Laser Crafted Masonic Ornaments

My Masonic Lodge celebrated it’s 150th anniversary last night. Made some commemorative ornaments to hand out.
Laser engraved and cut from 3mm Baltic birch ply that was prefinshed with a gloss lacquer.


Im always interested in ideas of designs but also finishes. What does prefinishing do? What does the gloss laquer do compared to linseed oil, or varnishes?

Ok, here’s the break down


  • I use lacquer for a lot of these types of things mainly because it’s quick drying. Also using brush on lacquer allows me to build up a solid coat quick.

  • I use other finishes sometimes, but for things like this it’s about the drying speed and coat thickness. A thick high gloss surface adds good contrast with the engraved area for a light colored would like birch. I typically use polyurethane on things like darker wood because it pops the grain better than lacquer, but does have much longer drying/set times. Also sometimes I don’t want or need a thick high gloss finish.


  • I typically prefinish for several reasons. First is because I use a spray to darken the engravings. Plywood by it self doesn’t engrave darkly, so poor contrast. Prefinishing seals the surface to help prevent edge bleed under the masking.

  • Because I mask the wood before engraving, for laser engraving residue and spray darkening, sealing the wood prevents the grain from raising up when I remove the masking. So I don’t have to re-sand.

  • Lastly, putting a finish over the engraved area can add reflection in the engraved area which reduces contrast.