Introduction: Plexiglass Etching Part 1

Picture of Plexiglass Etching Part 1

we all love pictures of something, be it cars or the instructables robot. in this three or 4 part series, i will show you how to make spectacular etchings of those pictures using very few tools. here, i will be using linux's penguin as an example

dremel rotary tool
several diamond tipped bits (shown in picture)
soldering iron, solder etc
small brush or compressed air
patience (or is that a supply?)

plexiglass (have it cut to size. do not cut it with the dremel. do sand the edges smooth)
picture of what you want to etch. all text must be reversed for this to work
good luck (i used good luck chipmunks)

Step 1: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

lock in the fine carving bit into your dremel. place the picture under the plexiglass and CLAMP the entire assembly down to your desk. turn on as many lights as possible. sit down, and make sure you will not be distracted. don any protective gear you need, such as ear defenders (not really needed) and safety glasses ( a good idea)



set your dremel to about half top speed. double check the clamps, then gently touch the tool to the plexiglass, holding it perpendicular to the glass. DO NOT force the tool. gently pull it toward you over the contour of the drawing. take your time. do not attempt to shade anything in yet. take about 2 passes, one to carve the groves, and one to deepen them. take a break every ten minutes. the tool and your eyes will thank you.

Step 3: Eyes

Picture of Eyes

sorry i dont have any pic of this. the eyes are a bit harder to make than most other parts of the etch. start by holding the tool perpendicular to the piece. slowly lower the tool, cutting holes for the eyes. stop about half way through the piece. you may need to raise and lower the tool to keep it from stalling. next, switch to the small diamond tipped ball cuter. just touch it down over the hole for several seconds. spectacular results.

Step 4: Filling In.

Picture of Filling In.

decide now what you want to shade in. using the small and large ball bits, shade in those areas using a back and forth motion. do not force the tool. leave the cuts fairly shallow.

Step 5: Finish Up

Picture of Finish Up

remove the piece from the desk, and hold it up to the light. touch up any bad joints or were its too shallow. make sure to hold it cut side away from you. dust the piece with the brush or compressed air. try to remove as much plexiglass powder as possible.
thats it for part one. stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.


thoraxe (author)2009-06-08

this is not etching. etching is the use of acid and a resist to form an image on a surface.

tech-king (author)thoraxe2009-07-13

this is mechanical etching. i could also have used a laser to burn on the image and it would have been called etching

thoraxe (author)tech-king2009-07-14

yes but wouldnt it then be called engraving?

tech-king (author)thoraxe2009-09-10

arguably this is engraving, but i think etching sounds cooler.

Valeil (author)tech-king2010-12-29

Why argue semantics? Etching=engraving=etching.

sharlston (author)2009-10-17

hey when are the other series ready?

=SMART= (author)2008-09-09

How do you cut your acrylic ? not engrave but get the square

tech-king (author)=SMART=2008-09-10

the best way is score-n-snap. that failling a scroll saw. that failing a jigsaw or tablesaw. that failing, a hacksaw. but go slow. all failling use a dremel, but go slow. if you think, jeez this is slow, your going at the right speed. otherwise you melt the plexi and disfigure the edges too much.

=SMART= (author)tech-king2008-09-10

ok sweet thanks :D expect acrylic 'ibles soon ! lol

tech-king (author)=SMART=2008-09-10

cool. i already did one with the robot though.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-22

That's freaking awesome! And you did LinuxH4x0r (No! Not in that way!)! Nice job! +1 rating.
I just might do the Instructables Robot.
(added to favorites)

Derin (author)GorillazMiko2008-06-27

do the robot with the kfc bucket on!

1up (author)GorillazMiko2008-03-24

"I just might do the Instructables Robot."
No, not in that way, either! :P

tech-king (author)GorillazMiko2008-03-23

thats part 3 of my guides

munchman (author)2008-06-08

What's plexiglass? Is is like perspex?

Labot2001 (author)munchman2008-06-13

Same thing. Different brand name.

tech-king (author)2008-03-22

for those of you wondering, part 2 should be ready next week, and part 3 a few weeks from now.

tech-king (author)tech-king2008-03-24

UPDATE: because i just got stitches in my foot, parts 2 and 3 will probably be delayed an extra week. stay tuned please.

Stop yer whining, I still had to go to my new school when I got my eyebrow split open the night before first day. same with when i got my arm impaled...

w00ty32 (author)tech-king2008-03-31

may i hear a story of why you have stitches in your foot? and part 2 or 3 better have something involving downlights or uplights on the etch.

guyfrom7up (author)w00ty322008-04-01

probably something to do with him dropping something very sharp on his foot related to the topic.

guyfrom7up (author)tech-king2008-03-22

hey, congrats on your first instructable, +1 vaguely look like LinuxH4x0r? ;)

It's the Linux mascot. That's why LinuxH4x0r has it as his pic.

yeah I know, it's tux. I was talking about tux PLUS the instructables robot on the belly.

Ah. I hadn't realized that LinuxH4xor had the robot too, until I'd made that comment. :P

guyfrom7up (author)guyfrom7up2008-03-22

oh, and are you sure that's plex glass? It looks like clear pvc.

tech-king (author)guyfrom7up2008-03-23

acrylic plastic.

stringstretcher (author)2008-03-30

My mini drill has a router attachment that is a depthstop. It is perfect for this kind of work. It also holds the bit perpendicular to the surface and allowa it to rest. I believe the router is meant to be used for replacing old grouting in tilework.

that should work, but you need to watch your speed, or you melt the plexiglass to slag

tech-king (author)2008-03-23

please wait until seeing part 3 to etch the instructables robot.

gmjhowe (author)2008-03-22

Nice, good job! I think simpler shapes mite give a move finished look tho.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-03-22

Sweet! It looks awesome! Great job +1

About This Instructable




Bio: i have engineering syndrome; even if something is working perfectly well, i gotta mod it. and for those of you wondering, oscar is my lab ... More »
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