Best Wood for Laser Cutting in 2021

Introduction to Laser Engraved Wood

Over the past few years, laser engraving has evolved into a more profitable enterprise. It has gone from being used in an industrial setting only to being adopted by hobbyists and small businesses. But out of all classes of laser engravers available, the CO2 laser engraver happens to be one of the most versatile and affordable. This laser engraver class is known for being fast, portable, and easy to operate for almost anyone. With a CO2 laser engraver, you can comfortably work on wood, leather, acrylic, rubber, glass, and even metals. In short, the possibilities are endless with the right CO2 laser engraver in your workspace.

Of all the materials a CO2 laser engraver could engrave on, wood remains the easiest and most prominent of them all. You could create custom signage, picture frames, kitchenware, and so much more. And as a small business, you could make a reasonable profit by acquiring a CO2 laser engraver capable of creating unique and custom designs on wood for clientele. But just as having the right CO2 laser engraver is important, so is matching it with the right wood. People often ask, what type of wood is used for laser cutting? So, in the spirit of learning more about the best wood for laser cutting, here is a detailed rundown of different suitable woods and their features. Bear in mind that the wood types discussed below are not ranked and discussed in order of superiority.

7 Best Wood Types to Laser Engrave

Best Wood for laser cutting

1. Alder

Alder is known for its high resin content, which allows for good contrast. This feature does not in any way interfere with its light shade/tone, as it’s still great for laser cutting. An interesting fact about laser cutting is that the lighter the wood, the better the contrast when cutting or engraving occurs, which can result in the best outcomes. Looking at it from another angle, alder also has a unique natural grain arrangement which makes it soft. A closer look shows that being soft gives it a high affinity for laser beam penetration, allowing for smooth laser cutting. With a 4’’ to 8’’ alder in your hands, the possibilities for unique designs like picture frames and signage are endless. 

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2. Balsa

This is another soft and lightweight natural wood with moderate mechanical properties. Balsa is very popular for making live models of enormous structures like airplanes due to its ease of machinability and high strength-to-weight ratio. With a 50-80W CO2 Laser Engraver, you can conveniently and accurately cut balsa for any modelling design you want to do. A typical balsa has a straight grain arrangement with moderate resin content making it one of the best wood for laser cutting. 

3. Cherry

When it comes to cabinetry and furniture, using cherry is likely the best choice. Cherry is known to be a prominent hardwood, but this does not stop it from being engraved with a laser engraver. It has favorable properties for laser cutting such as low resin content with a straight and regular grain arrangement. So, when it comes to its combination of durability, flexibility and moderate strength, cherry is yet another legitimate option.

4. Hard Maple

This natural wood is very similar to cherry wood, but denser and requires a high power laser engraver. Mind you, it’s a light-colored wood with high resin content and this allows for high contrast when cut. The streak arrangement is also light in color, allowing for intricate cuts. So, if you want dark burns with a high contrast, then you should lay your hands on this wood. You can count on hard maple for all high-end furniture making and hardwood flooring projects.

5. Plywood

The first thing to know about plywood is that it’s formed out of piling thin sheets of veneers on top of one another. Plywood is not natural as it falls right in the category of engineered woods with the grain being arranged perpendicularly. This arrangement makes the plywood light and strong, yet flexible. One fun fact about plywood is that its properties could vary based on the type of veneer plies glued together to make it. Birch plywood and Bamboo plywood are some of the prominent variants and they are good candidates for laser cutting. And you would find this wood useful in floor and light door making.

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6. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)

This is another category of engineered wood. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) is manufactured as a defibrillator from residues of soft and hardwoods. MDFs are generally denser than plywood and require a CO2 laser engraver ranging from 60-80W.

7. High-Density Fiberboard (HDF)

This is the strongest version of all engineered woods. It is similar to an MDF, but with more strength and density. Since HDFs are formed from the combination of wood fibers under high pressure, then a high-powered laser cutter is the right machine for this wood. With a High Power CO2 Laser Engraver, you are good to go on cutting all forms of HDFs successfully. When it comes to making shelves and wall panels, HDF should be considered a first choice. 

Final Thoughts

Not all woods are suitable for laser cutting so it’s critical to know the few that rank among the best wood for laser cutting. So, as you proceed to launch that laser cutting business or hobby of yours, keep these wood types discussed in this blog handy. Do not forget that your quest to get the best CO2 laser engraver can be a lot easier when you patronise a competent brand like OMTech. So, when it comes to affordability, adequate power, and sufficient working space with U.S pre/post sales support, think of no other laser than OMTech Laser!


Rose is a technology enthusiast and a writer. She had the interest to write articles related to technology, software, Mobiles, Gadgets and many more.

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