Laser Cutting Into Wood: 2 Ways to Prevent Getting Smoky Edges

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Laser cutters are great for engraving designs and letters into wood. Most lasers rely on a CO2 laser source that runs on 30 to 120 watts. The laser sends off a beam of light that is responsible for cutting into the material, so you get high precision results efficiently. When engraving wood, you have to be careful with the laser cutter. If the power is set too high or if the beam of light is too strong, the laser will end up creating a smoky effect on the edges of the engraving. Here are 2 ways to prevent that so that you'll get clean lines instead.

Increase or Decrease the Power of the Laser

Although you may be tempted to jump right into the project, make sure you perform several test cuts first on the material because you run the full job. From the test cuts, you can tell how deep the laser cutter can cut without creating a smoky edged effect. Depending on what the engraving is for, you may be able to adjust the power of the laser to get the depth of engraving needed without burning the wood.

Make sure you do the test cuts on the same type of wood that you'll be using for the project. Different types of wood respond differently to lasers based on their hardness and porosity, so you'll get different results if you perform the test cuts on just any scrap piece of wood you have lying around.

Use Masking Tape

If the depth of the engraving needed requires a high-powered laser, then you should consider taping masking tape overtop the area of the wood that is being engraved. The masking tape will protect the edges of the wood from being stained with that smoky effect, but it will not decrease the power of the laser much at all. In fact, you might even be able to increase the power of the laser cutter.

After you are done engraving, simply peel the masking tape off. Just to confirm that this masking tape technique works well with the laser cutter that you have and the type of wood you are using, make sure you do a test cut.


If you're not comfortable with performing the engraving yourself, there are plenty of professional laser cutting services around. Look for a professional who has experience in working with the type of wood you have chosen for the project in order to get the best results possible.