Burn, laser, tool, CNC, hand wood engraving [5 ways explained]

Hand Wood Engraving And Other Best Ways To Work With Wood 2024 TIPS&TRICKS

Wood engraving offers a myriad of creative possibilities, and in this article, we explore five distinct methods — burning, laser machines, tools, CNC, and hand engraving — each providing unique approaches to this timeless craft.

wood carving 11
Image source: awwinc.com.au

Method 1: wood engraving by hand

Wood engraving by hand (carving) is a traditional method that involves manually carving designs, patterns, or text onto wood surfaces using hand tools.

This technique allows for intricate and personalized engravings, showcasing the artisan’s skill and creativity.

Required tools and materials:

  • Wood carving tools: various knives and carving tools specifically designed for wood engraving.
  • Design template: a sketched or transferred design to guide the engraving process.

Wood engraving process

Transfer the design onto the wooden objects using tracing paper or by directly sketching the outline.

  1. Choose appropriate carving tools based on the intricacy and depth required for the design.
  2. Use the selected tools to meticulously carve and shape the wood along the outlined design, controlling depth and pressure for detailing.

Application and benefits:

  • It allows for intricate and personalized designs, showcasing the artisan’s craftsmanship.
  • Enables the creation of unique, one-of-a-kind engravings tailored to specific preferences or projects.
  • Handcrafted engravings often exhibit a unique tactile quality, adding depth and character to the woodwork.
  • Engaging in hand engraving enhances one’s skill in woodworking and craftsmanship.
wood carving 1
Image source: pinterest.com

Method 2: wood burning

Wood burning, also known as pyrography, is a method of decorating wood using controlled heat to create intricate designs or patterns.

This technique has been practiced for centuries and offers a rustic, artisanal aesthetic to the engraved wood.

Tools and materials required:

  • Woodburning pen or pyrography tool: this tool comprises a heated metal tip used for burning designs.
  • Variety of tips: different tips allow for diverse line thicknesses and shapes, enabling intricate detailing.
  • Sketching materials: pencils or markers for outlining designs before burning.

Wood burning process steps:

  1. Sketch or outline the design onto the wooden objects using sketching materials.
  2. Set the woodburning pen to the desired temperature according to the wood type and design intricacy.
  3. Slowly and steadily trace the outlined design with the heated tip, controlling pressure and speed for varied effects.
  4. Remove the excess wood if there’s any.

Application and benefits:

  • It allows for intricate burn designs, from nature-inspired motifs to personalized artwork.
  • Suitable for various wood types and sizes, enabling customization for different projects.
  • The burnt designs are durable and can withstand the test of time, adding value to woodcrafts and furniture.
  • Engaging in pyrography can be a relaxing and rewarding creative outlet for enthusiasts.
wood carving 2
Image source: pinterest.com

Method 3: laser engravers

Laser engraving involves using high-powered laser engravers with laser beams to etch designs, text, or images onto wood surfaces.

This precise and versatile method enables intricate detailing and customization in woodwork.

Tools and equipment needed:

  • Laser machine: uses laser beams to engrave designs onto the wooden object with precision and at high speed.
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) software: to create and edit designs before initiating the engraving process.
  • Ventilation system: ensures proper ventilation to manage fumes produced during engraving.

Laser engraving procedure:

  1. Develop or import the design into the CAD software, adjusting size and position as needed.
  2. Calibrate the laser engraving machine, ensuring appropriate settings for wood type and design intricacy.
  3. Initiate the machine, which directs the laser beam precisely according to the design specifications, etching the pattern onto the surface.

Application and benefits:

  • Laser engraving offers high precision, allowing for intricate designs and fine detailing on engraved areas.
  • Enables personalized engravings for gifts, awards, or artistic creations.
  • Laser engraving is a faster process compared to many manual engraving methods, suitable for large engravings.
  • Applicable to various wood types and products, including signage, decorative items, and personalized gifts.
wood carving 3
Image source: trybestsm.live

Method 4: engraving wood using traditional tools

Wood engraving with specialized tools involves the use of specialized equipment to carve and create intricate designs on wood surfaces, such as chisels and gouges.

These tools offer varying levels of control and precision, catering to different engraving needs.

Necessary tools and materials:

  • Power chisel: a motorized tool that uses a chisel attachment with a wooden handle for carving designs onto a wooden surface.
  • Dremel rotary tool: a small handheld tool with interchangeable bits to carve, grind, and engrave materials like plastic, wood, and other materials.
  • Router: power tool with a spinning bit used for cutting and shaping wood.
  • Selection of bits or blades: different bits or blades suitable for carving and engraving on wood surfaces.

Steps for engraving wood:

  1. Sketch or outline the desired design using a pencil or marker.
  2. Choose the right tools and bit or blade based on the intricacy of the design and the desired depth of engraving.
  3. Wear appropriate safety gear and secure the wood piece before you start engraving.
  4. Use the selected power tool to carefully carve along the outlined design, adjusting speed and pressure for desired depth and detailing.

Application and benefits:

  • Power tools offer versatility for unique shape options, and various engraving depths and intricacies, suitable for different wood projects.
  • These tools allow for quicker engraving compared to manual methods, aiding in larger projects.
  • Users can achieve detailed designs and patterns with better control over the engraving process.
  • Suitable for both professionals and hobbyists, enabling a range of creative possibilities in woodworking.
wood carving 12
Image source: leevalley.com

Method 5: CNC wood engraving

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) wood engraving involves using automated machinery guided by computer programs to create precise and intricate designs on wood surfaces.

This technology allows for highly detailed and repeatable wood engraving with minimal human intervention.

CNC routers and setup:

  • CNC router: a computer-controlled cutting machine equipped with a spindle and various axes for precise movement.
  • CNC software: use specialized software to create or import designs, specifying dimensions and engraving details.
  • Tooling: install various attachments based on the desired design and depth.

Engraving workflow:

  1. Create or import the design file into the software, setting parameters for depth, toolpaths, and dimensions.
  2. Set up the CNC machine, calibrating the tooling and material specifications in alignment with the design parameters.
  3. Generate toolpaths within the software to guide the CNC machine on the precise engraving routes according to the design.
  4. Initiate the CNC machine, which follows the programmed toolpaths to engrave the design onto the wood surface accurately.

Application and benefits:

  • CNC engraving ensures high precision and repeatability, ideal for intricate designs and mass production.
  • Capable of engraving detailed patterns, logos, or text that might be challenging with other methods.
  • Once programmed, CNC machines can work autonomously, reducing manual labor and production time for small businesses.
  • Enables the creation of identical engravings for multiple pieces, ensuring consistency in large-scale projects.
wood carving 4
Image source: digitalwoodcarver.com

Considerations for choosing the right method

  • Material and project requirements

Consider the characteristics of the wood (for example, cherry wood), such as hardness, grain pattern, and surface texture, to determine which engraving method is most suitable for the right wood.

Assess whether the project requires detailed customization, mass production, or intricate designs to select the most efficient method.

  • Precision and detailing

Evaluate the intricacy of the design or pattern needed, as different methods offer varying levels of precision and detailing capabilities.

Determine the need for consistent and repeatable engravings, considering the method’s ability to maintain uniformity across multiple pieces.

  • Budget and equipment

Assess the initial investment and ongoing expenses associated with each engraving method, including machinery, tools, and maintenance.

Consider the availability and accessibility of specific tools or machinery required for each method.

wood carving 5
Image source: freepik.com

Short review

Engraving by hand: involves manually carving designs using hand tools, offering personalized and tactile engravings that showcase the artisan’s craftsmanship and allowing for unique, one-of-a-kind designs.

Engraving by burning: uses controlled heat through a woodburning pen to create designs, offering a rustic and artisanal aesthetic with versatility in design and durability.

Engraving with laser machines: involves using high-powered laser machines to etch precise and intricate designs onto wood surfaces, offering speed, precision, and the ability to reproduce complex patterns.

Engraving using power tools: uses power tools like chisels or routers to carve designs onto wood, providing varying levels of control, speed, and versatility for different projects.

CNC engraving: uses computer-controlled machinery for precise and repeatable engravings, catering to intricate designs, mass production, and providing efficiency and consistency.

wood carving 7
Image source: digitalwoodcarver.com


In conclusion, the art of wood engraving encompasses a diverse array of techniques, each offering distinct advantages and unique creative possibilities.

These methods collectively celebrate craftsmanship and versatility, catering to both professionals and enthusiasts seeking to transform wooden surfaces into intricate works of art.


What is the easiest way to engrave wood?

wood carving 8

The easiest way to engrave wood varies based on personal skill and preference, but using a laser engraving machine often offers simplicity and precision for beginners.

Is hand engraving expensive?

wood carving 6

Hand engraving expenses can vary; while initial tool costs might be moderate, ongoing expenses are generally lower compared to machinery-dependent methods. So, you can easily get and maintain new skills using hand wood engraving method.

What is the best tool to engrave wood?

wood carving 10

The best tool for engraving wood depends on the desired intricacy; options include woodburning pens, rotary tools, or CNC machines, each catering to different needs.

Is wood engraving easy?

wood carving 9

Wood engraving’s ease depends on the chosen method and individual skill level; while some techniques may have learning curves, practice can make the process more manageable.

Avatar photo

Hello to all lovers of wood products. I have been fond of woodcarving since childhood. I first learned about it at a children’s camp at the age of 12, and since then it has been my hobby. I organized a wood carving club in my area and often meet there with like-minded people. I dream of selling my products as souvenirs and gifts.

Rate author
Best wood for carving
Add a comment