The Wide World of Wood Engraving Covers Everything From Custom Greeting Cards to Board Games

One of the best ways to show someone you care about them is with a personalized gift. A popular way to accomplish this is to have the object engraved, which makes the object one of a kind and just for them. Wood engraving is a simple and versatile process with many applications. This article will explain how different engraving techniques work, give you some inspiration for your next engraved gift, or even inspire you to make an addition to your own decor.

Wood Engraving Methods

The two main types of wood engraving are laser and hand carving. Each has its own benefits, and they work in two different ways. Laser engraving uses a laser to heat the wood to extremely high temperatures and actually burns the design into the product. This method is extremely versatile and lets you engrave more intricate and precise designs than you would be able to by hand. It is best suited for a crisper look, or if you want to engrave multiple items. When choosing a retailer to perform your laser engraving, be sure to look at ratings for that company on an independent review site, as exemplified at

The other method, hand engraving, is done by physically removing pieces of wood with specialized tools. This creates a more rustic look and takes more time. This method is best if you want to create something entirely by hand or are looking for a new crafting hobby.

Stationery and Greeting Cards

One great use for hand carving is creating woodblock prints. This technique has long been used to print art onto both textiles and paper and dates back to the Han dynasty in China. The technique was brought to Europe around the same time as paper, in the 13th century, and is still in use today by artists and craftspeople.

The process is simple: a design is carved into a block of wood. Then the ink is applied to the carved piece of wood and used as a stamp to transfer the design to paper or fabric. This is easy to do at home to personalize your own letters, greeting cards, or other decorative paper. Affordable wood carving tools are available at most craft stores, and what you can carve by hand is only limited by your skill and patience. With practice, you could carve increasingly intricate designs for your printmaking.

Board Games and Puzzles

Laser engraving is best suited for more complex designs, as it is extremely precise and can make tiny cuts with ease. A custom puzzle or board game is a great gift not only as a decorative item but also gives you an activity you can do together for years to come. Wood board game pieces are extremely attractive and durable. Engraving them, you can incorporate specific details custom-made to suit the recipient. Although most commercial puzzles are made from paperboard and die-cut with a blade, a wood puzzle cut with a laser means that you can cut the pieces into any size, shape, or number of pieces, creating a unique item that doubles as art and activity.

Kitchen Items

Another popular medium for wood engraving is kitchen items. Lazy Susans, cutting boards, and rolling pins are all great choices to be customized. Often, they will have a name or specific phrase engraved, or even an image. This is another great choice for a gift because it is both decorative and functional, and can be designed to go with any decor. A rolling pin, once engraved, can also be used as a rolling stamp for dough, letting you create beautiful customized designs in your baking with ease.

Popular designs include floral, hearts, paisley, and holiday-themed designs, depending on your tastes. If you are considering creating a customized cutting board, consider that certain woods are better suited than others, with hardwood better withstanding being damaged by knives. For laser cutting, this would not make much of a difference but may make hand engraving more difficult.

Signs and Picture Frames

Another extremely popular use for wood engraving is for wall decor. A carved wooden sign could be used either in a home to display inspiring or comforting words or at a business as a functional sign. Depending on your stylistic inclinations, a wood sign may be a more elegant or homespun choice for signage. The browns and beiges of wood are also neutral colors, and so complement many different color palettes.

Engraving a wood picture frame can add an even more personal touch to a photo gift as well. Not only can you add a caption or decorative design to a photo frame, but you can also use them to display pictures from memorable events, such as the birth of a child or a wedding, with its important details like dates and names.

Small Items

Wood engraving is also a great way to make smaller gifts even more personal, so even on a budget you can make a friend or loved one feel cherished. There are many small and functional gifts that can be given out as tokens of appreciation or included in a goody bag after a party. A key chain could be etched with an important date, or a coaster could display a beloved icon like someone’s home state, for example. Customized Christmas tree ornaments are also a thoughtful and inexpensive gift that will be used year after year.

Other small and maybe unexpected engravable gifts can include chalkboards, wood-bound journals, pens, boxes (like a jewelry box or pencil case), or even a luggage tag. Small gifts like these are great thank you gifts, especially for a group like a bridal party or club.

The Sky is the Limit

What you can create by engraving wood is only limited by your own imagination. Almost anything that can be made of wood can also be engraved, so do not feel limited to the ideas listed here. It is a great way to make a gift personal and unique while also being attractive and long-lasting. Whether you are engraving by hand or with a machine, it is the perfect way to leave a lasting mark on someone’s heart.

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