View Full Version : Interested in Engraving but clueless!

Joe Greer
10-26-2011, 11:19 PM

I run a computer consulting firm. I recently purchased all of the computer equipment from a local engraving shop that went out of business. That sparked my interest in engraving. I am particularly interested in engraving chrome motorcycle parts (gas caps, derbys, etc.. small stuff). Well... that's where is started. I found this site and started reading, and reading, and reading... so now I wouldn't mind expanding on that to some wood and plaques.

So - I have an entire engraving shop's computer equipement, complete with Corel and quite a few others. I did some searching both here and on the net and it looks like a Chinese engraver is what I want, especially since this will be more of a hobby/small scale type thing, not putting bread on the table. I don't image that speed is very important. Space isn't an issue. Since I'm looking at more of a hobby so cost is very important.

What would I need to engrave chrome motorcycle parts? Can whatever I buy for doing these parts also be used for some wood projects and similar? I thought that I needed a 50watt laser with rotary attachment but after spending around 12 hours reading these threads I have absolutely no idea!! Any help would be very greatly appreciated.

While I can't assist with engraving (yet)... I would be more than happy to lend my computer expertise!

Thanks to all ahead of time. I look forward to hopefully starting a new hobby and buidling some relationships here!


Bruce Volden
10-27-2011, 1:36 AM

You didn't mention what all the engraving shop items were that you purchased? Be it diamond drag, rotary, laser.....

I for one will say that I have given up on LASER engraving chrome as I have found that not all chrome is "created equally", by that I mean I have had more failures than success.

However, since you have already purchased the necessary items for engraving / marking it's time to experiment! You will be able to engrave wood, leather, solid surfaces, granite, marble, paper, plastics....... the list goes on. You will be able to "mark" stainless steel, knives, belt buckles, miscellaneous metals (FORGET silver, gold, brass, copper, and some aluminum). The fun will start when you're ready. Let us know when you jump in by posting some pic's.


Dan Hintz
10-27-2011, 6:51 AM
Bruce is right on... chrome is so variable in makeup, you really don't want to get into marking random customer-purchased parts. Your best bet is to do large runs that you can experiment on one or two parts to get the settings right. Also, keep in mind you will not be engraving metal parts, per se, but marking them... this is done by first coating them with a marking substance (e.g., Cermark/Thermark) and then lasering. Time consuming, but worth it for the right price. If you intend to work with metal, I would not go lower than 50W, and I would consider something more powerful if you can afford it... marking metal takes a lot of slow, intense heat, so a strong tube is a necessity.

Joe Greer
10-27-2011, 8:54 AM
Thanks. I don't own any engraving equipment at all.. yet. I only bought all of their computer equipment and got interested when I went into the shop and started checking out the computer equipment. I would love to engrave the chrome on my motorcycle and find there are a ton of others I know who like the look of engraved parts too.

The engravers I've seen have flatbeds. What is needed to do items with a curve to it? How about rounded item?

Another dumb question (really, please forgive my ignorance, I really have been trying to learn) - What is the rotary attachment? I was under the impression it was for rounded items.


Martin Boekers
10-27-2011, 9:22 AM
Joe what area are from?

Joe Greer
10-27-2011, 9:25 AM
Martin, I'm just south of Pittsburgh.


Martin Boekers
10-27-2011, 9:48 AM
The reason I ask is there are a few trade shows through out the year. ARA this is in Las Vegas in Mar of 2012 realy consider going to this show.
It will be worth the investment. Last I check for packages air & hotel out of St Louis there were deals for under $700 5 nights. see the ARA website
for more info.

NBM is another show, this hits about 4 different cities a year, this show is much smaller, but it has engraving, signage and printwear all in one.

Most the times at these show manufacturers have a special or a sale for their demo piece so check it out.

A rotary device is for engraving glasses and bottles, not sure I would spend the extra bucks on that unless you feel you can do a bunch of work with it.

YouTube has an incredible amount of videos on engraving and using software. Since you are starting out, I would develop a "Bookmarks" folder system
so as you go you can catagorize different sites such as, Vendors, software, tutorials Sawmill Creek threads any thing you find along the way that you
may need at a later date.

You will find that many engravers also have vinyl cutters, CNC machines, Dye Sub, printers etc. It's hard to make a living promoting just one service.

You jumped right in with reading many hours of posts! That's what is recommended to newcomers. (most don't want to take the time) So
that shows you are serious. Good luck! You found the right forum in SMC!

Joe Greer
10-28-2011, 1:01 AM
Thanks for the help everyone. I appreciate the replies. Thankfully this clears up stage 1 of my research!

Anthony Scira
10-28-2011, 1:46 PM
If I had to do it over again I would make the ShopBot purchase before the laser.