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Laser Engraving for Wood: How to Find the Best Settings!

Learn all about laser engraving for wood from how to run a test array on your wood to making a few different projects.

I’ve been having so much fun with my laser cutting machine lately! In my last post about the xTool F1 we went over engraving on metal and stainless steel and today we are diving into wood engraving.

There are quite a few laser machines on the market that can engrave and cut wood, but since the type of wood you are using is going to matter most, we are going to go over how to test your laser settings to get the best results.

If you are here, you either have a high power laser engraving machine or thinking about getting one. The two most popular brands that I have seen on the market are Glowforge and xTool.

Since Glowforge was super expensive (the newer Glowforge Aura hadn’t come out yet), I’ve only used the xTool product line.

Depending on what you want to do and how much is in your budget, there are a few different options including the xTool D, xTool P2, M1, and the newest portable laser system, the F1.

You can read my post here all about the xTool F1 which has both an infrared laser and a diode laser. Different materials require a different laser beam so it’s amazing to have both laser head options available in one tool!

engraving on wood xtool

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from xTool, Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, and I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

One of the huge pros of the F1 is that it is compact and portable so you can do engraving at craft fairs! The possibility of adding personalization to various materials will definitely increase the earnings of your small businesses.

How to Find Your Wood Settings

We are going to go over how to find the engrave and score settings for your piece of wood because, in my opinion, that’s the most important step in getting a clean cut!

There are so many different types of wood that xTool Creative Space couldn’t possibly list them all as references. It doesn’t even depend on the type of wood materials you are using, it will depend on the batch of the wood product and the grain lines and knots in it. 

Take these bamboo cutting boards I purchased from the Dollar Tree. I ran about four different power and speed settings to find the one I liked.

engraved cutting board with xtool f

Then I went and bought more cutting boards at the same store and used the same engrave settings and the same vector file thinking it would engrave exactly the same. Wrong!!

The new cutting boards I bought happened to be lighter in color than the ones I did all my testing on, ugh!

engraving on dollar tree cutting board

So my advice would be if you find a wood that you like and think you will be making a lot of the same woodworking projects, buy a bunch of the wood at the same time so it comes from the same batch.

Once you get used to laser engraving on wood, you’ll figure out the best wood for your needs, but it’s a lot of trial and error.

Don’t expect to purchase a high quality engraver and be able to sell at a craft show that weekend. Take your time and figure out your machine and its engraving process.

Running a Material Test Array in xTool Creative Space

So let’s talk about how to run a material test array. In the last XCS update, xTool made it super easy to design and run a quick test of a bunch of setting parameters.

This is what I do. 

First, insert a rectangle or letter in xTool creative space. While the rectangle is selected, click on Engrave on the right side of the screen.

insert rectangle xcs
xcs change to engrave

Then click on the Array drop-down and then on Material Test Array.

engraving settings on wood

You’ll get a pop up screen. Now you can change the minimum and maximum amount of laser power and speed.

You’ll notice the first screen has a super high speed as the maximum. We don’t need it to go that fast, because wood needs a lower speed to get the fine details.

I like to bracket around the recommended settings by xTool. You can go to their settings here.

Pick the machine you are using and then material. You can see for the F1, then only have basswood listed (which is a soft wood), but this is a good starting point for all kinds of wood.

xtool material settings

Their vector engrave recommended settings for 3mm basswood is using the 10W blue-light laser (use blue light for organic materials) at 100% power, speed of 300 mm/s, a single pass, and 80 lines per cm.

So I changed my test parameters to test at bracket those settings. You can increase the number of columns if you want to do a lot of testing.

I just left it at 5 columns and rows and changed the minimum power to 60% and the maximum power to 100%. Then I changed the speed to test from 150mm/s to 400mm/s.

wood test parameters xtool

The software automatically multiplied the rectangle I had inserted and made each rectangle a different power/speed. Pretty cool, right??

wood test array engraving

If you look at the Object Setting panel, you’ll see that is says “multiple values” which means that each rectangle is set to an individual and power and speed setting.

multiple values xcs

If you want to make sure, you can ungroup the array and click on each individual rectangle. The Power and Speed settings will automatically adjust on the right panel. Just make sure to group back together if you do this!

test array xtool

For some reason, the wording and numbers of the actual array don’t change (not sure if it’s just a glitch), but I make sure to change all of words and numbers to Engrave 100/300/1.

change text to engrave settings

The one thing you can’t test in an array is the lines per cm so you might have to do multiple arrays. I left mine at 100lpc (but you can try anywhere from 80 to 120).

lpc xtool

You can do the same process to make a score test array. I used the letter H for this one and changed my score settings to test from 50-90% Power and 40-100mm/s Speed.

wood score settings f
xtool f material test array how to

Then I save the file as “wood test array” so I can open it up anytime I want to test a new kind of wood.

save xcs file

Size the images to fit in the working area. Click on Framing to see where the engraved areas will be if you want (blue rectangle will outline where the area will be). 

xtool xcs test array settings

Place the piece of wood on the metal plate. Use the focusing knob on the side to line up the blue light and red light. As you turn the knob, the laser system will move up or down so you can line up the red and blue lights right on top of each other.


Click on Process, then Start on the next screen. Close the guard and push the button to start. The test array takes about 30 seconds. I do have a video of all these steps in action, so make sure to watch it at the bottom of the post!

Now take a look at the array and figure out which setting you like best. It might be a good idea to run another test with a narrower minimum and maximum if you want to really fine-tune the end result.

You’ll notice different wood laser engraving results on different wood. 

On this one, I had good results with 93/165/1 and I got burn marks with the slower speeds. I was also playing with adding stain on top, so sorry, the picture might look off!

test engraving laser on wood

If you have an M1 or other larger laser machine, you can purchase an air assist which helps a lot with the burned edges. You can learn more about my air assist testing here.

The F1 does not have an air assist so the ideal laser processing settings are even more important.

Laser Engraving for Wood Tips

I played around with a bunch of different types of wood and also stains and paints. I was trying to get a high contrast on the wood, which can be difficult.

I was hoping I could stain the wood a walnut color after engraving, but you can tell that it just stains everything and it’s hard to see.

xtool test array wood settings
engraving on wood tips

So if you want your designs to really pop, you’ll need to use a lighter wood. After I engraved this SVG file, I just added a top coat of spar urethane and a bottle opener and I liked this look much better!

engraved wood sign

I also tested adding the stain before and after the laser applications. I found better results with applying the stain BEFORE engraving.

If you want to try to engrave on a stain or paint, make sure you have a water-based stain and that it fully dries before adding a laser to it, and make sure you watch it for fires.

I absolutely love how this wood tag came out after I stained it with a vintage aqua stain. Happy Holidays digital file found here.

laser engraving on wood ideas

I also added chalk paint before engraving and had great results with white chalk paint.

The red paint turned out ok. I think thicker letters or a bigger design would look nice with a dark paint background. And then the walnut-stained tag, you can barely see the engraving.

xtool f engraving on wood

There really are so many ways to use wood with your laser engraver once you figure out your perfect settings!

Wood coasters, personalized signs, wood tags, custom pencils, cutting boards, earrings, Christmas decorations, and more!

engraved wood coasters

I’ll talk about pencils more in another tutorial!

wood laser engraving settings
engraved cutting board with xtool f

How to Engrave on Wood with xTool F1

Yield: 1 Engraved Projec
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $1

Make a personalized engraved wood sign with a laser engraving machine.



  1. Run a test array on a spare cutting board as discussed above to determine the settings you want to use.xtool xcs test array settings
  2. Design or upload a vector image in xTool Creative Space. Change to Engrave. Change settings to what you found during the test array.xtool f wood engraving settings
  3. Turn on the F1 and air purifier. Place the cutting board in the work area. Click on Framing and line up the blue rectangle with where you want the image to engrave.framing on xtool Turn off framing.
  4. Turn the focus knob on the side until the blue and red lights are right on top of each other (this focuses the laser).Screenshot
  5. Click Process and Start. Close the protective guard and push the knob on the side to start the laser engraving for wood to engrave on wood machine
  6. The laser machine is pretty fast! It should be done in a minute or two for a small image.xtool f engraving wood
  7. Lift up the guard and admire your new custom engraved wood cutting board!engraving on dollar tree cutting board


See additional instructions in the post and video tutorial for running a test array for the perfect engraving settings.

Recommended Products

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, xTool, Awin, and I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Whew, I know that was a lot, but I hoped that helped in getting started with laser engraving on wood!

If you’d like to save this tutorial on laser engraving for wood for later, simply hover over the image below and Pin it now!

laser engraving for wood

Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!


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