View Full Version : Engraving glass

01-18-2010, 08:10 AM
I went to the dentist last fall and while there managed to scrounge a small handfull of carbide and diamond burrs for engraving purposes. I am going today for a few more fillings so I thought I would do an engraving using one of those burrs to give to my dentist as a thank you and to also remind the assistant to not throw out the burrs.

I found an image of a castle in Spain, I forget the name of it. I converted it to line art then vectorized it to make this design. I engraved it on a mirror that the dentist can hang on her wall by the eye in the handle.

The actual engraving is done with a spring loaded tool holder that ensures that the tool can float at constant pressure regardless of small variations in the height of the surface.

In these images the tool is a carbide burnisher.



The mirror is flooded with soapy water to keep the diamonds cool otherwise they will vanish from the heat. Diamond begins to revert back to graphite at only 800 degrees F. .

The result:


This is ground engraving. The diamond burr is spun at around 3000 rpm to to grind the glass surface without too much heat being generated. It is also possible to directly scratch engrave glass but that requires a single point tool that cuts the same in all directions and produces a much finer but less visible image.

Closeup of ground engraving:


Gary Gill
01-18-2010, 08:16 AM
Very neat. How wide are the engraved lines?

Tony Ennis
01-18-2010, 08:20 AM
Very nice. If you used the diamonds to engrave the glass, what's the carbide burnisher for?

01-18-2010, 08:30 AM
Lines are about .010 wide. The carbide burnisher is for engraving metal without cutting. It displaces the metal smoothly leaving a polished groove.

01-18-2010, 08:34 AM
What is your process to go from image to vectorized drawing?
If you don't mind my asking. And I understand that I might be
asking too much.

01-18-2010, 08:52 AM
That sounds like a good subject for another post. If you don't mind waiting a day or two I will create some examples and provide some links to free software that will do the job.

01-18-2010, 09:04 AM
That sounds like a good subject for another post. If you don't mind waiting a day or two I will create some examples and provide some links to free software that will do the job.

That would be wonderful. I could do it but it would take me several
weeks to have anything presentable.

01-18-2010, 09:17 AM
I think this is a hobby for someone that has too much free time.

I worry about the powdered glass I don't want to breath any of it or get it in my eyes. Try Hydrofluoric acid and a artist paint brush just paint it on it will etch the glass pretty quick and you don't have to worry about glass dust.

01-18-2010, 09:45 AM
It's done under water so there is no hazard from powdered glass. It doesn't present a hazard anyway since amorphous silicon is not a hazard dust. Hydrofluoric acid on the other hand is about as nasty as it comes.

01-18-2010, 09:52 AM
too much free time.

Seems impossible to define. How much free time is just right.
Ask Goldilocks. She'd know.

01-18-2010, 09:59 AM
I'm retired. I have plenty of time although little of it is free time. :D I still have a list of projects longer than my probable life span will accommodate. That doesn't count the other list...

01-19-2010, 02:41 AM

I can't see more than your first pic. I don't know if it is that I have upgraded FF too often or why, but it doesn't allow me to see more than one or 2 pics on the other site either.

Regardless, I don't know why so many are so worried about retired people, or those who are NOT retired, spending time on something they SEEM to think could be better used making money.

JRouche, in another thread, is bored with being retired, and, at 44, I can see that, a bit. Needs a purpose. I have been retired, though through disability, since '04. I can't do all that much, but I can spend time with my grands.

I don't feel that I am wasting "free time", I am using it in a better fashion than working all the hours they would allow me.

Has there ever been a poster here who has seen a headstone inscribed with "I wish I Had Spent More Time At Work"?

I can do as I wish. Go to the mini machines, but don't HAVE to. Go out to the garage and run the bigger lathes (SB 9's, not huge) but don't HAVE to. Nor do I have to eke out a little more income. Union pension, and I am frugal, if not CHEAP.

Retirement is not the kiss of death. Many people have lived way longer than some of you say was the original intent of a pension. 65 and you're outa here..

But, sure as Hell, if you have no interest in life outside work, and decide that when you retire you will become a fisherman, a gardener, whatever, if you had no interest before, you will not have it after.

Those here who have machining interests had some exposure to or desire to make chips, erstwhile, or they would not be trying to make chips today. 400 buck import machines, though all scoff at them, elsewhere, allow them to try their hand at it, without a major expense.

Puzzles you, you are welcomed here, the Home of the Amateur, and learn how to run such complicated machinery, without getting your ass reamed for not being "Professional" class.

I like being retired, especially from the last job I had. My kids and grands tell me that I can't die until the youngest is all grown up, and I don't intend to. That ain't up to me, but I am going to try. Not for me. I could die tomorrow and BFD, but don't want the grands to lose another one. They're down to just me, and since my kids were all girls, "My Name Is Legend". Literary thing, there.



01-19-2010, 03:13 AM
That is really nice I always wondered how or what was used to engrave glass. I have seen the wheels used to make cut glass but not engrave. Nice work.

01-19-2010, 06:00 AM
I gave the mirror to my dentist yesterday and she was very pleased. I think when I explained to her on the visit last year that I do engraving she had some vague idea of somebody whittling away on something with a dremel. Now I have to make something for her assistant. While the dentist was out of the treatment room the assistant hauled out a little box full of bits she has been saving for me. I wound up with another batch of bits to go with the first.

When the dentist came back she remarked to the assistant that we really should start saving the used burrs for me to which we both nodded. :D

With a few exceptions I give away most of my work. I have done a few commissions that people have requested but for the most part I usually make items as gifts. I am not in this hobby to make it a job, I have already done the job thing for plenty long enough. These days I spend much of my time exploring science and in particular the science of materials as it pertains to making objects of interest.

01-19-2010, 06:52 AM
Anything that one would obtain from medicos/dentists I would get them to put it thru the Autoclave (steriliser) first before giving them to u.

Hey only thinking about your wellbeing..........

01-19-2010, 08:15 AM
They autoclave everything, I asked. They aren't going to keep a box full of viruses in the drawer. I soak them in anhydrous ethanol anyway.