Users need to understand wood carving before starting. It is essential to know how to choose the right wood for carving, how to be extra careful, and what ideas you can implement as a beginner to get your hands on wood carving.
How to choose wood for laser engraving?
All types of laser engravers, including diode lasers, are capable of wood laser engraving. They have enough energy to vaporize the material the beam falls on. But sometimes, you don't get the results you want. This is because of the wood you choose.
Unfortunately, not all types of wood will give you the best engraving results. There are many inconsistencies when it comes to wood. Surprisingly, even if you use the same kind of wood, you can't guarantee the best results, because even the same kind may have different internal resin content.
There are three things users should keep in mind when choosing wood for laser engraving.
The first thing you need to consider is the resin content of the wood you choose. Resin is a naturally viscous liquid found in trees, especially in resinous trees known for their production.
If the wood has a high resin content, the final engraving will be darker in color. This is due to the burning of the resin when the laser beam falls on the surface. Having said that, woods with low resin content have light-colored engraving patterns.
Resin trees are soft because they contain resinous liquid, on the other hand, the wood of non-resin trees is very hard. For example, cherry wood is soft because it contains resin.
Wood chips have a lot of inconsistencies; even the same species may not have the expected resin content. If you are an experienced craftsman and have been observing different types of wood over the years, you may have an idea of the color of the wood. If the wood is lighter in color than usual, the resin content is low.
Shadow of the Wood
The next important factor in choosing a wood type is shade. This factor is self-explanatory, the shade of the wood can be easily seen.
The engraving is actually the burning of the wood, so the result is a dark pattern that is darker than the original color of the wood. But if the shade of the wood is already dark, the carving won't be very noticeable. Therefore, it is better to choose wood types that are lighter in color.
Stripes refer to the lines that occur naturally in wood. These won't create any obstacles to sculpting, but will affect the final result. The stripes are clearly visible after engraving, destroying the beauty of the engraving. There should be as few streaks as possible to make the engraving easier for the observer to see.
Some common natural and engineered wood types used for carving are:
high density fiberboard
How to avoid burn marks when laser engraving wood?
When the laser beam hits the wood, the surface starts to burn and the particles start to burn and evaporate quickly. Burn marks may appear after engraving due to burning, making the engraved object look unsightly or unfinished. Burn marks must be avoided to ensure the attractiveness of the engraving.
1. Adjust power and speed
The first thing you can do is adjust the power and speed settings of the laser engraver. If the power of the laser machine is too high, it will definitely leave burn marks. High power starts to burn wood and pellets from the edge. Therefore, you need to reduce power consumption as much as possible.
Speed also plays an important role in avoiding burn marks. If the speed is low, the laser beam will spend more time on the object and cause burn marks. Therefore, the speed should be high enough to engrave accurately and reduce burn marks.
Power is proportional to burn marks and inversely proportional to speed. Both should be set for best results.
2. Use the correct laser honeycomb panel
When a laser beam hits an object, it generates too much heat. Heat dissipation is important; otherwise, it will increase the temperature of the wood. If the heat dissipation is not optimal, there will definitely be burn marks.
It is recommended to use honeycomb panels for engraving. Not only does it save the surface beneath it, it also prevents burn marks by providing excellent heat dissipation.
3. Use Air Assist
Due to the carving, the surface of the wood produces smoke. This smoke builds up around objects and increases their temperature. Therefore, its high temperature is another cause of burn marks. Also, smoke can yellow the wood.
Fumes can be blown away with the help of air assist. For a laser engraving machine, air assist is an essential part. It provides a steady high pressure airflow to blow hot smoke.
4. Use Laser Engraving Masking Tape
Laser-engraved masking tape is a great idea to avoid burn marks. When you use tape, the first thing that comes into contact with the laser beam is the tape. It prevents fumes or fumes from the engraving process, and therefore prevents burn marks. After engraving, the tape peels off the surface easily.
5. Add water to the wood
The cause of burn marks is excessive heat. The water helps reduce the temperature when you wet the wood chips. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent wood burns, but after doing so, you need to allow the wood to dry. Remember that water also affects the shape and appearance of wood.
How to deal with the smoke and peculiar smell in the wood carving process?
First, laser engraving should be done in a well-ventilated space. It helps remove fumes and odors from the carving process. If there is a window, open the window and use a ventilator to circulate air.
Odors and smoke build up around objects. Therefore, it is necessary to use air assist. Air assist blows high-pressure air onto objects. It disperses heat and smoke from the area. Due to the strong air pressure, if the area is also well ventilated, the user will not perceive smoke and odors.
Also, it is recommended to use a fume purifier during the wood laser engraving process.
Woodcarving Ideas for Beginners
Here are some engraving ideas that beginners can try on their laser engravers.
Cutting boards are one of the easiest wood carving ideas for beginners. All you need is a piece of wood or a pre-made cutting board. Then choose the appropriate design for engraving. It can also be used for decorative purposes.
wooden cutting board
Wooden wall hangings are a great idea to decorate your home with homemade items. You can engrave an image or design on a piece of wood, or create a 3D wall hanging using multiple layers of wood blocks.
Wooden coasters can be customized with engraved names, images or slogans. They're perfect for special events like St. Patrick's Day or National Day. Coasters can also be used for decoration. Pre-made wooden coasters are available in online stores, so you just have to choose a design.
Carved rolling pin
A rolling pin can carve different patterns on the dough. Depending on the activity, you can engrave designs on the pins. For this you need to use the swivel attachment.
Stunning jewelry boxes can be made using plywood. Several millimeters of plywood can be engraved and cut as required. These pieces can then be joined together to create a stunning jewelry box.
For kids, you can make jigsaw puzzles. First, you need to engrave any designs on the plywood. You can then cut the wood blocks like a puzzle.
best wood carving laser machine
The Atomstack S20 Pro is a diode laser engraving and cutting machine compatible with many materials, including different types of wood. Its powerful and highly focused laser can easily cut and engrave wood with extreme precision and precision.