How to Engrave Metal

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Engraving is the process of etching a design into an object such as wood, glass or metal. Engraving metal is often used to personalize gifts with a special message, mark ownership of an item or to create a custom design. Engraving is can be done with high priced tools, or it can easily be done for a low cost at home. Metal engraving only takes a few supplies purchased from the local craft or hardware store.

Things You'll Need

  • Wax
  • Bowl or pot
  • Metal sheet pan
  • Nail
  • Safety goggles
  • Acid etching ink
  • Wooden craft stick

Melt the wax in a sauce pan.Stir every few minutes until it has a smooth consistency. Or melt the wax in a microwaveable container on high for 30 seconds. Stir the wax, and continue to microwave in 30 second increments until the wax is smooth.

Dip the steel in the melted wax. If the steel is too large to dip, pour the wax over the section that will be engraved. The wax will protect the steel and help contain the acid.

Lay the wax covered steel on the sheet pan. Allow the wax to harden to it's original consistency. This will take a few hours.

Engrave the message with the tip of the nail. The message will be written in the wax, and the tip should be scratching the surface of the steel.

Put on the safety goggles to protect your eyes from acid. Squeeze the acid over the wax, covering the engraved area. Allow the acid to sit on the wax for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Use the wooden craft stick to remove the wax.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a stencil to trace the outline with the nail. Have someone with good handwriting do the text.
  • Work in a well ventilated are to avoid breathing in the fumes from the acid. If acid gets into the eyes, rinse immediately with cool water, and call a doctor.

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