Engraving On Wood Ultimate Guide

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Woodcraft including wood engraving and wood cutouts is one of the most popular hobbies. It’s always a good option if you are looking for something to kill your time. In this post, we have organized some useful information and tips for engraving on wood.

For beginners, you gonna find some amazing wood engraving ideas to start your creation and I also list the top 13 websites to download wood engraving files for free or with paid service. And you could also find how wood engraving is done, what wood is best for engraving, and some of the best wood engraving tools recommendations I have been using for wood engraving. If you find this post interesting and helpful, please feel free to share this post with your friends to spread your passion and happiness to more people.

Part One: Top 14 Wood Engraving Ideas

Wood engraving is not some new idea of creation but is quite popular among wood crafts fans. However, engraving and cutting are usually working together to get the perfect artwork. And following are some of top wood engraving ideas and many of them might also require some wood cutting works.

1) Wood Engraved Signs

Wood signs are widely used on many occasions and places for multiple purposes including lake house signs, mountain range signs, camp signs, boat dock signs, private property no trespassing signs, cabin signs, etc. Customized DIY engraved wooden signs not only help catch more attention but also add much fun and style to your property and life.

Engraved Wooden Signs
Engraved Wooden Signs

2)Wall Decoration Woodcrafts

Wall decoration would never be out of fashion and engraved woodcrafts would be on the top of your purchasing or decoration lists. No matter if you are a fan of home improvements or your restaurant and office need some decoration to make the environment more comfortable, you can easily find some amazing creations and wood crafts that easily fit your demands. If there is any bobby that could bring extra value to your daily life and work, it would be wood engraving.

Engraved Wooden Wall Decoration
Engraved Wooden Wall Decoration

3) Kitchenware sets & Tools

Have you ever considered building customized kitchenware sets for your restaurant? How about a customized coaster as a gift for your wife or mother? There are many occasions where engraved wooden kitchenware would be really handy and helpful.

Engraved Wooden Kichenware
Engraved Wooden Kitchenware

4) Lampshade

An engraved wooden lampshade is another fashionable decoration to add much love and mood to your house. Whether your house is with modern or vintage design, the perfect combination of light and wood color & texture would turn up into a decoration masterpiece. You can also go further to create some eye-catching designs with your favorite cartoon or movie characters, your family photos, and much more.

Wooden Engraved Lampshade
Wooden Engraved Lampshade

5) Photoengraving Gifts

Nothing would be better than a photoengraving gift with the best memories to remind you of those best moments in your whole life. That’s also the reason why photoengraving gifts is a booming business and one best option if you are considering starting a home DIY business. And if have difficulty in choosing a gift for your friends or family, you might consider building one photoengraving gift by yourself or get help from paid service providers.

Photoengraving Woodcrafts
Photoengraving Woodcrafts

6) Engraved Wood Wall Clock

The clock is one of the most common and popular items available for wood engraving.  You can start with a simple clock dial to a unique cutout with photoengraving of the background. If you have access to more complicated kit sets for engraving, you might even create some art pieces that have never seen on the market. You don’t need to limit yourself to wall clocks either, pocket watches, desktop clocks, all these are great ideas for new creations.

Engraved Wooden Wall Clock
Engraved Wooden Wall Clock

7) Customized Engraved Wood Phone Case

You don’t even need to look hard for a customized wood phone case. With a single search on the internet, you might find a large number of online shops selling these fantastic phone covers with amazing patterns and images. If you have no idea what to engrave, how about getting yourself an engraved wooden phone case? If you are considering a home business, this might also be a great business opportunity.

Engraved Wooden Case
Engraved Wooden Case

8) Bookmark & Business Card

A customized engraved & cutout wood business card would make your business stand out among all competitors immediately. What’s more, a wooden business card won’t wear off easily and would last longer. Its unique patterns and cutouts would send a clearer message about your brand. And a wooden bookmark would let readers find the last page they read immediately when they open the book. The customized bookmark is just too cool that they prefer to keep it instead of getting rid of it.

Engrave and Cutouts Wood Business Cards
Engrave and Cutouts Wood Business Cards

9) Event & Celebration Sets

Have you ever tried so hard to find perfect gifts or tool kits for events and celebrations like parties, weddings, or holiday celebrations?  Wooden menu plates, phonebook covers, coasters, tags, or message boards would be some really useful tools for these occasions. They are not just helpful tools to entertain your friends but also show your caring, feelings, and your hard work for these events.

Event & Celebration Wooden Sets
Event & Celebration Wooden Sets

10) Furniture

Wood is a preferred material for furniture for many reasons and one of them is that it makes people feel comfortable and at ease. It makes the phrase “Be at home!’ not just a warm welcome. And engraved wooden furniture could it even better in this terms. You could also use some customized patterns to present and enhance your taste and create a different living atmosphere as per personal preference.

Engraved Wooden Furniture
Engraved Wooden Furniture

11) Customized Wood Box

Wooden boxes are really useful tools for both your home and office to keep everything in order. You might already be surrounded by all kinds of boxes designed for multiple purposes. A unique wooden box package for your gifts, a well-polished jewelry box, and a delicate music box with your favorite songs and memories, who would say no to those amazing artworks.

Engraved Wooden Boxes
Engraved Wooden Boxes

12) Holiday Decoration Ornaments

Every time before Christmas, Halloween, or other holidays, you might spend lots of time searching for decoration ornaments, ordering packs of adornment, and after that waiting for weeks for the package to arrive. However, you could get a major part of these ornaments by yourself with a few wood plates if you know how to engrave on wood.  With a few clicks and searches on the internet, you would be amazed by all these decoration ideas available out there.

Engraved Wooden Holiday Decoration Ornaments
Engraved Wooden Holiday Decoration Ornaments

13) Pet Name Tags

If you have any pets, engraved wooden name tags would be another great project to practice your wood engraving skills. You may design your own name tags and engraved one for your pets.

 

Engraved Wood Name Tag
Engraved Wood Name Tag

14) Wood Jewelry

If you are a fan of jewelry and love to have your own collection of jewelry with different designs, you might find there is also wooden jewelry on the market. If you are still thinking about what to engrave on wood, how about designing and making a piece of wood jewelry for yourself, your friends, and your family?

Engraved Wooden Jewelry
Engraved Wooden Jewelry

Part Two: Top Wood Engraving Design Files Download Websites

Now you already know what to engrave after checking the above engraving ideas, but where to find the perfect design files for engraving? You might already know that there are many websites offering paid design services or paid design files and considering if it’s worth it. Don’t worry! I have organized 13 websites where you could find a wide variety of designs for your project and most of these websites do provide free files. If you have no idea what file format and want to know more about these websites, please check our previous post “Top 13 Laser Cutting Design Files Download Websites (Free & Paid Included)“.

Website Costs File Format File Quantity Registration
https://3axis.co Free BMP, CDR, DXF, DWG, PDF, STL 20,000+ Not required
https://laser-templates.com Free & Paid AI, CDR, DXF, EPS, PDF, SVG 5,000+ Not required
https://www.thingiverse.com Free AI, BMP, CDR, DXF, PDF, STL, SVG 4,000+ Not required
https://www.librarylaser.com Free & Paid AI, CDR, DXF, PDF, SVG 1,200+ Required
https://3dsvg.com Free & Paid SVG 740+ Required
https://www.freepatternsarea.com/free-projects Free DXF, DWG, EPS, PDF, PNG, STL, SVG 200+ Not required
https://www.ponoko.com/free-laser-cutting-files-templates Free EPS, PDF, SVG 200+ Not required
https://www.festi.info/boxes.py/?language=en Free AI, DXF, G-code, PDF, PLT, PS, SVG, SVG_Ponoko 200+ Not required
https://www.vecteezy.com Free AI, EPS, JPG, PDF 10,000+ Not required
https://www.makerunion.com Free DXF 230+ Required
https://www.etsy.com Paid AI, CDR, DXF, EPS, PDF, SVG 63,000+ Not required
https://sofontsy.com Paid SVG, PSD, PNG, EPS 100,000+ Required
https://thehungryjpeg.com Free & Paid DXF, EPS, JPEG, PNG, SVG 100,000+ Required

Part Three: How Is Engraving On Wood Done?

There are many methods to conduct engraving on wood and the 3 most popular methods would be laser engraving, CNC routing, and engraving by hand. Each engraving method has its own advantages and requirements and you might choose the right method for your method based on what tools you have in hand.

1) Engraving Wood With Laser Technology

After years of rapid development, laser engraving technology has been developed into one widely-used and popular engraving method. It was first used in industrial production but the ever-growing technology enables manufacturers to provide consumer desktop laser engravers to engraving DIY enthusiasts at really affordable prices now. If you do some research, you may find a high-quality laser engraving machine with a price range from $100-$500. Getting one quality laser machine for your hobby won’t dig a hole in your wallet and would be easily paid off considering all the work you could accomplish with the machine.

LASER is an abbreviation composed of the first letter of each word from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, which means “optical amplification of stimulated radiation”. Laser has four main characteristics: high brightness, directivity, monochromaticity, and coherence. A laser enables the device to concentrate all power into one small spot to generate a huge amount of heat to vaporize or burn the surface of the wood. The laser engravers provide different power settings to achieve engraving of different depths and engraving files provide detailed directions on which spot and how should each pixel be processed. To gain more information on laser engraving technology, please check our previous post “How do laser cutters & engravers work?“.

Compared with other engraving methods, here are some pros and cons of laser engraving machines:

  • It provides more details than other engraving methods. If you are planning on engraving complicated patterns or images with higher requirements for details, then laser engraving would be better as the engraving precision would be around 0.1mm.
  • It’s easier to operate compared with engraving by hand. After setting up the machine and getting all settings figured out, laser engraving is a click-to-play process and does not require too much practice or skills.
  • It provides more creative possibilities compared with other methods. The high power and high precision settings allow the laser engraving machines to engrave more images and patterns on different objects that might not be impossible with CNC and hands.
  • Most laser engraving machines also provide laser cutting abilities and it works for various materials except for wood.
  • However, laser engraver only works for 2D designs. Though laser engraver sometimes is also called 3D laser printer, it’s not good at carved 3D designs but flat 2D designs.

2) Engraving Wood With CNC Wood Router

Before talking more details about CNC router machines, you may think of handheld routers. The handheld router is a critical piece of equipment for any experienced woodworker or carpenter. They are typically used to cut out edges, dadoes, and rabbets or to create intricate shapes in a range of materials including wood, plasterboard, and sheet metal. The trouble with handheld routers is that they are time-consuming to use and difficult to master. Even skilled and experienced carpenters are prone to making mistakes that can be costly to fix. That’s why Computer Numerical Control (CNC) was incorporated into these devices to make them more versatile and efficient.

On most CNC routers the drive system allows the spindle to move and cut in three directions along the X, Y and Z-axis. The spindle would only move at the exact speed and distance specified by Gcode files prepared in advance. This allows the machine to carve some very interesting and complex shapes much more accurately and quickly than a machine operated by a human.

Here are some pros and cons of CNC routers compared with other engraving methods:

  • In terms of engraving details, it is somewhere between laser engraver and handcraft.
  • CNC routers are also very affordable machines to have for engraving projects.
  • It’s also very easy to use and does not require much time to practice and grow skills.
  • Compared with the laser engraver, though a laser engraver provides more details, CNC routers could be used to complete 3D designs which laser engravers fail to do.

3) Engraving Wood By Hand

Engraving wood by hand might be a popular hobby for many people and there are not many shortcuts to becoming an experienced woodworker or carpenter. Though there are many tools to make the work easier, the only way to handle the skill is through more practice and experience. And there are many websites and places where you could get professional advice from, thus we would skip this topic.

Part Four: Best Wood For Engraving – Picking the Best Wood for Engraving

After reading part three, you might have already decided how would you engrave on the wood. Now it’s time to pick some best wood pieces for your engraving projects.

1) Choosing the Best Wood for Laser Engraving

Choosing the right wood pieces for engraving is as important as choosing the right design for your engraving projects. For laser engraving, here are some tips:

  • Opt for Minimal Streaking: Streaks on wood become a distraction for engraved images/photos/patterns. Wood striping can quickly rob the engraving of any detail. When shopping for wood to laser engrave, choose one that has minimal streaks and a smooth, consistent grain.
  • Opt for Lighter Wood: Darker wood usually obscures the laser etching marks, making engraved photos or text difficult to see or recognize. Lighter wood, in contrast, develops a dark and deep burn when etched, giving you well-defined marks for optimal visibility.
  • Choose Wisely on Resin Content: If you want a darker burn, opt for wood that has high resin content like Cherry or Alder wood. If you’re looking to leave a minimal burn for a specific application, you’ll want to go for wood with lower resin content.

Here is a list of some best woods that could be used for laser engraving:

  • Alder –It features light color, has a supple texture, and has minimal streaking. Make Alder your top choice for laser engraving projects.
  • Cherry – A blonde cherry wood has a high resin content and is typically light in color. Although it has high levels of streaking, cherry is still an excellent choice for many laser etching projects.
  • Maple – This is an excellent wood for engraving photos. It has light streaking, burns dark most of the time, and is light in color.
  • Basswood – It is a soft and workable wood that’s lightweight, making it good for easy and quick engraving.
  • Balsa – It is a much softer wood that’s good for engraving with a laser machine but has a coarse texture. The heartwood is reddish-brown, while the sapwood is off-white or tan. It’s not very lustrous but can stain and finish well.
  • Plywood – Two types of plywood that are good for laser cutting are birch and bamboo laser plywood. Like maple and cherry, birch is a dense but easy-to-use hardwood that’s readily available. It’s great for beginners looking to get into laser cutting because it cuts smoothly and reliably. If you’re feeling more adventurous, bamboo ply board may be an option. It’s a dense wood grain that has a fine, delicate look when engraved, making it a great candidate to work with.

2) Choosing the Best Wood for CNC Routing

Similar to wood for laser engraving, there are also many factors to consider before deciding which wood to choose for your CNC routing project. And here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Appearance: Appearance also matters cause a good piece of wood for your routed wood signs should have as a clean appearance as possible. Does the wood have mold or marking which will reduce your purpose?
  • Wood wrapping: wrapping is different from the flatness of the wood. This is generally caused by the amount of wet in the wood and the drying process of the wood. There are different kinds of wrapping ( bowing, crook, and kink).
  • Cup: A bow along the width of the wood.
  • Twist: A displaced wrapping that is not even across the wood.
  • Knot: Loops can be a quality and blessing or your worst nightmare. Consider the knots on the wood. Will they be in the place where you are going to be routing? Do the knots have splits? If so, they can fix it with resin?

And here are some of the best woods we recommend for CNC routing projects:

  • Cherry – Easiest wood for CNC routing and best option for beginners. It is hard, durable, resistant to rot and decay, and has a pretty good ability to withstand shock. It’s also easy to carve, cut, and mold. It has a reputation for being easy to work with due to its versatility.
  • Walnut – Best wood for CNC carving. It cuts well. If you have a sharp bit, then cutting through a walnut is like passing a hot knife through butter. Another great feature of walnut is that it is not really known to burn while routing. However, Walnut dust can be highly irritating, so be sure to protect your eyes.
  • Cypress – Best wood for CNC sign making. Cypress wood is extremely soft, and a lot of woodworkers will tell you that this stuff carves like butter. It also holds up extremely well outdoors. It is a decay-resistant wood.
  • Poplar – Best cheap wood for CNC routing. Poplar is widely available, cheap, and leaves behind a lot of fuzz. Poplar will take paint really well, so if you’re working on a project that you’ll ultimately want to paint, poplar might be your choice of wood.
  • Birch – Best plywood for CNC routing. Birch is a stiff wood with light color and wavy grain. When working with birch, you should go slow and take shallow passes. If routing in one direction causes a lot of splintering, turn the board around and go in the opposite direction. This hits the grain from a different direction. The splintering is caused by the bit digging into the grain. Going the other way stops that.

Part Five: Best Engraving Tools for Wood

To fully realize a creative design, it’s important to find a perfect tool that meets all demands. Thus, it would always be worthwhile to spend lots of time on available product options on the market. And there is no one-for-all solution for all different projects and purposes.

Questions To Ask Before Choosing Engraving Tools

And here are some of the questions you might need to consider asking yourself before making the final decision.

  • What’s the engraving machine for? Are the engraving machines for your personal DIY hobby or projects of your clients? Would the project require more details? Would your project involve 2D engraving or 3D engraving? If you just want to do wood engraving for fun, a consumer desktop laser engraver would be all right.
  • How often would you use the machine? If you engrave on wood quite often, you might consider spending more money to get a durable machine with less chance of error.
  • What level of accuracy would you need? For different purposes of your projects, you might need totally different engraving solutions. Though a CNC router is good at 3D carving, a laser engraving machine for sure would hands small details better than CNC routing machines.
  • What’s the size of the wood you engrave? Does your wood engraving project involve a large workspace size? Is a home engraver big enough and meet your demands?
  • What’s your budget for the project? How much would you like to pay to get the engraving tool?
  • What’s the minimum power for the engraving machine? For different woods and wood thicknesses, you would need different power settings to get the job done. It’s important to make sure the machine would meet your requirement for minimum power.

Best Wood Engraving Tools for DIY Uses & Small Business Owners

There are many machines on the market for engraving on wood with different price ranges and performances. A regular engraving machine for professional users might start at over a thousand dollars to million dollars depending on the function settings and quality levels. Taking laser engraving machines as an example, the high-end fiber laser cutting machine might start at over 10 thousand dollars to million dollars. The middle-end CO2 laser engravers would start at about a thousand dollars to 10 thousand dollars (Check more details and comparison of different laser engraving machines in the previous post “Which laser cutter & engraver to buy?“). As we do not have much experience and knowledge of industrial engraving machines, we would focus on some desktop household consumer wood engraving machines.

Best House Desktop Wood Laser Engraver Machine

For household DIY engraving on wood, TTS-55 is one of the best laser engraving machines on the market. The laser engraver uses advanced LD+FAC laser tech to get a 0.08mm laser spot for extra cutting capacity and accuracy. Instead of using a single motor, it uses two stepper motors on Y-axis to ensure faster engraving speed, more stable movement and higher precision. Its original engraving workspace size is 300mm*300mm and with an extra extension kit, the size could be expanded to 420mm*400mm. Its open space design allows users to lift it up for engraving on larger wood pieces. The latest 32bit chipset enables users to add extra functions and features including a fire detector, external end-stop switch, etc. The chipset also allows the machine to be connected and controlled by Wifi and a mobile phone APP. If you are a DIY enthusiast of wood engraving but do not want to spend much time practicing skills, TTS-55 is definitely the best engraving tool to use.

DIY Laser Cutter Machine Powerful Desktop Hobby Laser Engraver for Small Business

Click to Learn More

DIY Laser Cutter Machine
DIY Laser Cutter Machine

Best Wood CNC Router Machine

As mentioned above, a laser engraver could only work on 2D printing, thus for the 3D carving project, a desktop CNC router would be a better option. Compared with other CNC routers with rack rail motion systems, CNC 3018 Pro uses a leadscrew and two rods for faster and more smooth movement on X-axis which also ensures more accuracy. What’s more, the blade head is replaceable and could be switched to a laser module and turn the machine into a laser engraving machine. More information on this desktop CNC routing machine could be found by clicking the link below.

CNC Router Wood Engraving Machine CNC 3018 Pro

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CNC Router Machine for Engraving On WooD
CNC Router Machine for Engraving On Wood

Conclusion

Engraving on wood might be the most popular hobby in the world but not as easy as you imagine. First of all, you need to find some great ideas for your project, and finding the design file is also a challenging job. Even with the best engraving design file, you should also consider what technology should use and which engraving tools are needed to get the job done. This post provides some sources and tips for engraving on wood and we hope it could help and make things easier for you. If you have any good suggestions, please do not hesitate to leave us a comment and send us an email to share your experience with us.

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