Introduction: How to Do Engraving Easy and Make It Look Decent

Picture of How to Do Engraving Easy and Make It Look Decent

The kind of work I do entails that I either label my tools, or keep buying replacements for the ones ending up in other guys tool boxes all the time. most guys have their initials engraved freehand and it looks like their 4 year old did it for them... left handed... while drunk. I wanted to figure out a way to do it nice and this is what I came up with:

This instructable will show how to engrave something and make it look really nice with very little extra effort or skill required.


mailing labels or any other printable sticker material.
engraving pen- I got mine for $12.00 from Canadian Tire
something you need to engrave. (you might want to do a practice one first, don't start on your wife's wedding band just yet)

Please check out my other instructables and I also have a diy podcast called

Step 1: Image

Picture of Image

Use your favorite imaging software to create your name in just about any font you want to use. Just remember that you are going to use an outline (at least in the beginning) I tried a fill once and found it very time consuming and hard to make it look good.

You can dress it up with some fancy art around the name but since that is probably a good way to get myself beat up at work, I'll just make it plain here. You have to be careful not to go too fine into the details because some of the paper gets damaged while you are engraving, you will see what I mean when you try it, just trust me for now.

Print out your image onto mailing labels or sticker paper. I try to do most of a sheet and I print it out a few different sizes to have some extras around and to be able to fit it the best possible way.

Trim the label if you have to and stick it to the tool where you want to engrave your name. Push it down good because we don't want it to slide when we start. Also the better it is stuck down, the less the paper seems to get damaged.

Step 2: Engrave It

Picture of Engrave It

Very carefully trace the lines in your image with the engraver. I like to try to keep the tip as perpendicular as possible, longer straight lines could be helped with a straight edge if you felt the need. You need to make sure you press hard enough to cut through the paper, you can hear and feel the difference I find. Take your time because this is the final product and I didn't see any engraving erasers beside the engravers. (although a grinder would work) Another tip is to try and stay at the same travel speed for the tip, if you dwell too long on a point, you will notice it on the final product.

For the center punch I made in trade school, I filed a flat spot into the knurling to give myself a nice spot to engrave.

I once did a really nice one for a birthday present for a friend. I have no picture but I engraved my friends name in a really funky font onto a rock climbing carabiner. (disclaimer- engraving onto a structural part may weaken the carabiner) I engraved the locking barrel which bears no weight. You would hate to give someone a birthday present that kills them, no matter how cool it looks.

Experiment, enjoy, and hang on to your tools!


ReaganK1 (author)2015-03-10

I used a tool just like this to engrave the band around a gavel. Is there any way to add black into the engraving to make it stand out more?

jake.earl.5264 (author)ReaganK12015-03-11

After engraving, take a sharpie and fill in the letters. Put it on heavy so it will sink into the crevasses. Then simply wipe off the area.. The paper towel will remove only the surface and not the letters. If you mess up, use rubbing alcohol to start over.

jscanlan (author)2014-12-28

You used a vibrating engraver not a rotary?

cnlson1 (author)2014-10-17

I actually was just going to engrave my name on my multi tool and read this. I just used an ink pen to write my name on the tool as a guide and it worked perfectly.

thank you for sharing!

slarti.fartfast (author)2014-10-07

How do I engrave my name on my engraving tool? ;-)

pfred2 (author)2011-06-28

I have lots of engraved tools, people's initials, their first names, stuff I don't even know what it stands for. I think it really adds to the charm of a tool. I even engraved my name on a tool once, now I guess I'm immortal.

I don't have a Spencer yet though, I'll have to keep my eyes open ...

Cooldeal (author)pfred22011-07-07

Lol pfred2. Spencer your tools now look like they were made by the Spencer company, like other brand name tools. If your last name was Crescent or other brand tool name you can get tools to wind up in your box for free.

I did this with thin paper and contact cement. Stuck really good and after I cleaned with acetone and solvent cleaner it was excellent. Using a pair of good magnifying glasses helps keep the engraver steady on the lines. Nice tools btw.

pfred2 (author)Cooldeal2011-07-08

The only engraving that is going to help is an engraved reputation for beating the snot out of anyone taking your junk! All any effective security ever is is violence. I don't really think the threat of I'll deprive you of what's already mine is quite enough to slow too many down either.

LOL indeed.

Cooldeal (author)pfred22011-07-08

Yeah that always works. But sometimes like in my shop I have apprentices and helpers who might have to put scattered tools back on the owners' benches or tool box. Sometimes I borrow a tool many times a day and might forget who I got it from. So instead of holding it up in the air and shouting who's it is I can just look at the neat engraving and save my arm and vocal cords.

pfred2 (author)Cooldeal2011-07-08

If you're using a tool many times just leave it there. Go out and get one special for the spot and leave it. Makes things go a lot more efficiently and easily. Some tools are just meant to be scattered.

I think my vertical mill has a better tool collection than most people do, and they belong to it. It has its own roller box and everything! Just saying.

static (author)2009-12-11

 A drunk 4 year old, LOL. Great tip thanks for posting it.

John Smith (author)2007-06-22

Look, It works! I printed out the second image below, and engraved it. It took a while, but it turned out great. The picture is kind of hard to take, with the flash, so it's at a angle.

static (author)John Smith2009-12-11

 Looks fantastic. I don't know if a I can stand holding the vibrating engraver I have long enough at one sitting to get it done very fast.  The artwork is very appropriate for use on the grave memorial of a welder.

dave spencer (author)John Smith2007-06-23

looks great! Congrats

Garth Knight (author)2007-05-27

hmmm... Perhaps I can combine this with the snail painting instructable. i don't know if the snails would be too keen about it.

whiteoakart (author)Garth Knight2009-12-03

Geez Garth. It will be like giving your snails a little shiatsu massage.  They'll love it.  People pay good money for shiatsu.

waif69 (author)2007-12-28

That is a good idea, simple enough for me to think "Why didn't I figure that out myself?" Thanks for sharing!

joknrok (author)2007-11-19

Great idea. And that center punch is beautiful. Well done.

mattie (author)2007-07-07

The engraving looks terrific. How much would you charge to do some for me?

John Smith (author)2007-06-07

Looks great! I got a Dremel brand engraver for christmas, but it was hard to get good results from it. This would work for simple pictures too, right? Also, what font did you use? If you can, could you tell me where you got it, and it's name?

dave spencer (author)John Smith2007-06-08

It would work great for pictures too. Sorry about the font, I made the mistake of downloading a zip file from the net (I don't remember where) with 10,000 fonts in it! Makes it very hard to remember which one you picked unless you save it. One of these days I am going to go through and weed a couple thousand out.

John Smith (author)dave spencer2007-06-15

This is what I plan to print out on sticker paper, cut apart, and engrave.

Buckskin (author)2007-06-12

I did this on a couple of knives and it worked great.

Vendigroth (author)2007-06-04

i've got one of those engravers, i use it to, well, engrave things Usually on the tangs of the knives i make, though that DOES sound just a little bit ghoulish...

lennyb (author)2007-05-30

very nice. i used to mark the knives i made using a stencil like that but instead of tracing the out line i would cut it out with a razor blade and use gun bluing to stain the steel black{doesnt work on chrome or stainless} i used photographic splice tape from film splicers and drew the outline i wanted in fine maker before triming it out. nice to put logos on swords.

lemonie (author)2007-05-29

Your tool looks like something worth engraving too. I have some poor-quality tools at my didposal... Good work L

Marqis (author)2007-05-29

Good idea. An even better one would be to use the label maker that you probably have at work and trace that. The output, not the actual label maker. ;)

PetervG (author)2007-05-28

Today I just bought a 1$ engraver and that works fine.

pharoah (author)2007-05-27

Cool, Never new it was that cheap and easy to do :)

thematthatter (author)2007-05-27

i did this last christmas, engraved the name of a funeral home on a rock to put in their aquarium. i filled in all the letters, it took me about 4 hours to do but it looked cool

dataphool (author)2007-05-27

Nice Idea! How many other lack-wits out there will read this and decide their brains have been residing in their asses for a lifetime.

Really good idea!

dchall8 (author)2007-05-27

Sometimes the simple ones are the best ones. I had to engrave a serial number in something in college and realized I suck at freehand writing with a vibrating pen. I think I could do this.

jenn buckley (author)2007-05-27

nice work, looks sharp.

About This Instructable




Bio: I have had a few careers so far, soldier, school teacher, arborist, millwright. I love change and I love learning.
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