What Is The Best Wood For Laser Cutter?

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By Rayhan Sarwar

This blog post is about the different types of wood for laser cutter. The type of wood can change how well it cuts, and what kind of material you need to cut it with. Different woods will also have slight variations in their finish after the laser has finished. If you’re looking for a specific look or need something more durable than other types, this article should be helpful!

Different Wood for Laser Cutter

There are different types of woods are used for laser cutting depending on various factors. Let’s discuss in detail below:

Oak Wood for Laser Cutting

A wood that deserves special mention is oak wood. Oak wood is one of the most popular types of wood for laser cutting because it takes finishes extremely well and provides a smooth surface after being cut. This type of wood works best if you are looking to engrave on wood rather than cut it with a laser, which means that the wood needs to be relatively thin, or else it will not respond well to the laser beam.

Generally speaking, thicker pieces of woodwork are better for wood laser cutting because they absorb heat better, which helps keep the wood from burning while processing.​

Maple Wood for Laser Cutting

Another wood that can be used for laser wood cutting is maple wood. This wood is a very dense wood and as such is perfect for intricate designs because it holds up well under pressure. Another advantage to using maple wood in a wood laser cutter is that the wood does not warp as easily as other types of wood which means it won’t need as much finishing after being cut.

The downside to maple wood, however, is that it doesn’t tend to engrave or burn very well with a laser. So it’s best suited for cutting projects where the design will only be burned into the surface rather than engraved. Maple wood has an extremely high burn resistance. This means even if you set your laser’s power really low you might still fill see black lines where the wood was burned to that depth.

Walnut Wood for Laser Cutting

The wood for wood laser cutting that has become very popular is walnut wood. This wood takes finishes like a dream and holds up well to the heat generated by wood lasers. This means it doesn’t warp or burn as easily as other types of wood.

This makes this wood perfect for wood laser cutters in that the heat will not discolor the wood like other types such as maple, cherry and oak do. For anyone who wants to use wood in their finished project rather than engrave on it, walnut wood is a fantastic choice because it holds up well under pressure and looks beautiful after being cut.

Poplar Wood

Poplar wood is a wood that makes a great wood for laser cutting. Typically it has a wood density of around 52 pounds per cubic foot. This wood typically weighs about 20-30% more than basswood or balsa wood types making it ideal as a material to use for laser cut parts.

Cherry Wood

Another option for wood for laser cutting is cherry wood. Cherry wood typically ranges from 55-85 pounds per cubic foot and as such, is closer in its weight properties to poplar wood than other wood types that are commonly used for carving and craft hobbyist type projects including basswood and balsa type woods which typically have densities below 50 pounds per cubic foot.

Balsa wood or Basswood

If you are new to woodworking or woodcutting using a laser cutter, it might be best to start out with a wood type that wood laser cutting companies recommend as being easy to work with such as balsa wood or basswood. These types of wood are inexpensive and can create nice results if the wood doesn’t burn up under the heat of the laser beam.

Once you have more experience – which means not burning up your scraps – you may want to try more advanced wood types like maple or walnut. Just make sure you do some research first on what other hobbyists recommend before making your decision.

Mahogany Wood for Laser Cutter

Mahogany wood is a wood type that wood laser cutters use again and again for wood cutting projects. Some woodworkers find it has some unique properties that make it ideal for woodworking, both as part of decorative pieces or useful objects found around the house. One unique characteristic of mahogany wood is its density which is lower than balsa wood making it easier to work with on an entry-level project.

Beech Wood

Another common wood type used by companies offering laser cutting services is beech wood . ​This type of wood does tend to warp more easily than other types of wood on the market.

But this can actually make finished products look better on occasion because rather than warping outwards, any slight warping will appear like a wood wave effect that can be both attractive and unique to woodworkers who want to add a special look or touch to their finished wood laser cut products.

Beech wood tends to have a density close to white pine at .43 pounds per cubic foot with an average humidity of 7% so it holds up well when exposed to the elements or high humidity.

Pine Wood for Laser Cutting

One common wood type used by many hobbyists is pine wood because it’s easy on the wallet and while more expensive than balsa, basswood, and other cheaper woods. It doesn’t cost an arm and leg as maple does. Another positive for this wood type is that you can find it at most home improvement or hardware stores which means you don’t have to waste time looking at small specialty shops.

Hickory Wood

Hickory wood is another wood type that wood laser cutters use to get the job done. This wood typically has a density of around 0.4 pounds per cubic foot which makes it just slightly less dense than mahogany wood and about double the weight of balsa wood.

It’s not easy to find at most hardware stores but can be found online easily enough and if you look for this wood in home improvement shops, chances are high you will find someone trying to unload a surplus of project pieces.

Best Wood for Laser Cutter

All wood is not created equal.​ Some types are more likely to crack, peel, discolor or go up in flames than others. The best wood for wood laser cutters is hardwood. This means that the tree that produced the wood grows within a very short distance of where it fell (generally speaking) before rotting away completely. Softer woods tend to be more likely to crack, peel and dry out over time which eventually leads them to break.

Wood for wood laser cutting is the best wood that takes finishes well, holds up well under pressure, and doesn’t warp or burn as easily as other types. The wood you use in your wood torch cutter depends very much on the type of project you are working on. The most popular wood for wood laser cutters is walnut wood, due to its perfect combination of properties.

It’s beautiful, strong, and burns evenly without leaving behind dark burn marks. However, any hardwood will do the job just fine. This includes cherry wood, maple, oak, and especially mahogany! When it comes to choosing the best wood for wood laser cutting, keep in mind what type of project you are about to undertake so that you can choose a wood that will help you visualize the finished product as best as possible.

Laser Cutter For Wood

Wood Density for Laser Cutting

In general wood density, also known as specific gravity, is a measure of the weight of wood compared to its volume. Wood density varies from species to species and has a large effect on the usability of the wood for laser cutting. Basswood and balsa wood have one of the lowest wood densities out there, which means they are lightweight, soft, and easy to cut with a typical hobby laster cutter.

These species can actually tend to burn or char when a powerful laser beam hits them if they are being used in an engraving application. This is due to some water content in these woods causing vaporization on contact with enough heat from the laser. A wood density of 0.4 or less is generally considered to be too low for wood laser cutting.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some species like oak and maple can have wood densities that are more than double that of basswood or balsa wood. These types of wood will burn/char on a laser woodcutter just as easily as basswood, but they’re denser so there’s more material to remove with each pass.

When these types of wood are used in laser woodcutters you need to add an extra pass or two because of this increased heat absorption and charring. Woods that fall between basswood’s density and oak’s density generally work best in wood laser cutters: for example poplar wood, redwood (aka mahogany), padauk wood, purple heartwood.

Wood Grain for Laser Cutting

Another parameter to consider is wood grain, or how the wood cells are aligned in relation to the wood’s length. Wood with straight grains works best for wood laser cutting compared to wood with highly figured or curved grains. The more complicated the grain of a piece of wood, the harder it will be to remove material evenly during engraving/cutting processes.

Where to Buy Wood for Laser Cutter?

There are wood suppliers and wood manufacturers that will custom cut wood to your exact requirements. Check online to see what’s available in your area for wood for laser cutting or inquire with local woodworking stores/suppliers about turning services.

If you’re buying wood that comes in a random shape like a beam, dowel rod, or another piece of wood not intended for laser cutting, one option is to use a woodturner who can cut the wood into the shapes you need. You may still want to buy from a supplier since they should be able to get wood pieces that meet specific criteria like straight grain, tight grain (no irregularities), and consistent color throughout (if colors matter).

What Type of Wood Should I use?

The wood species that works best for wood laser cutting depends on the specific project and what wood properties are desired: wood color, wood density, grain direction, and more. For example, wood with highly figured/curved grains might work well in certain projects when it’s cut along the curved grain direction instead of against it.  But this same wood might not work very well in other projects when all you want is straight-grained stock.

Wood suppliers can usually recommend the best type of wood for your application or may have samples available upon request to help you choose the right wood grade.

Laser-cutter Requirements for Different Types of Wood

Once you know what type of wood works best, you need to make sure your laser cutter will have no issues with a specific wood type. For example, maple wood has a wood density of about 0.74 while oak wood has a wood density of about 0.58. Both of these wood types require the laser beam to have enough power at the focal point of the lens in order to remove enough material during cutting cycles. As maple has a higher wood density it requires more power from the laser nozzle.

The majority of hobby-level CNC laser cutters and laser cutters may not be able to handle wood densities higher than 0.4 since most tend to operate at about 20w – 30w which is generally not up for wood densities over that (20w – 50w is ideal). You’ll likely need an industrial wood laser cutter to have any success with wood densities above 0.4.

Another common problem wood hobbyist woodworkers have when trying to cut wood is fire/charring of the wood near the focal point of the lens due to wood density or wood grain, which is another reason why it’s important to use industrial-grade wood at a specific power level in order for wood lasering to produce good results every time.

Wood with the complicated grain can also leave charring on your project piece if the wood is too dense. If this happens, you might find that increasing your laser power will fix it since it gives more heat energy into each pass – but too much laser power starts causing problems of its own in terms of removing material quickly and wood burning, which can lead to future problems and additional woodworking costs.

Laser-cutting Wood: An Example of Wood for Laser Cutting

Let’s take a look at wood species that work well for wood lasering in the case of basswood vs ash wood. Basswood is usually recommended for wood lasering because it has a relatively low wood density compared to similar wood types like ash or maple, which means you have more room for optimization when trying to adjust your power settings or finding the best setting altogether.

On the other hand, if you want to cut white ash during your next wood project, you will likely need an industrial-grade machine with high enough power levels since white ash has a higher wood density than basswood.

Can You Put Wood In A Laser Cutter?

Yes, wood can be wood laser cut as long as it meets the requirements listed above and you have a wood lasering machine that can handle wood densities and wood types beyond those of basswood.

Can You Laser Engrave MDF?

Unfortunately wood cannot be laser engraved (engraving wood with a wood burner is a different process). MDF, being a man-made wood product, can be wood-engraved or wood burned however since MDF has a flat surface and doesn’t require the same power demands as wood.

As long as your machine can handle wood engraving, you will likely have success when it comes to wood-burning MDF – but if your machine was not designed for wood burning specifically you could see problems with overheating or scorching of the material over time due to insufficient focal point/laser power.

Thin Wood for Laser Cutter

Typically wood that is 2mm or less in thickness can be used for wood laser cutting.

Wood For Laser Cutter: Wood Types To Avoid

There are some wood types not recommended for wood lasering because of their high wood density or high probability of burning/charring. These include wood species like Zebrawood, Rosewood, Bocote, Ebony, and Teak – but these wood types may still work depending on a number of variables including the material type and power level.

Laser Cutter Wood Final Words

laser cutter wood is not an exact science since wood types can vary in wood density and also thickness of wood pieces, which leads to variability in power settings. To avoid costly mistakes when wood lasering wood, start with low power levels before increasing the wood lasering power levels to ensure clean cuts for your wood projects – you can always increase the wood cutting power level if needed.

If you are having trouble determining the correct settings for your specific type of woods, it’s best to consult a professional who has experience using laser cutters with wood.

We hope this blog post has helped you learn more about some of the different types of wood that can be used for laser cutting. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact us! You can also read the following:


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