How to Engrave Aluminum

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Old aluminum hand engraving is an art form, one that has been practiced for many years. In fact, it is probably one of the oldest art forms of man and known to have existed as far back as the bronze age, between 4000 and 2000 B.C. Today there are many artisans who have perfected the use of aluminum in engravings and in different arts and crafts projects. Even if you are not an artisan you can learn to engrave aluminum easily. You can make some beautiful photograph frames, plaques or lamp shades with a simple aluminum engraving. We will show you how to engrave aluminum in the following easy steps.

Things You'll Need

  • A sheet of heavy medium weight aluminum about 0.05 millimeters thick. (this is probably about 3 times thicker than aluminum foil)
  • Metal cutting scissors
  • Basic clay shaping or clay sculpting tools (you can include the wood shapers here)
  • Hammer
  • Wood photograph frame or art frame
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Small piece of cloth or towel about 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Acrylic gray paint
  • Tracing paper
  • Flat head nails (the smallest ones you can find)

Place the cloth or towel on the table and then the frame on top of the cloth. Place the aluminum sheet on top of the frame and trace around the outer edge of the frame. Leave an inch overlap so you can fold it over the side of the frame. (This aluminum sheeting is just as bendable as aluminum foil, but a little stiffer).

Do the same for the inside of the frame and leave a ½ inch overlap for the inside edge of the frame.

Paint the entire wooden frame with the gray acrylic paint and let dry.

Cut the sheet of aluminum to the outside edge you traced, so that the aluminum can be better manipulated.

Choose the design you would like to place on the aluminum. Vines and flowers work well or just any design that you can think of.

Trace the design onto the tracing paper and then place the tracing paper on the reverse side of the aluminum.

Shape the aluminum--with a round shaping tool press round marks into the aluminum following the drawing on your tracing paper. The aluminum should have little points that tell you what the image is to look like.

Use the shaping tool to push in the aluminum and engrave the image. Be careful not to push too hard as you can break the aluminum. Just push small bits at a time. This type of work requires a lot of patience.

Stain the aluminum--once you have finished your aluminum engraving you can wipe on and then off again, a stain to give it a more antique finish or leave it just as it is.

Nail your engraving onto your frame and you have a beautiful aluminum engraved frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • Engraving aluminum can be fun and the completed items make great gifts for family and friends.

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