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Laser engraving wood

Laser engraving wood

Wood is a fantastic material to engrave as the Laser produces incredible intricate results to text, designs or logos, and is an environmentally friendly alternative to man-made materials.

The lighter Hard and Soft woods give contrast to the engraving such as Oak, Bamboo, Birch, Olive and Pine which engrave particularly well also veneered Mdf is available in a range of finishes.

Wood can be laser engraved producing a high level of detail and contrast with a clean finish without burning of the surface. We can engrave eco-friendly products, key fobs, signs, gifts, architectural models, from a range of wood types:

  • Plywood
  • MDF
  • Hard & Soft wood
  • Chipboard
  • OSB
  • Exotic woods
  • Cork
  • Veneers

Laser engraving wood produces amazing results. Logos, text and images are all suitable and every detail is reproduced. Wood plaques are becoming a sought-after natural alternative to brass, which needs frequent cleaning and is a higher cost. Wood needs less maintenance than brass. Oak, Ash Mahogany and Birch are popular choices.

Laser engraved wooden signs are easily read particularly if a lighter wood is used and blend naturally into the environment. Wood is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic and metal leaving a low carbon footprint.

Painted or dyed woods give great results and using bright colours produces a high contrast surface to engrave.


Methods of laser engraving wood for a perfect finish:


High-speed engraving

Depending on the type of wood and finish required, high speed and low power can be applied with multiple passes to reduce any residue from the engraving process the laser beam vaporises the material producing a light finish. This is a useful technique when the surrounding wood cannot be sanded or have an adhesive masking tape applied.



Working down the grades of abrasives to produce a smooth finish, a mask can be applied to the wood using an adhesive application tape which is applied to the surface, this prevents any residue building up on the surface of the surrounding engraved area producing a clean finish when removed after engraving.


Sanding the surface

The surface of the wood needs to be as smooth as possible before engraving, this is achieved by sanding the surface to remove loose fibres of wood and uneven areas. The laser engraves the design or text and once the depth and finish are achieved the wood is sanded to remove any residue. Varnishing is the final finish to protect the wood a matt varnish gives a natural finish or danish oil can be used but needs to be reapplied as the wood weathers.


High contrast

A higher contrast finish can be achieved by using more power or reducing the engraving speed as the laser passes over the surface creating more depth to the engraving. Another method of producing more contrast to the engraving is to vector engrave the outline of the design or text, where the laser beam does not cut through the material but scores the surface this produces a two dimensional effect.


Colour filling

Wood can be colour filled in a range of vibrant colours to highlight a design or text, the surface is sanded with abrasives to a fine surface and prepared by removing any sanding dust or contaminants, an adhesive application tape is applied and the surface engraved. Once this stage is complete we use enamel paint specially designed for sign painting, enamels provide superior flexibility and durability. After drying the surface is sanded again to remove any residue, a final top coat of matt or gloss varnish is applied to produce a high-quality lasting finish.


Varnishing types

Polyurethane – this is plastic in liquid form and is either an oil-based or water-based version available in matt to high gloss or stain used on interior signage or furniture. They add slight colour to enhance the wood and show the natural grain pattern

Shellac –  this is a natural resin produced by an insect in Indian and Thai forests. It is processed into flakes then mixed with ethanol and used as a wood varnish. It is a unique material as it can be used as a natural primer, a high gloss varnish and stains wood. This used to be the most popular varnish until polyurethane was invented which has a longer shelf life is more durable and chemical resistant.

Water-based varnish these are just as good or better than the traditional spirit-based varnishes used in the past, used for furniture or interior products. They go on clear without darkening the wood and are recommended for indoor wood only.


Marine varnish

This is a very durable product formulated especially to withstand being exposed to salt or fresh water, in our opinion it is the best varnish to use on exterior wood.


The Process

Material – choose the sign material, wood, acrylic, laminate or metal

Design – we can produce the design or use your layout. A vector-based file format is needed for the laser process

Decide on the best delivery method a flat panel or mounted letters.

Production – The sign is laser cut or engraved once this is complete we carry out finishing


Product branding

As the laser process is eco-friendly with no ink used to create a natural finish, companies are increasingly using this for their wood products. This method of branding gives a strong message to the consumer that the company has a high environmental awareness and the quality of branding does need to be compromised by using a cost-effective process. Branding leads to customer loyalty, consistency and credibility and leads to referrals and returning customers.



Signs guide our everyday life and are essential for communicating direction, advertising or branding a business. Bay & Moor can produce wooden signs to communicate information to existing or potential customers. Sign making using laser technology is a straight forward process but some complexity can arise depending on the style and finish required signs consist of basic elements message, audience and delivery type. Company Signage used externally as street signage or internally to brand a reception, signs deliver a professional and clear presence that makes a company memorable and creates confidence in the brand. Business are choosing natural materials and as many small businesses are on a budget, there are cost-effective options to produce professional results, engraving the text on a birch plywood then vector.


Retail Store Signage. In addition to signage for buildings, retail stores are full of opportunities to make signs, to complement exterior signage also pavement signs are a great way to bring the attention of those walking by and further brand recognition. Once the exterior signage gets customers into the door, they need to know if the shop is open making it clear that a store is open with a sign that encourages people to come in. For retail shops that sell clothing, denoting changing rooms is a must, and colour filled black text on a natural background is an effective way of guiding customers.

Hotel Signs. Because hotels are such a personal experience, warm greetings go a long way toward how people feel in these spaces. Not only are signs a good idea for defining things such as room numbers and floors, but this linen sign will enhance the ethics of a hotel for maintaining the environmental message.


Lasering wood in scientific research Dendrochronology (Tree ring dating)

Co2 Laser machines are being used in tree ring dating for scientific purposes to establish isotope ratios between growth rings as wood is an ‘anisotropic material’ meaning it has a different density along the grain than across it, so the laser is used to ablate the surface to create a topology.

Early wood is burnt away deeper than later wood as it has less density leaving the higher density wood on the surface. This process can be used to create prints of trees that are thousands of years old and are considered to be artistic projects, telling the story of that tree bringing art, culture and heritage together.

Spacing between the tree rings can be used to date trees, and this process can show new insights into climate change, softer woods are easier to process as the laser beam has more effect on the wood with less power needing to be used.

As climate change begins to have significant impacts monitoring their magnitude, direction will be required to adapt forest management practices to these effects. Dendrochronological methods are a powerful and complementary method to demonstrate detailed, annual resolution data on forest growth and stand dynamics.

Laser ablation of tree rings provides a rapid and sensitive method for investigating element concentrations and fluctuations in the environment along time profiles from birch and pine trees, this has been used by scientists in a highly polluted area of Russia and a slightly polluted area, at the Norwegian-Russian border showing that single trees behave rather individualistically in terms of heavy metal contents as observed in the yearly growth rings.

Wood is a fantastic material to engrave as the Laser produces incredible intricate results to text, designs or logos, and is an environmentally friendly alternative to man-made materials.

The lighter Hard and Soft woods give contrast to the engraving such as Oak, Bamboo, Birch, Olive and Pine which engrave particularly well also veneered Mdf is available in a range of finishes.

Date: 9 July 2021

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    Bay & Moor
    Unit 1 Dart Mills
    Old Totnes Road
    TQ11 0NF
     01364 208800

    [email protected]

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