Engraving with the Silhouette Cameo

 

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These engraved monogram pendants were a huge hit with my nieces for Christmas. I did some research on different metals and settled on silver plated brass blanks because brass is such a soft metal. They were relatively inexpensive on Amazon and I was able to pick up this this pack of 25 for about $10. If you can’t find brass, aluminum and copper also make great choices. These soft metals etch easily and beautifully. They often need to be etched only one time. whereas harder metals like stainless steel require many passes in order to get a good impression. These charms are great for making jewelry pieces or accents for packaging or gifts.

Supplies

Designing

You need to make a shape in Silhouette Studio the same size as your blank. The etching blanks I purchased were 20mm and my Silhouette Studio is currently set to inches so I did a quick google search for the conversion.

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Using Google to convert millimeters to inches.

 

Make a circle to match the size of your engraving blanks in Silhouette Studio.

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Now to create your design.

I love the Vine Monogram font by Font Bros. If you are using it and you want to get the engraved look, I suggest you use the “inline” setting. It engraves beautifully.

If you can’t see the mat grid lines then you are going to want to show them for placement. Go to your DESIGN PAGE SETTINGS (view > show design page settings) and underneath the cutting mat it says “Reveal”. Move that slider until it is easy to see the mat reference grid.

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Now we need to tell the machine where to etch the design. Place your pendant design on the grid at least three blocks down. You can see that I placed mine at three down and 5 across. (Be sure to avoid the rollers, on the Cameo 2 that is Columns 1,4,6,11&12)

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Engraving

Cut a piece of contact paper a good bit larger than your shape. I’m using a scrap piece that’s at least 4″ long on each side. Apply it sticky side up and roughly centered over the spot where we will etch.

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You might notice a book under my Silhouette mat. While this is not necessary, I felt that it helped to give the mat some extra support and kept it from bending and forcing the engraving blank to pop off. I’m not sure if this was a legitimate concern, but it is nice to make the old college yearbook feel useful again.

Now load your mat and insert your  The Etching ToolDO NOT REMOVE YOUR MAT AGAIN UNTIL THE ENTIRE PROCESS IS COMPLETE. 

We are going to etch a circle into the contact paper where our pendant will go. We don’t want to etch the entire design, just the circle. So Under Cut Style select “Cut Edge”. This will only etch the outside circle.

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Set your blade to “Sketch Pen”, Speed to “9”, Thickness “5”, and check Double Cut. Then Send to Silhouette but do not remove your mat when the cutting is complete. You should be left with a nice circle impression on the Con-tact paper.

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Without removing your mat, place your engraving blank in that circle and press it down into the contact paper. It should not move if you try to wiggle it.

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Now we are going to etch our design. We don’t want to etch the outside shape because it could  scratch our blank or knock it off. So select the outside circle and choose NO CUT. Now, only your design should be showing in bold. It is the only thing that will etch.

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Set your blade to “Sketch Pen”, Speed to “9”, Thickness “33”. Then Send to Silhouette.

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With the brass blanks, I’m usually happy with one pass. But you might need to send it through several times for a harder metal. As long as you don’t remove the mat or the blank, you can send it through as many times as you’d like to get a deep etching.

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Here’s my niece Evi showing off her engraved pendant. She chose to pair hers with a charm necklace. Adorable!!

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19 thoughts on “Engraving with the Silhouette Cameo

  1. Awesome project and great job on your tutorial! I love this idea and now I’m off to get the engraving tool. Should’ve ordered it ages ago when I got my pen and marker holders.

  2. Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I bought the Chomas engraving tool a year ago and I haven’t even tried it out yet. I like your tutorial better than some I’ve seen so I’m ready to get started. Thanks again. Looking forward to more tutorials.

  3. You inspired me – i didn’t have the cutter so i used a engraver from the hdw store and the pen holder.. Try using print and cut – first cut out the shape of your item, then it will fit in the hole and get stuck to the mat below, since print & cut re-registers each job – it can run over the same lines even if you take the mat out to check on things….

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/SilhouetteCAMEOProjectInspiration/permalink/534970963335287/

  4. This is a cool project. Here is my question, Silhouette or Cricut? I have an older Cricut but want to upgrade and I am not sure the direction to travel as Im still on the fence!

    1. I’ve never used a Cricut machine but have been using Silhouette machines for almost six years; I’m afraid that I might be a bit biased! I do love my Silhouette machines, I use the Cameo all the time for vinyl products and just purchased a Curio. I can’t wait to post some Curio tutorials, the solid platforms and 5mm clearance opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Silhouette Studio is quite impressive as far as free software goes, there isn’t much that can’t be done with it. It’s really fun to watch my ideas evolve into creations.

      My advice would be to figure out what you want to do with your machine and then do some research to determine which one best fits your needs. Let me know if I can answer any specific questions about the Silhouette. I do love to talk about my machines. 😉

  5. I just received a curio for Christmas so this tut is super helpful for not just engraving but also figuring out placement on curio embossing mat since it comes unlined!

    1. The Curio is the ideal machine for engraving. A couple of tips – use your lined mat and when you make the impression in the contact paper, turn the thickness way down or it might cut through it. The Curio seems to have more pressure than the Cameo, I think it has something to do with the solid platforms. Keep an eye on the blog, I plan to add Curio engraving pictures and settings along with a couple of other fun tutorials. I am having so much fun with my Curio, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      1. Do you have to have the curio to do this or can you do it on the cameo? Do I need to buy the engraver and pen holder to do this?

    1. That is a really good question. I have been researching it and haven’t found a definitive answer for you. Metals that are a 3 or below on the Moh’s hardness scale typically engrave easily. Pewter is a combination of Tin (1.5 on the Moh’s scale) and another metal to make it stronger. I do not know the final hardness of the metal alloy, my guess is that it depends on what metals are combined. Unfortunately I don’t have any pewter laying around or I’d give it a try. Let me know if you decide to engrave some pewter, I’m dying to know if it works!

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