How to Hand Engrave Aluminum


Aluminum is a thin metal that's simple to engrave with even the most basic tools. You can use the tip of a ballpoint pen to engrave an aluminum pie tin or a blunt metal stylus with varying size tips for more intricate engravings. Engraving aluminum is a three-step process that you can use to make mirror frames, treasure boxes and all types of home décor projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Pattern
  • Tracing paper and pen
  • Painter's tape
  • Stylus, knitting needle or ballpoint pen
  • Newspapers or mouse pad
  • Find a pattern you'd like to engrave onto a sheet of aluminum. You can cover wooden boxes and frames with your hand-engraved metal or cut out an engraved metal shape and hang it as an ornament. Disposable aluminum pie tins are easy to engrave and may be cut to form any type of home décor item.

  • Copy the pattern onto tracing paper with a pen. Tape the paper onto the face of your aluminum so that the pattern fits completely onto the metal. Painter's tape works best for this project as it removes cleanly without leaving residue. Place your project on top of a stack of newspapers or a large mouse pad. You need a surface that will give a little as you apply pressure to engrave the aluminum.

  • Trace over the lines of the pattern with a stylus, knitting needle or ballpoint pen. Your engraving tool should have a blunt end; your objective is to press into the metal, not cut through it. Trace the pattern completely, applying an even amount of pressure throughout. Remove the tape and the tracing paper. The face of your aluminum will be engraved, and the back will be embossed.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use acrylic paints, paint pens or permanent markers to add design interest to your hand engraved aluminum.
  • The edges of aluminum sheeting are sharp; be careful when handling this material.

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