How Do I Choose the Best Engraving Pens?

T. Carrier

In most places the market for engraving pens can be quite broad, and making the best choice is usually about researching the options more than anything else. The pen that’s right for you will be the one that can perform all the tasks you want on the surfaces you want, all while meeting your criteria for cost and aesthetic things like look and comfort. In nearly all cases the decision is an individualized one, and as such the tool that’s best for you might not necessarily also be best for someone else. Getting the advice and opinions of others who have made purchases in the past can be a good place to start, but shouldn’t be definitive.

Engraving tools are commonly made of carbon steel and hardened steel.
Engraving tools are commonly made of carbon steel and hardened steel.

Consider the Options

The main goal of any engraving pen is to carve designs, letters, and words into hard surfaces, particularly metal surfaces. How they do that and the quality of the end result can depend as much on the type of tool as the skill of the user. In general, engraving tools come in three varieties: air engravers, electric engravers, and laser engravers. Choosing the best one usually starts with an understanding of what makes each unique.

Laser engravers are typically the most powerful cutting tools, and they work by using a channeled laser beam to cut the surface. Electric options typically use a fine blade that, when attached to a motorized head, can make controlled indentations. These types typically require a great deal of precision and are more frequently used by people who have at least some engraving experience. If you’re more of a beginner, an air engraver might be a better choice. Air options are usually powered with pneumatic pressure, and tend to be less expensive than either laser or electric options.

Think About Your Surface

Another thing to think about is the type of surface you’ll be engraving most often. An ideal engraving pen should cut into many types of surfaces, from plastic to metal. Pen tips that are made from a durable material generally offer the best results. Diamond tips are perhaps the best at cutting through hard surfaces, but tungsten carbide is often very effective as well. These latter types also generally have lower prices. Pens with rounded tips often give better control, but will likely be less proficient in making deep or precise cuts.

Devices for engraving are often measured via cuts per minute, or CPM. This number can range from a few hundred to the high thousands. In most cases, a higher CPM ratio equates to finer engraving. As such, lower CPM numbers are often more useful for larger surfaces whereas a high CPM ratio indicates the tool can be effectively used on smaller surfaces. These figures and other purchasing considerations can best be compared through thorough online research and consumer recommendations.

Importance of Convenience

Your own comfort and convenience is something to consider, too. If flexibility in movement is important to you, then a more lightweight pen may be your best bet. Smaller weights range from about 1 to 1.25 pounds (about 0.45 to 0.57 kilograms). In addition, varieties that operate via palm mechanisms allow more freestanding portability. For comfort, many engraving pens also have a cushion-like texture around the finger grip.

Cost and Aesthetic Considerations

Cost is also usually something to keep in mind. There is usually quite a range in price, with the tools made from the finest materials and with the most features often costing quite a bit more than simpler models. Thinking about how often you are going to be using the tool and the sort of precision that you need are things that can help guide your decision. For some people, aesthetics are also important, particularly when it comes to how the pen feels in the hand. If you can, try a few models out before you commit to a purchase.

Engraved Writing Pens

In some cases, the term “engraving pen” might also refer to ink-based writing utensils that have individual or personal information engraved on their surface. Choices for these personalized engraving pens may depend on individual taste, as colors and sizes vary. Many companies offer an array of design templates. Both the pen and the engraving should be made with materials that will endure frequent use, so stainless steel is one hardy option. If the engraved pens are for advertising purposes, businesses may wish to buy discount bulk packages and pick designs that are large and eye-catching.

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Discussion Comments


An engraving pen can make a really neat gift for those involved in crafting and other artistic pursuits.

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