I love my Cricut Maker. In fact, I may even luuuvvv it. This one machine cuts fabric, paper, and vinyl. It also cuts wood, chipboard, leather, and even acrylic. It does other things as well, like engrave metal. What makes it even more amazing is all the insanely cool things people are making with it. And my absolute favorite thing to see are examples of people using the techniques I’ve taught on this blog. Engraved pie and cake servers and spatulas are showing up in Facebook Groups and Instagram. But in the groups, I also read comments from people that seem frustrated by the process. So for all those who will love engraving but don’t know it yet- and may feel frustrated- these are my 16 best tips for engraving serving ware with a Cricut Maker.
The Five Most Common Engraving Challenges
- Sourcing Quality but Inexpensive Blanks
- Choosing a Design that Fits the Blank
- No Idea of How to Test the Designs
- Difficulty Positioning and Sizing the Design
- Getting a Deep Enough Engraving
This post and the video I made for it will walk you through the solutions I’ve found for these different problems. Some are super simple, some may seem obvious. But, all of them will make engraving with your Cricut Maker easier, and you’ll have better results. Win!
Free Punny Design + a Pi Day Design
For this post, I created a new free engraving design that you can find in my Creative Resource Library. It’s a “Piece Out” design that would be fun for a picnic, a housewarming gift, or to serve your pie on Pi day. And because I’m a bit of a geek, I made a second design that is perfect for celebrating pi day that I added to my Well Crafted Studio Shop.
It may not be your type of humor, but I had fun with it. My teen son groaned when he read it but then tried to make me feel better by saying that groaning is “really the response people are going for when they make jokes like that”. That it’s “actually a sign of appreciation”. Not sure if that’s true… but he’s a teenager, so I took the compliment. If you get the joke and have a bit of a geek side too, then you can pick up this second pie server engraving design in my shop!
The 16 Best Tips for Engraving on Stainless Steel with your Cricut Maker
Tools and Materials
- Piece Out Pie Server Engraving Design (free in the Creative Resource Library)
- Stainless Steel Servers
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Engraving Tool (with quick-swap housing, or just the tip)
- Aluminum Sheeting
- Purple Strong Grip Mat
- Painters or Masking Tape
And Now… My 16 Best Tips for Engraving with your Cricut (by Subcategory)
3 Tips for Sourcing Your Engraving Blanks
1. Select pieces that are inexpensive. Cheaper pieces are usually cheaper, it’s just not necessary to buy something expensive to get a good outcome. The serving ware pieces that I link to in each of my tutorials are all inexpensive, but have a nice weight and look to them. They don’t look cheap.
2. Buy on Amazon or Dollar Store and buy multiples. Sometimes something happens in the process of engraving, or you make a dumb error, or you don’t love how your piece turned out if you have multiples you can go ahead and make the adjustments and engrave another. I really feel like it’s foolish to only buy one of something (life happens) but the caveat here is that I make sure that what I’m using isn’t expensive.
If you are using something expensive then purchasing two may not be possible. For jewelry blanks search “stamping blanks” in Amazon and you’ll find a bunch of options.
Full Disclosure: I only purchased my blanks on Amazon, not at a dollar store. But so many people have recommended the cake servers at the dollar store that I thought I should pass on the info to you. You can also use serving ware that you pick up at garage sales or thrift shops- they’re usually inexpensive and it can be fun to hunt for them.
3. Consider the surface area that you’ll have to engrave on. When I’m starting I like to figure out what my engravable surface area actually is. This means-
- keeping in mind the handle
- the taped edges
- Design Space will not let you position your design any closer to the edges of the grid then 1/4″. When you subtract those areas you’ll be left with space you’ll actually be able to engrave on.
4 Quick Tips about Designs and Design Space
4. Choose a design that complements your chosen piece i.e., triangular or square. Make the best use of the space you have. When I engraved on the cookie spatulas my original design was too small looking in the center, so I added some snowflakes on either side of the gingerbread boy. This made the design seem bigger and was a better use of the space I had.
5. Make the design as simple as you can so that it shows more clearly. Too small with too many lines, and it makes it more likely that the tip will start to wander a bit.
6. On your canvas in Design Space change the Linetype to Engraving right away. When you do this your single lines are outlined and become double lines. This is normal, but I find it helps me visualize the design better as I’m working on it.
7. Duplicate and Align to center, then attach the designs for a deeper engraving. This is a little trick that essentially has your Cricut making multiple passes over the same image. I usually duplicate two or three times and have been really pleased with the results.
3 Tips for Testing your Engraving Designs
8. To engrave something with a handle, position it upside down at the bottom of the mat so that the handle is hanging off the bottom edge. Then, in Design Space flip the design upside down and drag it to the bottom of the mat on your screen.
9. Use sheets of aluminum step flashing to test the design. You can use both sides of the flashing. Things you may want to test are-
- size of the design in relation to your serving ware blank
- how the design fills the space that you have
- placement of the design
- how deep the engraving goes
- different engraving settings (such as aluminum, brass, stainless steel) so that you can kind of figure out how much pressure each has.
10. With a sharpie, trace the object you’ll be engraving on to the aluminum flashing. Adjust the design based on the test engraves. I’m a visual person and really like seeing what my final piece will look like. Just be aware that the size of the blank is the space inside the marker line and does not include the line itself.
Note: When you test the engraving, you don’t need to duplicate the design unless that’s one of the things you’re testing.
3 Tips for Positioning Your Design
11. When you’re ready to engrave you can use a sharpie to mark the center of your object. This optional, but will help with making sure that your piece is straight up and down and not listing to the side slightly. Use this mark to line up the center of your piece to the grid line. The Sharpie will usually rub off with your finger if you get it right away. Otherwise, a little soap and water often does the trick.
12. Use the mm grid lines of the mat to help position your objects. Often I center my serving ware piece on the line but in the case of the spreaders, which were such a small surface it was easier to butt the design up to one of the lines on the mat (so I knew exactly where it was) and then place the spreader over the line.
13. Use the Sharpie to draw a line ½” from the grid at the bottom of the mat. That 1/2″ is where the roller will be, so to be safe don’t position the serving ware’s handle any closer to the bottom edge of the grid then that. Drawing a line on my mat helps me to remember this and to place my pieces correctly.
1 Tip for When You’re Ready to Engrave
14. Use masking or painters tape to secure your server or spatula. Always press down on the entire piece to make sure you get as much surface area adheres to the mat as possible. There’s a rumor in some Facebook groups that you don’t have to tape down your serving ware piece. And depending on the blank you’re using, and if your mat is newer, you may be able to get away with not taping it. However, the possible consequences of what can go wrong when you don’t tape your piece down can range from misaligned engraving to the piece actually moving and getting jammed in the machine. I err on the side of caution and tape my piece down on all sides, even going over some spots from different angles to prevent shifting.
(NOTE: If the Red Light Flashes…)
If your piece does get jammed under the roller, the machine will stop and the little Cricut “go” light will flash red. Stay calm, and just try to pull it out. As a precaution, you may also want to unplug your machine before you wrest it out. This has happened to me when I didn’t tape my piece down well enough.
There were times when my serving ware piece still seemed to move slightly as it engraved, but when it was done engraving I couldn’t see any problems. So it’s not quite a science.
2 More Quick Tips for Awesome Results!
15. Move the star wheels all the way to the right. This is something else that Cricut recommends, but it also gives you a tiny little bit more of space between the roller and the handle of your piece.
16. Use tape to pick up any small metal shavings that are left behind from the engraving. Any time you have metal shavings, no matter how small, don’t use your hand to brush them aside as they could cut you and be embedded in your skin. Not cool. As soon as I unload the mat and peel off the painter’s tape holding down the edges of my piece of serving ware I use the sticky part of the tape to pat the surface of the engraving. This picks up any tiny little parts and keeps you safe as well!
What do you think of these 16 Best Tips for Engraving with the Cricut Maker’s Engraving Tool?
So were they crazy awesome? At least a couple? I hope you enjoyed my first “tips” style post. And I hope that you grab the free Piece Out Engraving Design from my Creative Resource Library. Then watch the video and follow along!
Still, have Questions? Check Out My E-Book!
Excited to jump in? Sweet! Nervous? I have a book, Engraving Metals with Your Cricut Maker that will teach you over 34 techniques, including four ways to position your engravings perfectly. It also gives different ways for getting a deeper engraving as well as a higher contrast. I have seven tutorials that walk you through all kinds of ideas so that you can create jewelry, and gifts you’ll love to give others! Sign up for my email list to get a special offer on this book!
For More Inspiration
If you enjoyed this post with the 16 BEST tips for engraving, then be sure to check out my other engraving tutorials.
My most popular blog tutorials are how to engrave stainless steel pie or cake servers, followed by cheese spreaders engraved with cheesy phrases. I also guest posted on Jennifer Maker’s blog a tutorial on how to engrave cookie spatulas, you can check that post out her site or watch the video she made on her YouTube Channel (which is awesome btw).
I also like to recommend you check out Clever Someday’s engraving resource page. She really is clever every day and is nice enough to share her cleverness through her blog and Facebook group. She has a great resource post on different methods for adding a cross fill hatch to your design as well.
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