Zebrawood Settings

I’m having a heck of a time getting a clean cut through some 1/8" zebrawood. I’m using the passthrough slot because my piece is 2 feet long but that shouldn’t make any difference. I’ve played around with all the settings and powers and done 2 passes, etc. and it’s never a good, clean cut all the way through. Anyone want to pass on their zebrawood settings to me?

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How is it failing? Is it cutting inconsistently? Sometimes woods with heavy contrast between sections have different densities and so are difficult to cut.

What settings were your best results?

Are you masking?

Is your piece flat? like flat flat? If not, make sure it is, use pins if you have to. be particularly aware of cupping in your boards, you’ll have to put it “curve down” )(like a smile, not a frown) so you can crank down on the edges with pins to get it flat.

You say 1/8", but that could mean anything from .10 to .16, in my experience – it’s almost never just .125. What is the actual thickness you’re dealing with? If your focus is off it can make a huge difference.

When was the last time you thoroughly cleaned your lens/windows?

Got any pictures of your failures? It might help understand what’s wrong.

And lastly: some woods just hate to be lasered. Ipe, rosewoods. etc, all give you a hell of a time. I have a piece of zebrawood and I did get it to cut, but it was a tough one, and led to heavy char. I hesitate to tell you the settings without all that qualification, so… here you go:
140/full/1x. Heavy char.
220/full/2x had less char but was also unreliable.

My piece was 0.135". Good luck, post pictures, and let us all know how it goes.


Yes, inconsistency is my problem. It looks like it almost cuts all the way through in some spots and definitely not in others. The contrast in the wood might be what’s causing me problems. The wood is masked on both sides and I’m using pins and everything is super flat. Like flat flat. I’ve measures and used the exact (as much as I could get it) thickness which happens to be .13 in this case.

The closest I got was with 130/full/1x but like you said - heavy char. I guess I’d rather have heavy char than it not cutting all the way through though. I’ve only been cutting small rectangles at this point - was hoping to do more intricate designs with this wood, but it’s not looking like that will be an option if I can’t find a setting I can rely on. I’ll clean my lense and keep trying though and see if I can ever get some consistency.

I’ll post what I come up with when I get more time to try again tomorrow. I gave up on it for tonight. :frowning:

Depending on your design…

Char can be made to work for you. Lean into it, and look at it this way:

Very lightly sanded and oiled up, char becomes pretty stable. You can get really black edges to your piece that won’t “bleed” and can be used as a design element. You might not need to lightly sand it either, it’s dependent on the species.

Finger joints get a black outline and can be decorative. You can do lots with finger joints to make them visually interesting, check out @geek2nurse did here with dark edges and fingers:

Great work all around on that, but the fingers just make it pop.

Likewise, I did a study of variations on finger joints:

Beyond that, if you really hate the char, you can overcut your pieces. Make your finger joints a bit too long (0.02" should be plenty), and sand them flush. You’ll end up with a gorgeous understated fingerjoint where the zebrawood can be front and center. If it’s an open topped box, assemble it first, then you can sand the edges clean on the top and bottom. No one will ever know your char secret.

I guess all I’m saying is that char itself isn’t a death toll. If you can get it to cut reliably and figure out your kerf compensation, you can use really charred woods to get great results.

Here’s a practical result:

Purpleheart chars a lot and can be finicky to cut. With the sanding techniques I mentioned, you can get results like this:

Looking closely, you can see that the char shows as thin black outlines on my finger joints. There is also a bit in that third picture (with the out-of-focus dice) if you look at the edge, you can see a bit of char I didn’t sand off, it’s a dark section of the wood right near the corner and another small section on the “cross piece” that divides the 2 sections of the tray. Ultimately I decided I liked the “antiquing” effect that this had, and left it.

Trust me, the recipient of this tray was astounded and only sees the gorgeous purple color. Anything you make with zebrawood will be the same, just stunning. Sand it as much as you can stand to really highlight the wood and make it a pleasure to touch (600+ grit final finish will make an impression), and get ready for the flood of compliments. :slight_smile:


Zebrawood is one of the interesting kinds of wood to laser. The different “stripes” in the wood are completely different hardness, so the settings for the “white” area is going to be different in the “black” area. Zebrawood, Wenge, and other woods that the “stripes” are the design element in the wood have the same “issue”. I haven’t done Zebrawood myself in my laser, but I imagine it would be best to have general shapes instead of tight curves and lots of detail work.


You know, strangely, wenge has never given me much guff. It cuts consistently and without much char. Always thought that was weird.

Depends on which “batch” of wenge you use. I have some stuff that the “variations” are very tight, and that has some good consistency to it. But if the batch you get has a little bit wider space between the “variations” and that alternates between cutting well (lighter colored areas) and Burning (darker areas)


Faster (and multiple passes) may lose you some of the char. But you might have to refocus between passes and it might not be worth the trouble to get it just right…

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