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View Full Version : Best wood for engraving photos....besides cherry, alder and walnut?



bruce edwards
06-21-2011, 2:18 AM
Hi I am in the Philippines and have searched everywhere for those types of wood and can't find any of those anywhere. Been doing aluminum dog tags and business cards mostly but people want BIGGER pictures than 3.5 x 2 inches. Are there any other acceptable types of wood for engraving photos? If not, what's a good source for 8 x 10 wood plaques in cherry or alder? (not frames) I looked at laserbits site and they don't have 8 x 10 plaques that I could find. I also did a google search but came up with a bunch of China sites with no real info. Thank you

Gary Hair
06-21-2011, 3:43 AM
Bamboo works pretty well but cherry and alder are probably the best. I think walnut is too dark and you can't get any contrast. I'm not sure who will ship to the Philippines, but JDS, and others here in the U.S., have lots of plaque choices.

Gary

Keith Outten
06-21-2011, 6:00 AM
Hickory engraves well.

Michael Conley
06-21-2011, 7:11 AM
I have always had better results with hard maple than anything else but it requires more time to engrave a photo with good contrast than softer woods like cherry and red alder.

Dan Hintz
06-21-2011, 7:37 AM
Anything light-colored with heavy sap will net you a dark burn on a light background. Beyond that, it will run to your tastes...

Mike Null
06-21-2011, 9:17 AM
Dan

What wood would be light colored with heavy sap?

Dan Hintz
06-21-2011, 10:31 AM
What wood would be light colored with heavy sap?
Pine? :D

I don't have a specific answer for this one, just suggesting a general direction. So much is left to taste... how much contrast do you want, how dark of a background can you get away with, how dark do you want the engraving, how detailed does the engraving need to be, etc.

One of these days someone will break down and make a convenient chart that narrows down your choice by selecting tight/loose grain, dark/medium/light color, and so on... but it won't be me.

Martin Boekers
06-21-2011, 10:49 AM
Cherry engraves nice, but does darken with age.

JDS is a good supplier and now they have a "premium" line of Alder, basically it's matched for color
and graining which is better for photos. Most plaques 8x10 and larger are glued up pieces so you can
have a pretty good variance every couple inches. This premium line does a good job to make it
consistant (as much as possible) across the whole plaque, also they seem to have a nicer finish on them.
I use those instead of their regular line now.

If you order $1000+ it includes free shipping. (not certain that covers Philippines)

Scott Shepherd
06-21-2011, 10:55 AM
Maybe we can help you more if we know what you do have access to on your island. If you could list what's readily available, I'm sure someone can pick the good out fairly easily.

Chuck Stone
06-21-2011, 12:49 PM
Dan

What wood would be light colored with heavy sap?

Maple can be that way. Look for white maple with gray/tan sections in it. That will
give you lots of sap when you put it in the laser.

Keith Outten
06-21-2011, 1:27 PM
Dan,

Its not a high sap content its the resin content that makes certain wood species engrave well. Case in point Pine is the worst.
.

Dan Hintz
06-21-2011, 2:05 PM
Dan,

Its not a high sap content its the resin content that makes certain wood species engrave well. Case in point Pine is the worst.
.
Could be wrong here, but isn't wood resin simply another name for dried sap?

George M. Perzel
06-21-2011, 2:06 PM
Hi Bruce;
If you are in the Philippines you should have access to Philippine mahogany-outstanding wood for photo engraving-better than all the others
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Scott Challoner
06-21-2011, 2:23 PM
Hi Bruce;
If you are in the Philippines you should have access to Philippine mahogany-outstanding wood for photo engraving-better than all the others
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

George is right. I have some mahogany veneer that engraves beautifully. Solid mahogany will cut poorly though. You should have plenty of it over there.

Ray Mighells
06-21-2011, 4:07 PM
Luan is called P Mahog. Not a true Mahog but a close relative. The lighter shades with the least red is best. Ribbon grain is distracting. I engrave Luan plywood but I don't try to cut in with the laser. Push comes to shove, black or dark poster paper with a white core works great and is quicker. I've done a lot of experimenting with photos on different materials you can check my photo albums on Picture Trail. There's a link in my bio.

Mike Chance in Iowa
06-21-2011, 4:21 PM
I found Red Walnut to work well with photos. It was a light colored wood with a light grain pattern that engraved nice and dark. It was some scrap wood someone had given me, so I'm not sure where and if it can be purchased in plaques.

I don't know what species of Pine Dan is using for his photos, but I have had poor results (due to the elevated grain patterns) engraving photos on Jack Pine, Red Pine and Eastern White Pine.

I have also had good success engraving photos on African Mahogany, Birch, Maple and Western Red Cedar (you have to pick & choose the wood because of the knots & white splotches can work for or against your photo!) but by far, the best results I have had are with alder. Not sure if Colorado Heirloom ships to the Philippines, but they would be a good source for nice plaques.

Mike Null
06-21-2011, 5:09 PM
Mike

You are correct, pine does engrave poorly as is true of nearly all conifers. Cedar being an exception.

In the case of pine I believe the problem is with the great difference in the spring and fall growth rings. The fall rings are extremely hard while the spring rings are very soft. As a result the engraving is uneven and unsightly.

Mike Chance in Iowa
06-21-2011, 7:54 PM
In the case of pine I believe the problem is with the great difference in the spring and fall growth rings. The fall rings are extremely hard while the spring rings are very soft. As a result the engraving is uneven and unsightly.

I never really thought about it much since engraving Pine was merely a test to see how it engraves, but your theory about the fall & spring growth rings makes sense. I have seen the uneven ridges in cedar too, but like I said, I was selective in what wood I engraved photos on and picked the wood with the least grain pattern.

Bill Cunningham
06-22-2011, 12:03 AM
Depends on the pine. I've had some decent results on pine! You just have to let it dry for a long time before you engrave it.. The image is not a photo, but you certainly get a nice colour change.. I've done photos, you just have to cut back the power a bit, or the image can get very dense.. And, like most other woods, if it's finished, you can wipe off the residue. The major problem with pine is that it's not all that attractive, and pretty soft wood.. Poplar is also a wood that will engrave nicely. Particularly for making tokens and coins..