Tips for Choosing the Best Wood for Laser Cutter Projects

So, you've learned all about laser cutters and now you're ready to start your project. But, wait! You haven't picked out your wood, and quite frankly, you're not even sure where to begin when it comes to choosing the best wood for laser cutters. If that sounds familiar, you're certainly not alone, and we want to help. We know it's difficult to know where to begin, which is why we've put together some useful tips to help you make the right selection.


Check the Resin Content

The resin or sap content of the wood you choose can have a significant impact on whether the wood burns lighter or darker. For example, if you're looking for a darker burn, you should choose a wood with a high resin content. Cherry and alder are both excellent choices. But, if you're looking for something a little lighter, you may want to go with oak.

Learn the Differences in Wood Types

With several types of wood, it can be difficult to know the differences and how each could affect the outcome of your project. Here's a short list of woods that are great choices for when you're first getting started in wood cutting or engraving:

  • Soft Woods - With softer woods like poplar and balsa, the wood can be cut and engraved faster using a lower power level. If the wood is lighter, there will be less contrast as well.
  • Hard Woods - Cherry and oak are typically denser than other woods and require higher power levels for engraving and cutting. However, when compared to soft woods, these offer more contrast when engraved.
  • Veneers - Since veneered wood is made using real wood on the surface, you can engrave it just like with solid wood panels.
  • Plywood - A great choice for many laser cutting and engraving projects, plywood comes in a wide range of sizes and types. However, when choosing plywood, be sure to select an option that is specifically marketed for laser use.

Test the Material Before You Begin

The type and thickness of the wood you're cutting can have a significant impact on your project. Your speed, power, and other laser cutter settings will vary based on these factors as well. Since even the wattage of your laser and the environment can affect your settings, you should perform a materials test on a scrap piece of wood before you begin.

Visualize the Finished Product

Once you've chosen the right material, tested it out to make sure it will produce your ideal results, and you've got a visual of what you want your project to look like after completion, you're ready to begin. Whether you're a hobby laser cutter or an emerging professional, following these simple tips can help you on your way to creating a beautiful masterpiece in no time!

Enjoy Your Success

As long as you start your project with a quality wood that is flat and has minimal imperfections, you should come out with a nice result in the end. Keep in mind what thickness you need to create the result you're aiming for. Once you've made all your cuts and you're happy with the overall appearance of your material, be sure to use a rag to gently rub off any excess debris. You may also want to preserve and protect your piece with the application of a good finish.
The best way to ensure your project is a success is by choosing the right laser cutter with the best laser cutter software. If you're looking to engrave and cut woods, the 40W DigiLab Laser Cutter is the best choice. Anything less may not get the job done, and anything more will cost you much more than necessary.