Etching Glass With a Rotary Tool




Introduction: Etching Glass With a Rotary Tool

Decided to make this tutorial about etching glass with a rotary tool. Had no idea how it would work out but I'm quite pleased with the result. Usually I work with wood so figured this would be a nice project for Beyond the Comfort Zone contest since I haven't had any experience in working with glass.

Step 1:

You will need a printer to print out your designs which you will later trace on the glass. My friend made these in Photoshop with a 10 degree curve so they would end up straight when transferred to glass. You can just print out anything and trace it but then your lines will look a bit crooked on the glass because of the curvature.

Other stuff you need is a pair of scissors, masking tape, rotary tool and diamond tip bits. I bought my bit set for 5$ on ebay.

Step 2:

Cut out your picture and place it in a glass. Secure it with masking tape so it doesn't move.

Step 3:

Securely grip the glass in your hand. Grab the rotary tool like a pen and start tracing the image. Sadly I couldn't take a picture of how I'm actually holding both the glass and the tool but it should be fairly simple to understand by looking at the pics.

Step 4:

Outlines traced and paper inside removed. You can opt to finish at this point.

Step 5:

Filling the insides of the trace. I found that having a dark background makes it much more easy to see what you're doing.

Hope you like the tutorial and have fun etching!

Beyond the Comfort Zone Contest

Third Prize in the
Beyond the Comfort Zone Contest

2 People Made This Project!


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43 Discussions

Thank You, for a clear, concise instructable. Strangely enough just two days ago I was looking at a neat shaped drinking glass in a thrift store and thinking "wouldn't it be cool to put a design in that?" . Now I know how. Off to the store!

Nice! Great tip on adding the curve to the artwork.

1 reply

Cheers, turned out to be a nice solution for irregularly shaped glass.


2 years ago


I have been doing this for several years now, gave each member of my congregation where I attend an etched mug with a cartoon depicting what their job was. Had fun with an older gentle man who many many years ago fell asleep under a tree while plowing wth 2 mules. Put the man plowing on one side and the man sleeping on the opposite side. They were all a great hit. Did I mention that I got cases of glass mugs from the family Dollar tree.

It don't take a genius to do this, only one with a willingness to devote time to doing something for someone else.

What does 10 degree curve mean and how do you achieve that? Is there a setting somewhere in printer software?

Nice work?

10 replies

As my friend explained it to me, there is some sort of a perspective tool in Photoshop that wraps the image into a cone. Sadly, no, there is not a setting in printer software where you could adjust that.

However, if you need Photoshop the CS2 version is legally obtainable for free from Adobe's site!

Also, is a free online version very similar to photoshop.

Also, is a free online version very similar to photoshop.

Could you ask your friend where on PS did he finds the perspective tool you speak of please ?

I'll need it in order to try some too ^^

Thx in advance.

I can answer that. I have CS2. Go to Edit>Transform>Perspective. I altered the image first, then did the screenshot to show you. There's no dialog box to put in 10 degrees or any such values, you have to eyeball it.


Friend go back to me, said it was Edit>Transform>Warp and then to
choose a style from it. He's working with CS6 though so I can't confirm
that the same thing exists in CS2; hope it helps.

You only need to adapt your starting image with such curves if the sides of the glass that you're engraving are not parallel (hence using a correction angle that matches the slant of the glass).

I usually engrave images onto cylindrical glasses or cuboid flasks - the parallel sides mean no need to adjust your template (other than scaling)!

(Nice 'ible though darthwolf!)

True, didn't think that i could use straight glass too :D


I find using a dust mask a good idea doing glass rotary etching. (there are no splinters). I also use a magnifying light which makes it easier. Try making a bag filled with rice to hold your glass, Your glasses look great.