Half of the fun of buying a new piece of equipment is learning all about it first. Thinking about all the DIY projects you will be able to make and what you plan on doing. Now that laser cutters for wood are becoming more popular one of the first questions that comes to mind is what is the best wood for laser cutting?
In general, the best woods for laser cutting are Basswood, White Pine, Alder, Cherry, Oak, Baltic Birch Plywood, Balsa and Cork. Most laser cutters prefer soft woods that do not have a distorted, tight hard grain pattern. How well each species cuts depends on the power of your laser cutter along with thickness, and speed.
Below, I will explain in-depth how to select the best possible type of wood for your laser engraving project. I will go over the types of wood that are decent choices for laser cutting.
For those of you who already have a laser cutter I was surprised at the precut selection on Amazon. If you want to get going on some projects right away I recommend these Precut boards for laser cutting available on Amazon. Make sure to check them out.
Tips for Selecting the Best Wood to Laser Cut
Before starting your laser cutting project, make sure to read through the tips that are listed below so that you make the best possible selection of wood.
Take a Look at the Resin Content
The sap or resin content of wood that is selected will have a notable impact on whether the wood burns are darker or lighter. If you are trying to get a darker burn, for example, then you should select a piece of wood with a high resin content.
Alder or cherry are both great options. However, if you are trying to find something that is a bit lighter, then you might want to try using oak.
Understand What Makes Wood Types Different
There several types of wood that are decent options for laser cutting. It is hard to distinguish what the differences are between wood types and how they will affect the result of your project.
Wood Types For Laser Cutting
Here are a couple of different types of woods that you could try on your laser cutter depending on your model.
Softer woods, such as balsa and poplar, can be laser cut quicker with a lower level of power. There will be a smaller contrast if the wood is lighter.
Because veneered wood is produced with real wood on the surface, you can laser cut it just like you can with solid wood panels.
Oak and cherry are usually denser than other woods and require higher levels of power for laser cutting. But, when compared to softwoods, hardwoods offer more contrast when they become engraved.
A decent option for many different laser cutting projects, plywood comes in a wide variety of types and sizes. But, if you select plywood, then make sure to pick an option that is explicitly marketed for laser use like a Baltic Birch.
As mentioned earlier you can check out a wide variety of wood for laser cutting pre-cut on Amazon.
Test the Wood Before Starting the Process
The thickness and type of wood that you choose to cut will have a significant influence on your wood cutting project. Your power, speed, and other laser cutter settings are factors as well.
Even the wattage of your laser and the environment that you do laser cutting in can have an impact on your settings. This is why you should conduct a materials test on a small piece of wood before you begin on a bigger piece.
Understand How the Wavelength of a Laser Affects Wood
The process of laser cutting wood can be completed with a 10.6 or 9.3-micron CO2 laser without any notable difference in processing quality. Wood does not quickly take in the energy emitted by a 1.06-micron fiber laser.
Laser cutting at this wavelength is not recommended. Laser cutting of wood with a CO2 laser results in a squared, slightly-darkened cut edge.
If you choose to begin your wood cutting project with a decent piece of wood that is flat and has a very small amount of imperfections, then you will have a nice payoff in the end. Remember that the thickness that you need to create the result you are striving for.
When you have made all of your cuts and you are satisfied with the appearance of your wood, make sure to use a rag to lightly scrub off any resulting debris. You may also want to protect and preserve your piece of wood by applying a suitable finish. If you used pine read “What is the Best Finish For Pine” .
The straight-forward way to make sure that your project is a success is by choosing the appropriate laser cutter with the most reputable laser cutter software.
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