Engraving metal with a rotary tool is a fun way to turn a plain metal object into something meaningful and precious. If you want to create a keepsake to give as a Christmas gift or anniversary gift, pulling out the rotary tool can be a great, inexpensive way to do so.
Create grooves, textures, or simple lines. If you’re an experienced rotary tool user, you can write a word or phrase, draw an image, make a symbol, or do almost anything. You can engrave and etch on a soft or hard metal, a metal that’s thick or thin, or almost any type of metal. All you’ll need is what you’re going to engrave, your rotary tool, the engraving bits, and a pencil or permanent marker to mark.
Find the bits you need to get your engraving done. Most bits manufactured from metal are appropriate to use on soft metals like aluminum, copper, or thin sheet steel. If it’s a thicker, hard metal, such as a thick steel or brass, you will need more than the standard bits. Using the regular bits will only see them unsuccessful and wearing out rather quickly. What you’ll need to look for are bits with diamond wheel or diamond burr coating. When in doubt, choose the harder bit.
From there, use your pencil or permanent marker to draw on what you’re about to engrave. Temporary markings are important. They are the guidelines you will trace. If the metal is smooth, permanent marker is needed. If not, a graphite pencil can be used.
Complete engraving around the grooves. If the metal is thick and you want to engrave grooves with noticeable depth, start on low speed. Then, draw the lines lightly with the top to create a basic scratch shape. Then, run over these lines repeatedly until the shape you want emerges. Increase the speed the deeper you engrave. Then, reduce the speed once the lines are close to finish. Towards the end, slower speeds will help you clean up the edges.
Lastly, use a light touch for any parts of the drawing that are etched. Consider practicing on a piece of scrap metal before you give the proper metal a try. You want to get the hang of this before working on the real thing. This way, you’ll learn how to give yourself the textures you want. Depending on the metal and the bit type, the technique can be slightly different so remember, go slow.
Choose one of Canada’s best rotary tools from PrimeCables and get started on your next engraving project!