What Are the Best Tips for Engraving Stainless Steel?

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  • Written By: Patrick Lynch
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 18 April 2015
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The process of engraving stainless steel can be performed at home with a handful of simple items that can be purchased from virtually any hardware store. The best tips for engraving stainless steel include using wax to protect the metal from the acid, using a nail to do the actual engraving, and being very careful when pouring the acid over the steel. The metal must also be rinsed with water and any remaining debris scrubbed off. Most importantly, the person doing the engraving should always wear safety equipment, such as gloves and goggles, because the acid is dangerous to use without adequate protection.

Giving engraved objects is a common method of marking a special occasion such as an anniversary or the winner of a sporting event. Professional engravers use expensive equipment to write names and dates on stainless steel and other metal items, but it is possible to engrave stainless steel at home. Before beginning the engraving process, the best tip every person should follow is to make sure that he or she has all of the proper tools and safety equipment. In addition to goggles and gloves, all that is required is wax, a sharp nail, acid etching ink, a sheet pan, the metal, and a few other items. Being prepared before the process starts is the best way to make the process go smoothly and safely.


To begin process of engraving stainless steel, the engraver should take the wax and melt it into a pot until the wax is completely smooth. This can be done on a stove top or a microwave; if microwaved, the wax should be put into a microwave-safe container and heated for short periods of time until it is fully melted. The melted wax is then added to the metal piece; only the area where the engraving will take place needs to have the wax put on it. The point of the wax is to ensure that the steel is not damaged by the acid, which will be used later.

The steel must now be placed in the sheet pan where it should stay until the wax becomes hard. At this stage, the nail can be used to start engraving the message in the wax. The nail should gig into the wax until the tip is engraving stainless steel.

It is very important that safety goggles and gloves be worn for the next step. The acid should be poured slowly over the area of the steel which has been engraved. The steel should still be in the pan in order to stop the acid from pouring out and damaging whatever surface it touches. A cloth or thick tissue paper should be placed around the edges of the steel, and the piece of metal left to settle for a few minutes.

The wax can then be scraped off with a stick and the tissue paper or cloth removed. After engraving stainless steel with acid, the metal should be washed thoroughly with water. If necessary, a scrubbing brush can be used to remove any remaining traces of metal and acid, although this cleaning should be done gently as to not cause damage to the steel.



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Post 2

I have a friend who makes stainless steel jewelry, and she often engraves bracelets, pendants, and rings. She uses a basic, electric operated engraver which works perfectly for small objects. It has interchangeable tips so she is able to do a variety of engraving jobs on pieces of different sizes.

Post 1

You don't always need to use wax or acid when engraving stainless steel. If the item you are engraving isn't too small or delicate, you can do the job and skip these two materials.

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