What Is the Best Tool for Engraving Wood?

A man using a rotary tool and chisels to engrave wood.

Many people don’t realize that engraving wood by yourself at home is even possible, yet it’s a satisfying and rewarding hobby that’s easier to learn than you might think… if you have the right tools.

What is the best tool for engraving wood? The easiest, most effective way to engrave wood is to use a rotary tool with specialized bits for engraving. Chisels and gouges are ideal for engraving by hand. Laser engraving machines will provide accurate results for those who desire perfection in their engravings.

While there are several options as far as basic methods are concerned, most home engravers prefer one method by far for simplicity, precision, and ease of use. 

Rotary Engraving Tool

A quality rotary tool is one of the most versatile tools around. In fact, the first rotary tool, by Dremel, was originally called the Multi-tool, an appropriate name for sure.

Although there are specially designed rotary tools just for engraving, an ordinary rotary tool can be used to engrave a wide variety of materials. 

(Learn more about materials that can be engraved here.)

All you need is the right bit, which can be either tungsten carbide or diamond tip, depending on your particular project.

Top Picks

The Original Easy Etcher

This DIY engraving pen tool is comfortable to work with, even for extended periods, as it fits in your hand just as a pen would, allowing you to customize a wide variety of objects with ease.

The 12,000 rpm motor allows you to work at a slower speed for results with fewer mistakes.

Complete with an ergonomic handle for comfort, a light-weight aluminum design, a replacement diamond tip bit and tool, and 10 stencils, this engraving pen is a great choice for beginners and those who struggle with holding larger tools. 

This battery-operated engraver utilizes a diamond tip bit, so it engraves easily on many surfaces including wood, metal, plastic, jewelry, leather, and more.

Wen Rotary Tool Kit

The Wen Rotary Tool Kit includes a 100-piece accessory set complete with various bits, sanding disks, polishing pads, and more, so you’re not just limited to engraving with this multitasker.

Shaping, grinding, polishing, cut-outs, and sanding, all can be done with this handy tool. A sturdy case to hold all the accessories is included as is a special wrench for changing bits.

One of the best features is the 3.5-foot flex shaft extension. 

For intricate engraving work where reduced vibration is needed and for work in tight spaces, simply attach the flex shaft to the tool and attach your chosen bit to the other end of the flex shaft, allowing for flexibility and increased reach.

This kit will allow you to engrave a variety of surfaces, such as wood, plastic, glass, steel, and more with ease.

Uolor Engraving Tool Kit

This kit comes with all the bells and whistles you could ask for in an engraving tool – 24 fun stencils, an assortment of both disks and blades, various bits, and a bonus carbide scriber. 

This deluxe, versatile engraving pen tool set can engrave almost any surface in seconds, including metal, plastic, wood, glass, leather, ceramics, and stone.

Speed may be adjusted from 3,000 to 20,000 rpm depending on the material you wish to engrave.

With 37 bits to work with, including 30 diamond burr bits, the engraving possibilities are practically endless.

Utool Power Engraver

This tool is simple in design yet powerful in ability. Capable of 7,200 strokes per minute, this engraver can tackle most jobs quickly and efficiently.

It is easily adjustable from fine lines to deep grooves for different projects with five depth/speed settings.

The soft rubber grip, ergonomic design, and light weight (only weighs 1.01 pounds) won’t tire out your hand and affect precision as other models might. 

This power engraver can be used to engrave wood, metal, stone, leather, glass, tile, and PVC and comes equipped with four genuine tungsten carbide bits for smooth, long-lasting performance.

Other Options for Engraving Wood

Although using a rotary engraving tool is the most popular way to engrave dates, names, messages, and designs into wood, there are several other methods that can be used, each with distinguishable results:

  • By hand.
  • With a wood-burning tool.
  • With a laser.

Fans of each method will, of course, endorse their technique as being the best, but the truth is that they all can be used to produce beautiful results.

It’s really simply a matter of personal preference and desired finished appearance. 

Engraving By Hand

Not too long ago, hand engraving was the only option available.

Today, many people still enjoy the quiet and satisfaction of chiseling away select portions of wood using only hand tools to create a design.

With a simple set of chisels and gouges, you can create surprisingly detailed engravings, complete with the charm of slight imperfections and evidence of tool work.

Pros:

  • Deep grooves are possible.
  • No noisy machines.
  • Tools have no moving parts and thus, will last a long time.
  • High degree of precision is possible once you gain the required skills.

Cons:

  • Process is slow compared to other methods.
  • Slight imperfections can be expected.
  • Requires skills.
  • Rough cuts may remain visible.

Top Pick

Schaaf Wood Carving Set – This 12-piece set includes two chisels, nine gouges, and one V parting tool, each numbered and labeled according to size.

A canvas roll and protective plastic tips for the tools are included as well.

Made with hardwood ash, European-style handles and alloy chromium vanadium steel blades, this set is ideal for both beginners and those with more experience.

Use the chisels and V tool to form straight lines and the gouges to make either straight or curving marks.

Engraving With a Wood-Burning Tool

If a wood-burning tool, also known as a pyrography pen, is allowed to burn impressions deep enough within the wood, the effect can be quite similar to that of engraving. 

Like other engraving methods, you may choose to try a freehand design, use a stencil, or transfer a premade design onto the wood with either carbon or graphite paper.

Pros:

  • Allows beginners to get a feel of the engraving process.
  • Easy to use.
  • Intricate designs are possible.

Cons:

  • Lines will be dark.
  • Technically not engraving.
  • Some woods will work better than others (more details here).

Top Pick

Walnut Hollow Wood Burning Tool – This kit is great for beginners as it features a simple dial for controlling temperature, a comfort grip, and 11 interchangeable points to create tons of effects and designs.

Best of all, this tool can also be used to add designs to leather, plastics, cork, pumpkins, paper, and ceramics.

Engraving With a Laser Engraving Machine

For those who don’t mind admitting that they are not exactly gifted artistically or who prefer to rely on the precision of technology, a laser engraving machine may be the answer for producing high-quality wood engravings at home.

Laser engravers burn words, drawings, images, and whatever else you can imagine into the wood.

You simply program the machine to “print” a design from your computer, or in some cases, an app on your phone. 

You can purchase small, portable mini models, which will engrave soft materials like wood or leather, for a few hundred dollars or spend $25,000 or more on large versions capable of engraving practically anything. 

Pros:

  • Accurate results.
  • Smooth edges.
  • Speed.
  • Uniform results for mass production.
  • Capable of highly intricate work.

Cons:

  • Many models, especially small versions only work on flat objects.
  • Cuts are shallow compared to other methods.
  • Results lack the slight flaws that are part of the charm of hand-engraved items.
  • Can be extremely costly.
  • Small models cannot be used on glass, metal, stone, etc.

Top Picks

LaserPecker Desktop Engraver – This portable model brings your designs to life in mere minutes. Just download the app to your phone and you’re all set.

You can quickly and easily engrave designs onto wood, felt, cloth, leather, paper, and even fruit peels with this desktop model.

Twotrees DIY Engraver Kit – This lightweight (only 7.28 pounds) engraver sits on a stable frame and is capable of both engraving and cutting.

Engrave images, text, and more up to 30 by 40 centimeters in size on wood, leather, plastic, paper, and bamboo.

Last update on 2021-01-15 at 04:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API