Introduction: Hand Held Non-Powered Engraver

About: Electrical Engineer

I had made one of these several years ago at work, so I could write (engrave) information about a test part like date, software version, etc. I found that using a regular marker or even a paint marker typically ended up eventually wearing off. This engraver works especially on soft materials like plastics, but it can also work on metal even if to only lightly scratch the surface. It was enough to ensure the information was more permanent than the marker or paint marker.

This instructable is relatively simple and quite flexible in application, since there are many types of pens out there.

Bill of Materials

  • A pen, especially one that no longer writes. I used a click-click type, but this should be able to work with a twist type with some slight modifications depending on the ink tube type.
  • T-Pin
  • Copper tubing similar size to a typical ink pen's ink tube outer diameter.

Warning: Please use caution when working with the sharp tip, so you don't damage your skin.

Step 1: Supplies and Tool(s) Needed


  • Side cutters or Razor Blade Cutter
  • Hammer and hard flat surface like a vise
  • Some type of crimpers to flatten the copper tube. You could use the hammer if you trust skills to not mangle the tube.


For my Hand Held Non-Powered Engraver, I used a typical click-click pen. Other types might work, like twist type, but I haven't tried to make one yet. Disassemble it to obtain access to the ink tube.

You will need to cut the head off the T-pin, so you are left with just the -pin. This will be inserted into the copper tube later.

I used a small diameter copper tube. Other metals could probably be used, but this is what I had on hand. You will want the inner diameter to be about the same size as the T-pin diameter, but if you use a larger pin, just select the appropriate size. Also, the outer diameter will need to be able to fit through the pen's normal opening.

Step 2: Preparing the Pin and the Tube

Next you will place the copper tube next to the the ink tube. You will be trimming the copper tube just shorter than the full length of the ink tube with wire cutters or make one of these Razor Blade Cutter. It's OK if the tube is slightly too long, you can cut or file it down later. This allows for approximately 1/8" to 3/16" of the pin to stick out, but you will need to check if it sticks out when the pen is retracted. You don't want to poke yourself when this is in your pocket or something.

Then you will want to flatten the pin slightly somewhere near the middle with a hammer or some similar method. Later you will make a second crimp on the copper tube which will help hold the pin in place.

You will need to make a crimp on the copper tube near where the spring normally rests on the ink tube. It needs to be wide enough to actually stop the spring, like on the ink tube. This will help it maintain its retract-ability, so it operates like a normal click type pen.

You can see I also put some marker lines in the rough location where I flattened the pin. Then I place the pin inside the copper tube and adjust the position to wherever I want and crimp.

Finally, the copper tube with pin and spring is inserted into the pen housing and assemble the writing tip end. Verify that the engraver tip extends and retracts like a normal ink pen.

*Note: for my particular pin, there were some guide ribs down in the white tip. These were causing the copper tube to get caught and didn't always extend properly, so you can see in the pictures, I filed around the tip to make it more cone-shaped. Some pen designs might not require this step.

Step 3: Engraver Tip Extented and Retracted

For reference, the engraver tip (the pin) can be seen extended and retracted in the pictures as well as the video.

Step 4: Engraving an Aluminum Plate

Seen here, I just wrote my name in the aluminum plate a couple of times.

This works very well in plastic. Sometimes I use it to mark test parts, but I also use it when I make a plastic project box and want to write the name of a switch or input/output terminal.

It could work on some wood as well.

There could be many other possible uses, let everyone know your ideas and thanks for reading through.