How to Engrave Galvanized Metal with Cricut

You’ve maybe heard that you can’t engrave galvanized metal with a Cricut Maker. It’s a common opinion, but with all the fabulous galvanized blanks taunting us from the aisles of crafts stores (even the Dollar Store!) I wanted to test this for myself. And it was a total fail- the first time. BUT I was determined to figure out WHY this wouldn’t work. And found a super simple fix that makes it easy to engrave galvanized metal with the Cricut Maker. This post shows you how to do this PLUS my tips to making your design stand out. 

You’ll also see the advantages to engraving on galvanized metal vs. regular aluminum, as well as sources for purchasing unique galvanized metal blanks that you can use to engrave one-of-a-kind projects with the Cricut Maker’s Engraving Tool. 


Get Free Engraved Ornament Downloads- Only for Merry Maker-mas!

4 Tips for Engraving Galvanized Metal Tags with Cricut Maker

  1. Knock Back the Zinc Coating by lightly sanding and only in one direction
  2. Use the Duplicate/Align/Attach Trick for Multiple Passes
  3. Use the Stainless Steel Material Setting
  4. Pick a Design that has a Pattern Fill (or add one yourself)

Galvanized Metal vs. Regular Aluminum

Galvanized metal is trendy. That makes it easier to find in the craft stores, especially in cute shapes. Even the Dollar Store has little galvanized metal signs that are absolutely adorable.

The appearance of galvanized metal has a real charm to it vs. aluminum that is too often shiny and makes the look of your engraving a little cheaper seeming. You can make your aluminum look better by spray painting it with textured spray paint. I even have a video on how to do this!

Galvanized metal has a steel base, which also makes it perfect for creating little magnetic memo boards. Something we can’t do with aluminum because that metal is not magnetic.

Engrave Christmas Ornaments!

In this post, I’ll show you how to engrave galvanized metal tags. But you can also do engraved galvanized Christmas ornaments. I’ll give some examples of these too- but you’ll be able to see more in my Engraving Metals with a Cricut Facebook Group where I’ve been posting my experiments.

Engraved Galvanized Christmas Gift Tags
Christmas Circle Ornaments

You can get these holiday Christmas designs as part of the Daily Deals that I’m starting 11/19 in my Facebook Group. So be sure you join!


Where to Find Galvanized Engraving Blanks

There are so many cute blanks available at

  • Michaels
  • Dollar Store
  • JoAnn’s
  • Amazon
  • Hobby Lobby

Where to Find Filled Engraving Designs

Right here! I have dozens available for free in my Free Library. But you can also find additional designs in my Shop.

Get these filled engraving designs FREE in my Freebie Library

If you don’t mind adding your own fill to the design (or text) you can use any design you want. Many of the layered designs in Cricut Access work especially well for engraving. You can add your own line fill and vary the angle of the line fill for a really stunning effect.


Tutorial- How to Engrave Galvanized Metal Tags with Cricut

Tools and Materials

You may also want:

Engraving Designs: You’ll find the pre-filled tag designs in my Free Library under Galvanized Tag Engraving Designs. Save as a download. This is a zip file you’ll need to open before you can upload it into Cricut Design Space.

Engraving Templates: I have a free SVG file that has a tag shape, a tree shape, and a snowflake shape in my Free Library.

Upload the SVG with all 3 and hide or delete the ones you won’t be using.

These shapes go with the galvanized tags and ornaments at Hobby Lobby, but you can just use regular aluminum flashing and cut out the shape with a pair of shears. You can cut them out of heavy cardstock or just use the easy placement method below.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through these links I may get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!


Directions

Step One: Sand Across the Surface of Your Galvanized Metal Blank (optional)

Some galvanized metals are fine as is. But for many, the zinc coating creates a pattern that makes your design hard to see. Sanding tones down the zinc coating’s texture which makes your design easier to see.

Sand in one direction only for the best engraving results. And sand VERY lightly.

You can see the difference here with the sanded on the left and the unsanded on the right.

Step Two: Use a Filled Engraving Design

A filled engraving design is a design or font with a line fill added. You can find these designs as downloadable freebies in my Free Library.

Find these designs and dozens more in the Free Library!

If you wanted to do filled writing, there are pre-filled fonts available online. Kay Hall has a great selection of these on the CleverSomeday engraving page.

Tip: You can also add your own line fill in Design Space with this method by CleverSomeday. 

If you’re using one of my engraving designs, it will be ready to go.

Step Three: Upload Your Engraving Design into Design Space

In the left side toolbar, tap the upload icon. Then, in the Image Gallery, tap on the Browse button. Choose the image file you want to use and then upload it. 

1) Next, if your design is an SVG it will go right to the Save page and you’ll save it as a cut file.

2) If it is a different type of file you’ll need to process your image as you upload it into Design Space. On the Image Processing page choose Complex.

If needed, you can remove the background on the next page. Use the magic wand to tap the background of your image.

Save as a cut file. 

Step Four: Insert Your Design into the Canvas

Select the design and then click the Insert Images at the bottom right of the screen.

This opens it into a new canvas in Cricut Design Space.

Step Five: Create a Template for Your Galvanized Metal Blank

Under the Shapes icon in the left toolbar, add a shape similar to your metal blank*.

Measure the size of your blank. I have a digital caliper and although not a necessary tool, I use mine all the time.

Unlock the shape and then use the Size option in the top toolbar (or drag the right corner node) and adjust the shape’s size to match the exact size of your galvanized metal blank. Lock it again. 

Then change the Size of the engraving design to fit inside your metal blank.

Duplicate it once and then drag the copy off to the side for later.

Select both the original design and the shapes template and in the top toolbar, click on Align, and then in the drop-down menu, choose Align>Center. Then Attach (bottom right in the Layers).

Change the Operation in the top toolbar to Pen. Change the color to red to make it easy to see. Now you have your template!

*Note- If you’re using the tag, tree, or snowflake ornaments that I show, you can download those shapes as an SVG in my Free Library.

Step Six: Duplicate, Align, and Attach

*If your design already has a fill pattern, you won’t need to do this step.*

Change the Operation (left side of top toolbar) to Engrave

Select the single design and Duplicate it 5-6 times. Select all the duplicates and under Align, choose Center again. This effectively stacks them on top of each other.

Attach all the designs. This essentially creates multiple passes. 

Duplicate, Align, and Attach

At this point, you should have a pen design (template) and an engraving design.

Step Seven: Prep Your Mat and Make it!

With painter’s tape, tape your galvanized blank down to the mat (towards the middle of the mat).

Then back on the canvas, save your design, and then tap “Make it.” This will open up the mat preview page. 

Step Eight: Use the Template on the Mat Preview Page

On the Mat Preview Page, click to drag your template to the place on the screen where you’ve taped your blank to the mat.

Drag the engraving design to precisely cover the template design, so there’s no red showing. 

Then, with the template selected, click on the three dots in the upper left corner. Choose Hide Selected. Tap the Continue on the bottom right corner of the screen. 

Step Nine: Choose Your Material Settings 

When engraving with the Cricut Maker, you have a few choices for materials. But I get the best results when I use the Stainless Steel Material Setting. This setting has the most force and will give you the deepest engraving results. 

Step Nine: Engrave!

Load your mat into your Cricut machine by placing it in the tracts and pressing the Load/Unload button. 

When the little Cricut “go” button on the machine starts to blink your machine is ready to use. Press the button. On your screen, you’ll see the estimated time to engrave.

Step Ten: Check Your Design Then Unload the Mat

Once you’ve finished engraving, and BEFORE you unload the mat, check that the engraving seems deep enough. Keep in mind that you can darken the design with one of the coloring products I’ll mention below.

If not, press the Cricut Go button again to repeat the entire pross.

If it looks good, press the Unload button. Peel up the tape and blot over the engraving to remove the debris that accumulated as it was engraved.

If the piece is large, it helps to flip over the mat and then pry the galvanized metal from it. And you did it! 

Step Eleven: Finish the Project (optional)

There are different ways to darken the design; I talk about them in my post on the Best Tools and Materials for Engraving.

For this project, I use black gilder’s paste. It’s super easy to use; just swipe it across your design. And then wipe again to remove excess. Do this a few times. (I really love this product and a little goes a looooong way).

Then, just add a jute string to your tag. Or use metal wire to create a hook for hanging it! This little engraved tag will look amazing on a bag, package, or even on your Christmas tree!


Another Option: Cutting a Paper Template

For more precise positioning, you can cut templates out of heavy cardstock and put the blanks in the hole you cut out. If you do, you may want to tape down your blank to the mat with double-stick tape, as well as tape around the blank like you normally would.

This type of template helps with positioning and is reusable- it’s also kind of a cheater’s version of the jig method for alignment that you can find on the CleverSomeday YouTube channel.

And You’re Done! You’ve Engraved Galvanized Metal!

And they said it couldn’t be done. 😎 Pshaw- You did it!

With a little imagination, you can do all kinds of cute signs, gift tags, placeholders, bookmarks, or garden markers.

These also definitely rock the farmhouse vibe. I think they’d be super cute at a wedding as part of the table décor. And at my church I engraved some of these tags with the church’s name and logo then hung them inside of little wood lanterns as centerpieces. Super cute!


Watch the YouTube Video


More Questions About Engraving Metal?

How Do You Start Engraving Metal?

I do have a great beginner post, How to Start Engraving Metal with a Cricut Maker which asks and then answers all of the most popular questions about engraving with a Cricut.

What Do You Engrave Metal with?

You can engrave metal with a handheld rotary engraver, an industrial laser cutter (like the Glowforge), or with a Cricut electronic cutting machine.

I talk a bit about the pros and cons of each in my starter guide to engraving.

What is the Easiest Way to Engrave Metal?

I have a Cricut Maker and so that’s what I love to use to engrave metal. I can create any design I like, and then engrave it with great results.

I think it’s easier than doing it by hand, where you would need a pattern or template to follow manually. And it doesn’t take hand strength. Plus, I can start my Cricut and walk away.

What Metals Can You Engrave with a Cricut?

Cricut only lists a few metals in its Materials Settings. So I tested more and found 14 different metals that you can engrave with a Cricut.

I have a full list, plus a cheat sheet for the materials settings in my post, 14 Surprising Metals You Can Engrave with a Cricut.


Check Out the Holiday Showcase!

Looking for more holiday designs? I have 13 blogging friends that got together to share craft projects with you! You can see more about these in this post. Get the free files before it ends Nov. 21st!


For More Inspiration

Is this your first-time engraving? I have a Quick Start to Engraving Cheatsheet that you can download from my Free Library as well as a blog post that will answer any questions you have! 

How to Start Engraving with a Cricut

Love this? Share it!

If you found this post helpful I would LOVE to have you share it on social media. Be sure to tag me on either FB or IG so I can see what you’ve made! And be sure to join my Engraving Metals Facebook Group too!

Thanks for Reading,

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