Metal Engraving: A "How To" Guide

Do you want to personalize a special item or gift but have no clue where to start? Perhaps you want to take up metal engraving as a new hobby? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then this blog is for you!

This blog will teach you how to engrave on metal using different techniques such as laser cutting and etching. With a little help from our "How to" guide, you'll be a metal engraving pro in no time!

What Tools Do You Need?

When it comes to engraving metal, you will need a few tools in order to get started. The first thing you will need is a good quality engraving tool. There are many different types of engraving tools on the market, so it is important to do your research and find one that will work well for the type of metal you will be working with.

You will also need a sharpening stone in order to keep your engraving tool sharp. A sharpening stone will help you maintain a clean and precise line when engraving.

In addition to an engraving tool and sharpening stone, you will also need a steady hand and a lot of patience! Engraving metal takes time and practice, so don't get discouraged if your first few attempts are not perfect. With a little bit of practice, you'll be an expert engraver in no time!

How To Set Up Your Work Area

Before you start engraving, it is important to set up your work area. This will help ensure that you have everything you need and that your work space is organized. A clean workspace makes for clean engravings.

First, gather all of the tools and materials you will need. The tools you use will vary depending on the method for which you have chosen to engrave your metal object.

Next, clean off your work surface. It is important to have a clean area to work in to ensure you are able to work safely, but also to ensure that the metal you are engraving isn't damaged during the engraving process.

Once you've cleaned your work bench and arranged your tools you are ready to start engraving!

Which Types of Metal is Best for Engraving

There are a number of safe options for a beginner metal engraver. The most common type of metal used for engraving is stainless steel. This type of metal is strong and durable, making it ideal for all sorts of projects. It is also easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Another type of metal that works well for engraving is aluminum. Aluminum is a softer metal, so it is not as durable as stainless steel. However, it is still strong enough to withstand most engraving projects. It is also lightweight and easy to work with.

If you are looking for a more unique metal for your engraving project, you can try brass or copper. These metals are more expensive than stainless steel or aluminum, but they will give your project a one-of-a-kind look. Brass and copper are also fairly soft metals, so they may require more care when handling them.

How to Prepare Your Metal for Engraving

Once you have selected the type of metal you will be using for your engraving project, it is time to prepare it for engraving. The first step is to clean the metal surface with a mild soap and water solution. This will remove any dirt or debris that could interfere with the engraving process.

Next, you will need to apply a thin layer of metal primer to the metal surface. This will help the engraving tool glide smoothly over the metal and create a clean and precise line.

Finally, you will need to use masking tape to cover any areas of the metal that you do not want to engrave. This will help you create clean and sharp lines without any mistakes.

How To Choose The Right Design

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right design for your project.

The first is the size of the engraving. You'll want to make sure that the design is not too large or too small for the area you're working with.

The second thing to consider is the level of detail in the design. If you're looking for a simple and elegant engraving, you'll want to choose a design that is not too intricate. However, if you're looking for something more unique and detailed, you can go with a more complex design.

Finally, you'll want to think about the overall look of the finished project. Make sure that the design you choose fits well with the other elements in the room or space where it will be displayed.

How To Transfer Your Design Onto The Metal

There are a few ways to do this, but the most common is to use carbon paper. You will need to tape the carbon paper onto the metal surface and then trace over your design with a pencil or pen. The pressure from tracing will transfer the design onto the metal.

Another way to do this is to use a stencil. First, you'll need to secure the stencil onto the metal surface. Then, you can use a Sharpie or other permanent marker to trace around the stencil. This will create a permanent design on the metal surface.

If you are a confident drawer, you may want to freestyle your design. Using a pencil and ruler, draw a light outline of your design onto the metal. This will help guide you as you start engraving. Then, using your sharp object, start slowly and carefully scratching away at the metal following your pencil lines. Remember to go slowly at first so you don't make any mistakes.

How To Engrave On Metal

You have your tools, you've cleared your workspace, selected your metal, and transferred your unique design onto the item you want to engrave. Now comes the tricky part.

Metal engraving can be done in a number of ways.

Laser engraving metal

Laser cutting is one of the most popular methods for engraving metal. It's fast, precise, and produces a clean finish. Laser cutting is rather dangerous unless you are well trained and using the right safety equipment.

Laser engraving machines are also very expensive, so though we work with them regularly, we wouldn't recommend purchasing one if you are looking to engrave a one-off piece or even take up engraving as a hobby.

If you are set on having your item laser engraved, we would suggest seeking out a trusted laser engraving service provider to handle the job for you.

Metal engraving using a Dremel

You could use a Dremel tool to engrave your metal instead. A Dremel is a handheld rotary tool that can be used to engrave metal. It's not as precise as a laser cutter, but it's much safer and easier to use.

It works by using a high-speed rotating bit to remove metal from the surface. Follow your design lines using a lower speed setting and increase the speed as you get more comfortable using the tool.

You'll need to be careful when using a Dremel tool, as it's easy to make mistakes. This method is best suited for simple designs.

Etching metal

If you're looking for a more industrial look, then etching might be the way to go. This method involves using chemicals to remove metal from the surface, resulting in a rougher finish. Etching is great because it doesn't require any fancy equipment or training.

The sort of metal you'll be etching will determine the type of chemical bath you'll need. Steel, for example, may be etched using hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, or sulfuric acid. Ferric chloride and water can be used to etch copper. Ferric chloride can also be used to etch soft aluminium Make sure you cover the parts of the metal you don't want to etch with tape to protect it before submerging it into the chemical bath.

Many chemicals used for metal etching are toxic. Always wear safety glasses, gloves, and protective clothing such as an apron, long-sleeved shirt and pants to avoid contact with these dangerous materials. Inhaling fumes from some of these chemicals can be very harmful, so make sure you wear a mask and ventilate the area well. Never use more than the recommended amount or leave them unattended - always follow the directions on the labels.

Hand engraving your metal

For a more traditional approach, you can hand engrave your metal. This will take longer than other methods, but it's a great way to create a one-of-a-kind piece. This is done using a hammer and chisel to carve out your design in the metal. This is particularly time-consuming and difficult.

The most important thing to remember when engraving metal is to go slowly and be careful. It's easy to make mistakes, so it's better to take your time and double-check your work as you go.

Chiselling metal comes with its own set of challenges - metal is hard and will quickly dull your chisel. You'll need to sharpen your chisel frequently, and it's a good idea to have a few different sizes on hand to make the job easier. Metal can also be difficult to hold in place, so you may need to clamp it down using a vice.

Once you've finished engraving your metal, you'll need to clean up any burrs or sharp edges. You can use a file or sandpaper to smooth out the surface.

Tips And Tricks For Engraving Success

Engraving is a great way to add a personal touch to your jewelry, gifts, or other metal objects. But if you've never done it before, the process can seem a bit daunting. Here are some tips and techniques for engraving on metal, whether you're just getting started or looking to improve your skills.

Selecting the right tools and method

The first thing you need to do is choose the right tool for the job. For small, delicate engraving, use a rotary tool with a fine-pointed tip. For larger projects, an electric engraver will give you more control and produce cleaner lines. If you're working with softer metals like gold or silver, you may be able to use a hand-held punch instead of an engraver.

If you're using a rotary tool, hold it like a pencil and apply gentle pressure as you move it over the surface of the metal. Keep the tip at a consistent angle and depth to avoid producing uneven lines. For electric engravers, follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper usage.

Selecting the right materials

One of the most important things to consider when engraving is the material you'll be working with. Metal is a popular choice for engraving, but there are different types of metal and each one has its own set of challenges. For example, aluminum is a softer metal and will require a different approach than something like stainless steel.

Another thing to keep in mind is the thickness of the metal. If you're working with a thicker piece of metal, you'll need to use a different technique than you would with a thinner piece. The same goes for engraved depth - if you want a deeper engraving, you'll need to use a different tool or approach than you would for a shallow engraving.

Slow and steady wins the race

Once you have the right tools and know-how for your project, it's time to start engraving! When engraving metal, it's important to go slowly and steadily. If you try to rush through the process, you run the risk of making mistakes or damaging the piece. It's also important to work in a well-lit area so that you can see what you're doing.

With these tips in mind, you're ready to start engraving your own unique designs into metal!


To sum it up, metal engraving is a great way to add a personal touch to your metal objects. You can use a variety of tools to engrave your metal. Choosing the right tools, materials, and design for your project will be vital to its success, so think carefully about the method you want to use and do your research.

If you'd like some help engraving a special gift, or you're looking for a professional engraver to handle a bulk order, our team will be more than happy to assist you. Give us a call or send us an enquiry to find out how we can support your next engraving project.

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We offer four levels of metal engraving service

1-hour service for small diamond scratch engravings*
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Getting your items to us

Whatever your metal engraving ideas, we can help. Just send us a few details including the item for engraving and images of the item if possible. We also need to know what’s going onto the item and send us any vector files for pattern or logo work.

Quantity discounts are available on orders over 10 units and more.

Contact us on 0208 958 6111 or email us on .

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