Hold a manual engraving tool like a computer mouse. Let the handle rest against the heel of your hand, and push it from there. Do not wrap your fingers around the tool or hold it too tightly. If you have never engraved wood before, practice on a scrap of wood before beginning the plaque. Hold the engraving tool low to the wood, cutting across rather than down. Reposition your hand often. If you are carving a curve, turn the block rather than the tool. Keep your engraving tool sharp for best results. To make a plaque, print or draw a template and transfer the design to the wood block. Follow this design carefully when carving.
A woodburning tool is simple to use for lines and lettering. The tip of the tool is very hot during use, so be cautious when working. Transfer the design or lettering to the wood piece with pencil or a ballpoint pen. Hold the woodburning tool like a pen. Gently draw it across the wood surface. Do not apply too much pressure, as this can damage the tool. If any residue gathers on the tool while you work, use 320-grit sandpaper to gently brush it away.
Use paint or a wood stain to decorate the engraving if desired. If the paint or stain is water based, you can thin it with additional water to create a variety of tints. Use a sealant for wood to finish and protect the surface.