Wood Engraving

Can you engrave wood?

In a couple of words, absolutely YES!  In fact, here at Waterloo Engraving working with wood is one of our favourite things to do!  We’ve done all sorts of different wood products – canoe paddles, clocks, picture frames, hammers, custom pens, charcuterie boards, coat hangers, family keepsakes, barn boards, tables, chairs, doors, and wine boxes, just to name a few.

Can you bring your own wood for engraving, or do you have to buy from us?

We’re happy to work with you on your special project, either way.  If you’d like to bring in something of yours we’ll happily take a look to see how easy or challenging it could be, but if you’ve got an idea and would like us to source it for you, we’ve got lots of suppliers and can source something for you.

Be sure to see the “Wood Engraving 101” below for more details.

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Wood Engraving 101

How does laser engraving on wood work?

If you think of an onion, what we’re basically doing is peeling away layers of existing material.  We’re not adding to the wood at all (like the way a laser inkjet printer adds ink to paper), what we’re doing is lasering out wood particles through a burning process with the laser.  It’s physically removing the wood itself, so what we engrave will NEVER come out, it’s permanently there.

Do different wood types, grains, and colours, affect the engraving?

Yes actually, they all play an important part in the end result.  The harder the wood the more power we have to use in the laser, the more grains in the wood (which are harder sections of the wood) affects how the laser burns into the wood, and the colouring of the wood plays an integral role of how well it comes out.  For example, if we have some wonderful pieces of hardwood like maple with lots of knots and tightly wound grain patterns, we can’t use those laser settings on a regular piece of light pine – we will set the darn thing on fire!  Generally speaking, we can work with any type of wood, but if you’d like the engraving to stand out, we usually say the lighter coloured wood the better.

Can you burn the wood, or make the engraving look “burnt”?

No, you can’t really burn the wood with laser engraving, well, actually you can, but it requires us to essentially set the wood on fire and we’re not really willing to do that with our equipment.  If you’re looking for a black burnt look, those types of markings are usually made by branding.

Is there a size limit to what wood can be engraved?

Yes, there’s actually two limits, the first being a size limit, the second being a weight limit.  We can’t put anything on the laser that weights more than 50 pounds, so if you’ve got a tree stump you would like engraved, I’m afraid we can’t do that.  From there, our laser bed size is 32″ x 20″ but we do have a pass through that can be utilized.  So, suppose you have an 8 foot tall door you would like done (which we have done), so long as it’s not any wider than 32″, we should be able to do it.  Please contact us if you have an oversize piece of wood.

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