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Engraving Methods: Which is Best?


Hand Engraving:

The engraver uses a diamond point to cut slightly into the metal.  


It holds the beauty and tradition of a human touch: there are no machine involved.  Freestyle or not, it gives the engraver more opportunity for creativity.  A person applying pressure will always do so unevenly and that gives the item an old-time look and feel.  Even when using a guide (recommended) for the text, the lines of the letters might shake. 

There is more room for mistake, only trust the best of pros for this method.



Limitation of fonts (you do not have access to the hundreds of Microsoft's fonts.

It's easier for a human to make mistakes.  Older engravers tend to be better at it, but even the best of pros can make mistakes!


Machine Engraving:

Also called diamond drag: using a diamond point and dragging it to cut into the item.  Same as Hand Engraving but without the human touch.  Although there is plenty of room for the engraver to show his talent in the design of the engraving, the actual engraving will be even in lines and pressure.  Some say it is deeper than Hand Engraving, some say it is less deep.  The truth is depth depends on the material and the type of machine used.


Less room for a human mistake in pressure or a potential typo.  The ability to copy/paste the text gives the customer the opportunity to review the text and approve it prior to the engraving. Ditto with font and font size.  

Machine engraving also gives the opportunity to use and rotate cutters to cut deeper into different types of materials.   


Used mostly for flat items as most machines cannot hold round or circular items such as cups or glasses


Laser Engraving / Etching / Screen Printing:

The term etching can refer to both Chemical Etching, Laser Engraving and Screen Printing, which are 3 completely different methods of engraving.  

As the name states, Chemical Etching uses chemicals to mark the material, so does Screen Printing.

Laser Engraving is gentler on the environment. On pretreated metal, it leaves a mark without creating a dent.  

A laser beam burns the material.  Depending of the power of the beam, it can gently mark paper or be powerful enough to mark steel.


Fast and reliable, it is the favourite of the engraving industry for the volume of items it can mark in record speed.


It cannot mark everything.  It cannot be used during most on-site events due to a lack of proper ventilation. It has more of an industrial look and feel.



The method involve projecting sand onto the object (usually glass or stone).  This method involves first creating a mask to cover the parts of the item we do not want engraved and leaving the open areas to be blasted.


Gold Stamping or Foil Stamping:

Mostly for leather and hard-cover books, the engraver uses a heated foil to mark the item.  








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