairly close on the janka scale.


Thank you all, again!

Before seeing the last 2 replies, I went ahead and went with my gut: 1000/55, 225 dpi
The wood is so soft/porous I did mask with masking tape (since the regular masking wouldn’t stick to it). Just didn’t want to take any chances (did the water trick & it did NOT bead up).

You can see one area where it didn’t engrave (I think it’s because I had 2 strips of masking tape barely overlapping right there :woman_facepalming:t2:), but other than that, I’m pretty happy with how it came out. :+1:t3:

I will add, though - it was very stinky! (Due to internal glue I’m guessing?)

Thanks again, everyone!