Glass Engraving: Information & How to Engrave

Engraving on glass is a little different than the usual methods mentioned such as cream, sandblasting, and hydrofluoric acid. I consider engraving as more of a process that scratches the glass rather than abrading designs into it. This can usually be done with an electric engraver which can be purchased from a hobby store. There are a few different types of engraving which use different tools.


Using a rotary engraver on flat glass.

  • Hand Held Rotary Engraver: Common tools you can use is a Dremel rotary or a Dental drill engraver. Most hardware and hobby stores will have a similar rotary or Dremel tool.
  • Laser Machine: A laser machine can have an expensive start up cost, but they are getting cheaper as technology advances. Although these types of engravers can be an easy way to personalize glass, they are sometimes hard to set up for round glass. Most of the machine engravers have a system setup that will hold round glass objects such as cups but they don’t allow you to customize in an artistic way like the other methods I suggest through out the website.
  • Wheel Engraving: Traditionally this process spun a copper wheel with an abrasive mixture applied to cut into the glass, but today some artists use diamond wheels.
  • Hand Engraving: Other simple ways are to engrave the glass by hand with a special scribe utensil. You can simply scratch in the image or use the stippling technique which uses dots to make up the image.

You can read about more techniques with updated projects and information at my engraving and etching news blog. This is my own blog, and if you would like your work or business featured here, then let me know. Since all the equipment and systems that I talk about can be used for different projects, it doesn’t just describe ways to personalize glass, but also for customizing rock, metal, and various other popular materials. And that is the wonderful thing about my ebook and this type of equipment. There really are many different items that you can easily personalize.

Engraving Basics

If you have some artistic talent, you can freehand engrave your glass piece or use a pattern to follow. Either way, it usually takes a steady hand. A pattern can be placed behind the glass by taping it and following the lines from the other side of the glass. The pattern lines are usually more sketchy as show below. Feel free to use this pattern also.

Rotary engraving of the statue of liberty.Sailboat pattern.

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