The best wood laser engravers blend your artistic endeavors with powerful design software while saving you time, money, and costly errors. Based on extensive hands-on testing, here’s our top recommendations for wood laser cutting:

Optional 40W Diode Upgrade
Best Diode Pick
Best Desktop CO2 Laser
CNCSourced Rating:
CNCSourced Rating:
CNCSourced Rating:
$1300
$629.99
$4,399
Laser type:
Diode
Laser type:
Diode
Laser type:
CO2
Working Area:
N/A
Working Area:
432 x 406 mm
Working Area:
600 x 308 mm
Laser Power:
40W
Laser Power:
10W/20W
Laser Power:
55W
Optional 40W Diode Upgrade
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$1300
Laser type:
Diode
Working Area:
N/A
Laser Power:
40W
Best Diode Pick
CNCSourced Rating:
$629.99
Laser type:
Diode
Working Area:
432 x 406 mm
Laser Power:
10W/20W
Best Desktop CO2 Laser
CNCSourced Rating:
$4,399
Laser type:
CO2
Working Area:
600 x 308 mm
Laser Power:
55W

I own several laser engravers, and my favorite is the xTool D1 Pro for cutting and engraving wooden crafts

In my opinion, it’s better than my Ortur LM3 and I managed to cut thicker wooden sheets (though I have the 20W version), and the build quality is the best among the current diode lasers. If you’re going for a CO2 laser, avoid the K40s – especially if you’re a fan of Lightburn.

For a CO2 laser I recommend the xTool P2 — it’s the best desktop CO2 laser right now. It’s cheaper and more powerful than the Glowforge Pro, and a better made machine than OMTech Polar or Gweike Cloud Pro.

Top Picks

CNCSourced Recommends

  1. xTool D1 Pro: Best diode laser engraver for wood
  2. xTool P2: Best CO2 wood laser cutter
  3. Neje Master 3: An great value wood engraver
  4. xTool F1: Best mini wood engraver for trade shows
  5. OMTech 80W: Most powerful wood laser cutter

In this buying guide, I’ll break down which laser cutter to get for your exact needs, discuss the key factors to consider for wood engraving and cutting specifically, and answer some common FAQs.

The Best Wood Laser Cutters & Engravers

1. xTool D1 Pro 10W – Best Wood Laser Engraver Under $1000

xTool D1 Pro
My xTool D1 Pro 20W.

Pros

Well-built: best build quality of any diode laser

Up to 40W laser power options: choose between 5W, 10W, 20W, and a brand-new 40W version

Large working area with extension kit to go even larger (936 x 432 mm)

High-quality laser beam

Performed amazingly and diced through even thicker wood in my hands-on xTool D1 Pro test

Cons

Pricier than Neje, Ortur, and other entry-level lasers (but it’s better than them)

The xTool D1 10W is the best diode laser under $1,000, so if you’re able to spend that kind of money I the xTool. I own both this and the Ortur Laser Master 3, and while I like the Ortur, I think the xTool is better.

xTool D1 10W and Ortur LM3 are very similar in performance, with 10W dual laser power, and both allow for WiFi connectivity and control via an iOS or Android app.

Bookmark wooden projects with the xTool
Some wooden bookmark projects I laser cut as a test with the xTool.
Celtic knot wood laser cut design by xTool D1 Pro
This Celtic knot bookmark also cut well, especially considering it’s a delicate design.

But, to separate the two, the xTool is more sturdily built with steel rods and wheels and protected belts, whereas the Ortur LM3 doesn’t protect the belts. The xTool is also slightly larger, and can be extended to 936 x 432 mm with the extension kit.

The xTool also comes in 5W and 20W versions:

ModelWhere to buy it
xTool D1 5WAvailable at xTool store here
xTool D1 20WAvailable at xTool store here
xTool D1 40WAvailable at xTool store here

I personally went for the 20W version, and for laser cutting wood, it absolutely dices through it. For example, here’s a 0.5-inch piece of wood we cut right through in no time at all:

xTool D1 Pro laser cutting 0.5 inch thick wood easily
This is a 0.5-inch thick piece of wood, that my 20W xTool cut through easily.

You can cut 3 mm basswood or acrylic sheets in a single pass, and laser engrave on wood effectively at about 100 mm/s – making it one of the best laser engravers for cutting boards. It’s also perfect for accurate and contrasting portraits, adding a brand or logo, or, if you buy the RA2 rotary add-on, rounded items too.

Overall, if you have the money to spend, either the xTool, or the Ortur LM3, are the best diode lasers under $1000. More a more in-depth test, you can also read my full xTool D1 Pro laser review.

Best diode pick
xTool D1 Pro 10W: Higher Accuracy Diode DIY Laser Engraving & Cutting
4.7
$629.99

And if you need even more power, go for the 20W version (we did!)

xTool Store here
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2. xTool P2 — Best CO2 laser for cutting thick wood

xTool P2

Pros

Powerful 55W CO2 laser in a user-friendly package.

Curved engraving features for wooden spoons, rolling pins, etc.

Cheaper than Glowforge Pro, even with all the accessories added on.

Cons

Materials are expensive on the xTool, and can be bought cheaper elsewhere.

In my opinion, the xTool P2 is the best CO2 laser for woodworkers, crafters, and hobbyists right now. For the price, no other desktop CO2 laser offers 55W power – and no other laser in the price range can cut through 20mm thick basswood in a single pass.

The 24” x 12” work area provides ample space for cutting letterboards, signs, jewelry boxes, coasters, and even using the rotary to customize mugs, rolling pins, and other wood best-sellers for your side-hustle. 

The dual 16MP cameras eliminate setup guesswork by scanning your material and aligning designs automatically. 

Most impressively, the xTool P2 uses these cameras to create depth measurements across uneven, or curved surfaces, so you can engrave perfectly on wooden objects like spoons and bowls. Here’s a wooden spoon I engraved with the P2:

xTool P2 curved surface engraving a wooden spoon

For more info on how this works for laser engraving curved wood materials, I’ve recorded a video on the process here:

Unlike lower-powered diode lasers, the xTool P2’s CO2 laser can cut and engrave all types of wood – from balsa to oak – with precision and speed. It can mark wood darkly when needed, or just etch the surface lightly.

Though the spot size is larger than my xTool D1 Pro, the P2 is still very precise – and has up to 1000 DPI quality (only the Glowforge Pro that I know of has higher quality, and it’s $2000 more expensive).

For example, here’s an intricate slate engraving I tried. It’s not wood, but it shows the accuracy you can create with the xTool P2.

Laser engraved slate bird xTool P2

If you have any repeatable wooden projects, like coasters with brands, logos, or repeatable images on, then the batch processing features will save you hours of time. 

Simply align your design on one of the material workpieces in the tray, click the “Smart Fill” button, and xTool’s intelligent system will auto-align the image on all other workpieces it detects with the cameras. This repeatability also means you’ll have that same perfect alignment on all your projects without errors.

For professional results in woodworking projects of all kinds, the xTool P2 outperforms competitors with more laser power, faster speeds, and smarter software (XCS has grown on me a lot, and I use it more than Lightburn now). It’s the best wood laser cutter in its price range, perfect for crafters, DIYers, and small businesses alike.


3. Neje Master 3 – Cheapest diode laser engraver for wood

The Neje Master 2s Max

Pros

Various size options: and an extendable working area

Can cut fairly deep wood cuts, considering its low power

The Neje 3 Max version has excellent laser beam quality

2 year warranty

Cons

Low power (5W)

No enclosure option from the manufacturer

Aluminum frame is not as sturdy as steel

Often sold out and unavailable

The Neje Master 3 is one of the best laser engravers for wood under $500. You have a variety of size options, and a range of laser modules – though you won’t get the same variety of maximum power that xTool offer.

In the case of Neje 3, the options are Neje 3, 3 Plus, 3 Pro, and 3 Max. These offer you 170×170mm, 255×420mm, and 400×410mm size options for their 5.5W laser. However, the Neje 3 Max provides 590×980mm with an 11W laser beam for about $700. Most Neje lasers also have kits to extend the working area.

The 3 Max’s laser beam has a fantastically small spot size that results in great energy density. In other words, it’s an 11W laser comparable to most other 20W diode lasers. As a result, it cuts thicker wood than most similarly powered lasers, making it one of the best machines for laser cutting plywood under $800.

Neje Master 3 Wood Laser Cutter
Sample project using the Neje Master 3. Source: YouTube

It’s easy to set up and use, with software for either Windows or macOS, as well as Android and iOS apps. The Neje laser itself is compatible with Lightburn and LaserGRBL, so you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues.

Most interestingly, the Neje Master 3 range have a maximum speed of 1000mm/s. My xTool D1 Pro is less than half of that, and it’s considered one of the fastest in its price range – and generally, you’ll only find 1000mm/s in $3000 CO2 lasers. However, the practical engraving and cutting speed is similar to competing diode lasers, so it’s not all as speedy as it sounds.

Additionally, Neje lasers are often out of stock or otherwise unavailable, so they can be difficult to buy. Plus, they’ve already discontinued their earlier Neje 2 machines.


4. xTool F1 – best mini wood engraver for trade shows

xTool-F1

One of the best things you can do as a CNC or laser business owner is get out and about at trade shows. But for that, you need a portable engraver you can easily carry around, rather than a bulky desktop one.

Step forward the xTool F1, a mini laser engraver with a 115 x 115mm working area that weighs just 4.6kg. This model is specifically designed for use at craft shows where you can meet new customers, and quickly engrave custom projects for people to honor their pets, relationships, and families.

It’s capable of engraving up to 4,000 mm/s and with great accuracy. I put the F1 to the test in my review and engraved a cat design onto a wood coaster, trying to replicate a common kind of request you may get at trade events. The result was impressive, with great detail and dark tones, and it took just a couple of minutes to do. 

Result of my laser cutting test on 3mm basswood with the xTool F1.

I then tried out its wood cutting ability on 3mm basswood and found it cut it cleanly in a single pass using 90% power. I didn’t try thicker wood, but xTool claims the F1 can cut wood up to 8mm thick. 

Together, its cutting and engraving capabilities allow you to make some cool projects like multi-layer wood ornaments, particularly if you use the slide extension to boost the working area to 140x115mm.

Aside from wood, the F1 also has a 2W infrared module, so it can engrave virtually any material.

Best Laser For Craft Shows
xTool F1 Portable IR and Diode Laser Engraver
4.5
$1799

It's portable and easy to carry to craft and trade shows, and it's the best laser for on-demand custom laser engraving overall. No laser matches its 4000mm/s speed, and the IR laser makes metal engraving a breeze. I highly recommend the xTool F1.

Pros:
  • Super fast
  • Portable - weighs 10lbs
  • Versatile - diode and IR laser
Cons:
  • Small working area
  • High price
Buy now at xTool here Our Review
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5. OMTech 80W – Most powerful CO2 Laser For Thick Wood Cutting

The OMTech 80 W laser cutter

Pros

High-power CO2 laser

Large work area: ideal for cutting larger wood blocks for crafting

Good value: good price for what you get

Tremendous Z-clearance: you can easily place and engrave and cut place boxes and other tall objects

Optional auto lift and rotary

Cons

Too large for home projects

Are you looking for the best laser cutter for plywood? If so, look no further than OMTech’s 80W laser. It’s also the best laser cutter for MDF, cherry, balsa, and any other of the best wood for laser cutting and other purposes.

I’ve already discussed lower-cost wood cutting machines for crafts, but the OMTech 80W is a powerful commercial machine. It’s one of the best laser cutters for small businesses and small shops, and works far faster than 40W and 50W OMTech variants if you have the budget.

OMTech 80W
Sample project using the OMTech 80W. Source: Reddit

The two-way pass-through system turns into a four-way, giving you even more accommodation for large projects, and it comes with a Ruida control board that’s compatible with the famous Lightburn software, a secondary LCD screen, and increased speed, performance, and cutting power of up to 9mm thick of wood and acrylic materials.

You’ll also get red dot guidance, an adjustable laser nozzle, and a linear rail guiding system that gives you stepper motors for the x and y-axis for efficient power transmission, and higher precision.

Everything in this machine is bred for precision and power, giving you seamless cuts and high-grade designs. However, hardwoods are still a cutting barrier, although you can engrave them.

OMTech 80W CO2 Laser Cutter and Engraver Machine with Red Dot Pointer Autolift Autofocus and Air Assist for Wood, Acrylic and more
$3,699.99

The focus of this machine's design is on size and power, so if you want to work on large-scale acrylic projects, it will easily fulfill demand. 

Amazon here
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02/18/2024 07:38 am GMT

How To Pick a Laser Engraver For Wood Crafts

Diode or CO2?

Both diode lasers and CO2 lasers can cut wood such as balsa, plywood, MDF, and others. The laser’s power, and the type of wood you’re cutting or engraving, determines the maximum thickness you can cut.

Diode lasers can work for thin woods like 1/8″ baltic birch, but you’ll need a more powerful CO2 laser to cut thicker wood sheets. CO2 lasers in the 50W range and above cut wood far faster than diode lasers. However, these lasers cost a lot more.

One last tip: don’t buy an IR laser for wood. They’re weaker and have the frequency to engrave metal — but not wood.

Price

Most diode lasers capable of cutting thin 3mm wood sheets cost under $1000. Diode lasers are cheap, and are excellent at cutting wood, so they’re ideal if you’re starting a new business.

I recommend the xTool D1 Pro range, and I myself opted for the xTool D1 Pro 20W version for my wood cutting. It’s better than my Ortur Laser Master 3 for wood.

For a CO2, expect to pay upwards of $2500 for OMTech machines, and $4,000 for a user-friendly xTool, or $10,000+ for a commercial Boss Laser, Epilog, Thunder Laser CO2 machine.

Laser Engraving MachinePrice (USD)
xTool D1 Pro$699
Neje Master 3$269
OMTech 80W$3,199
xTool F1$1,799
xTool P2$4,399

Wood Thickness and Laser Power

Your laser’s power determines the thickness of wood you can cut with a single pass. Woods that are thicker than ½” are generally not suitable for laser cutting. But the wood thickness you can cut also depends on the type of wood, and laser power.

Diode lasers have lower power in general, however, they are effective wood cutters at their power. The xTool D1 20W and Neje 3 Max can both cut thicker wood in one pass than other 10W and 5W diode lasers.

On the other hand, to cut a similar thickness of wood with CO2 lasers, choose at least 40W of power. These lasers will also cut wood faster than diode lasers.

Work Area and Extendability

You’ll need a larger work area to cut bigger designs out of wood sheets, for example for making larger signs to sell. There are three ways to increase your max working area:

  1. Extension kits
  2. Passthrough doors
  3. Removable floors (engraving only)

Some diode lasers offer extension kits to increase your work area and help you cut larger wood sheets. CO2 lasers come enclosed and can’t be extended, but some have passthrough doors or riser base attachments to put longer material sheets through.

Enclosure and Fume Extraction

Laser cutting wood produces toxic fumes and gas, so I HIGHLY recommend using an enclosure on diode lasers that don’t come with one – or at least keep them in a well-ventilated area.

Popular lasers by xTool, Ortur and Neje offer their own enclosures as add-ons, which are reasonably priced. The new xTool S1 also comes enclosed.

An enclosure allows you to use fume extractors to direct the fumes out a window. Air filters also allow you to cut wood without a fume extractor.

Also, if you’re using an extension kit to increase the work area, check that there is a matching larger enclosure. Otherwise, you’ll need effective ventilation.

Ease of Use

Features like a camera and autofocus are nice quality-of-life enhancers. Emergency stops, pause buttons, red dot pointers, WiFi connectivity, and other features are also nice to have.

Laser CutterWifi ConnectivityEmergency Stop/Pause ButtonAssembly Time
xTool D1 ProYesPause Button30 minutes
Neje Master 3YesEmergency Pause ButtonAround an hour
Omtech 80WYesEmergency Stop ButtonAround an hour
xTool F1YesYesLess than an hour
xTool P2YesYesLess than an hour

Rotary

You don’t need a rotary if you’re only cutting wood sheets. However, if you’re making decorative cylindrical wooden paraphernalia, you’ll need a laser with a rotary add-on option.

All the lasers I recommend on this buyer’s guide support rotary attachments, and very few lasers no longer support rotaries, with rare exceptions such as the Glowforges.

Which woods you want to cut

You can cut woods like pine, alder, basswood, poplar, balsa, beech, cherry, birch, oak, walnut, mahogany, plywood, bamboo, MDF, and HDF. Cherry is a popular choice in furniture-making. For a more in-depth guide on these woods, I recommend reading our guide to which woods to laser cut with.

Few woods aren’t suitable for laser cutting, but these include extremely dense hardwoods and fiberboard.

However, consider factors like the density and resin content of the wood before getting started. For example, Balsa wood is soft and therefore requires less power to cut than hardwoods like Mahogany. There’s also MDF (made from glued wood fibers), which requires a machine that uses compressed air with its laser for optimized cutting and engraving.

Compatibility and software connectivity

Ensure the machine you choose is compatible with your software and computer of choice for seamless workplace integration.

For example, popular OMTech K40 40W lasers are not compatible with Lightburn, unless upgraded, which is a favorite laser software among many home makers. Keep an eye out to ensure you don’t run into compatibility issues.

Laser CutterSoftware Compatibility
xTool D1 ProxTool Creative Space, Lightburn
Neje Master 3NEJE control software and GRBL control software
Omtech 80WLightburn
xTool F1 xTool Creative Space, Lightburn
xTool P2xTool Creative Space, Lightburn

What’s Changed?

We’re constantly updating our recommendations based on our latest hands-on reviews.

Feb 2024 Updates:

  • Removed the Glowforge, Flux Beamo, FSL Muse Core, and OMTech 50W. We now recommend fewer lasers and these are less relevant now in 2024 with the latest advancements.

Other articles you may be interested in:

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Meg Reichenbach

Meg is a writer for both CNCSourced and 3DSourced, and a laser cutter and 3D printer hobbyist who enjoys tinkering in creative pursuits. I own my own lasers, including my beloved Glowforge and more recently the Two Trees TS3 enclosed laser, and I'm interested in applications that highlight useabiity and interactions most of all - even over the DIY parts!

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