Using a laser with stained wood

Has anyone done this before if I let the stain dry then use a laser on it would it light on fire? The reason I ask Is I got someone who wants a laser engraved sign but also wants it stained also. Thoughts please

Not if you use a water based stain, perhaps not suitable for an outdoor sign.

Is there any reason you can’t stain after it’s laser engraved? Does the stain affect the colour/appearance of the engraving?

As long a sthe stain has had time to dry it should not be a problem since what we see in stained wood is simply a pigment that has collected in the wood’s grain. If anything were to light up your afternoon with excitement that is related to the stain, it would be the petroleum (mineral) spirits that are the vehicle for the pigment. once things are fully dry that vehicle has evaporated and the remaining pigment is in rather small quantity.
That being said I would make a point of having good exhaust and/or ventilation if you laser stained wood since the composition of the pigments can vary and metallic dryers are often used in the formulation of the stain solution. You certainly dont want to inhale that stuff.

Staining afterwords if you rub the letters at all it spreads this charcoal all over your piece


I’ve laser-etched projects after staining a number of times on my Epilog, no trouble at all. I’d imagine that as long as you have decent ventilation, it’d work just fine for lower power levels as well.

Baltic birch ply, with minwax oil-based stain and lacquer topcoat, no fill.

Minwax water-based stain with lacquer topcoat, black acrylic fill.

wow that’s looks really as long as I have dried it out and have proper ventilation I should be good to go right?

Thanks! I can’t say your results will necessarily be the same as this, I’m using 30W here instead of 5, but I don’t see any reason it should be much different. You will likely get more darkening in the lasered area, but should be equally crisp and sharp. :slight_smile:

I have been able to see no difference at all between engraving stained and unstained wood, or the type of stain involved.

As always, when you’re playing with this kind of thing, keep your fire extinguisher handy! I keep a windex-type sprayer bottle next to my laser for that purpose, full of tap water and set to “mist.” It’s great for when you get just that tiny little flame going behind your work, but don’t want to wreck the project. Just give it a little puff of mist and the flame goes right out again. I have a 10lb CO2 unit on the wall also, but that’s for real “oh s**t” situations, and I’ve been fortunate enough to not need that so far. Likely will happen eventually, though, that’s a lot of heat to be playing with. Be prepared!

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ive done a lot of buring with my 2.8w laser and never had those flame issues lol but for worst case scenarios I will have it there

Yeah, I’m not sure if it will be any kind of issue at all with a smaller laser. I’ve only had it happen a couple times myself, and in both cases there it was in 1/4" plywood, which requires maximum power and a slow speed on my 30W unit. I strongly doubt you will see anything at all, but always better safe than sorry.

Worst case here, when I say “flaming”, I mean that you’ll see something like a candle flame that survives for a few moments behind your beam point. You don’t exactly have to put out an oil refinery here. You can actually just BLOW it out 99% of the time. The water mist bottle is just a sure kill. :slight_smile:


I hope this thread isn’t completely dead and you still check this site from time to time.

I have been trying replicate the stain and laser etching method you have shown in your first picture of this post. Also similar to this below.

I have used minwax oil based stain (minwax stain on a piece of poplar and etched off designs with a 120W laser on a power level of 15%. I know it safe to use burn this stain after drying because the MSDS sheet shows the only thermal decomposition chemicals are CO2 and CO.

However, after burning the wood stain off the wood beneath is burnt from the laser. The only way to completely remove the dark ash is to sand within the design to get down to the unburnt/unstained wood. I usually end up sanding away some of the stained portion as well in the thin areas and ruin the crisp look that you have in your pictures.

Can you go into some more detail on your process to get that crisp look with no burn marks within the design?

Micheal do have any updates on your project too?

Thanks guys!