How to engrave glass

Engraved glassware is an ideal personalised special gift, but how is glass engraved?

There are several methods for engraving glass, with some of them suitable for hobbyists to try at home. Other methods such as sandblasting and laser engraving are commercial processes requiring expensive equipment operated by trained craftspeople.

Pin vice and diamond burr

A basic form of engraving uses a pin vice and a diamond burr tool, which are cheap to buy and operate without electricity. The glassware is secured in the vice and the handheld burr tool is used to engrave designs.


A rotary drill is a popular way for craftspeople to engrave glassware. Drills come with a number of different attachments, stones, burrs, points and polishers. You can use a professional dental drill that has no vibration and is comfortable to work with because it is lighter, but this will be expensive. A basic Micro Motor drill is a more affordable option.

Copper wheel

Copper wheel engraving uses a copper wheel mounted on a lathe. The glass touches and is moved around the rotating wheel to make the cuts. The copper wheel method is a traditional way of glass engraving that produces excellent results when used by an expert engraver.


Sandblasting is used by commercial glass engravers. A fine grit abrasive material is “blasted” onto the glass surface at high speed, giving a pleasing matt white finish to the designs. The sandblasting machine is usually powered by compressed air. Despite the name of the technique, the material blasted onto the glass is not normally sand but aluminium oxide.

A stencil made from light-sensitive film is fixed to the glass. Artwork is printed on vellum, which is exposed to light over the film to form the stencil ready for sandblasting


Stipple engraving creates a pattern on glass by repetitively tapping on the surface with a carbide point to form small dots or indentations. This adds a misty look to the design.


Laser engraving involves a laser beam that burns into the glass to form a design. This is often used by commercial engravers to mass-produce engraved glassware.


Technically, etching is not a type of engraving, as it uses acid paste and a stencil to form a matt finish design on glassware. Some hobbyists buy stencils to make etched glassware easily.

No need to engrave glass yourself

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a skilled glass engraver to give your friends, colleagues and family members personalised engraved glassware. Simply place an order for engraved glassware with us, and we will take care of engraving messages and designs. There is a wide range of glassware products to choose from including drinking glasses, trophies, vases, clocks and paperweights.

You don’t need to know what method of glass engraving a company uses as long as they make an excellent job of engraving. Engravers add text and images to glassware. As well as having a selection of stock images, you can supply your own artwork so that a logo, badge or other personal image appears on the engraved glassware.

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