Etching Brass for a Journal // Custom Made Gift

Hi, everyone!
I’ve not posted in a while. Just too busy with all the things.

I made a custom gift a couple of months ago for my mom on Mother’s Day. She likes to journal and I found a nice one. Then, I wanted to customize it, so I picked up some sheet brass.

I made a video on my YouTube channel about the entire process:

I’ve read on here about people using Cermark on steel and some other metals, but an alternative is Dry Moly Lube, so I picked up a can of that. At the time I looked, one can of Cermark was $80 and I got this Dry Moly Lube for about $11.

After cleaning the brass with some 0000 steel wool, I put on 3 light coats of Dry Moly Lube, letting it dry in between. Then, it was to the Glowforge!

Here’s what it looked like right out of the Glowforge:

(I know…my alignment is slightly off. I’ll live with it.)

Then, I just used some high proof rubbing alcohol and a paper towel to rub off the excess marking spray. This worked really well, and actually gave the brass a cool patina.

I laid out where I wanted the little brass plate and attached it using some contact cement. When I was done, I had a really cool looking, brass-adorned journal. My mom loved it.


Thanks for checking out the project! Let me know what you think!


Great result. Impressive.


Oh, that’s fantastic…my mom would love something like that! (And another rabbit hole to fall into. ) :smile:


I gave this to her back at Mother’s Day, and so far, she still won’t use it. Ha ha. She’s afraid to mess it up because she thinks it’s so nice

Silly, but flattering.


Thank you, sir! I definitely want to try it out on some more stuff.

Just a note, you did not etch the brass, you marked it. Etching removes material. While this may seem like a subtle distinction and one that doesn’t matter, there are a lot of users who are trying to etch material by removing material, which the GF cannot do with most metals. I would like to see us current users get away from using the term “etch” for metals unless you are actually removing the material.

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Very nice engrave. The Dry Moly black on this looks as good as Cermark.

This is the place where a laser engraver/cutter is a “3D Printer” :grin:


Thanks, Jim!
I agree…I really liked the end result. I thought the contrast was great. I’m looking forward to doing more with it.

I understand the distinction, and you’re technically right.
I titled my video the way I did on purpose, as well as this post. It just doesn’t sound as good to say, “Mark brass for a journal…”

I get that I technically didn’t remove any material, although some on this forum have said that there might be a level of removal on different materials when combined with a marking spray like this or different compound. Therefore, we both might technically be right.

Anyway, the larger point I was trying to make is that Dry Moly Lube could help you with a metal like brass, and that it is significantly cheaper than Cermark (when I made this video, Cermark was $80 for one spray can). The brand name might work really well, but it is 8x more expensive than what I used.

I have seen a few people post about Dry Moly Lube (that’s where I got the idea) here on the forum, but mostly, I’ve seen it used on steel and some other metals. I’ve not seen it used much (or at least not at the time I did the experiment back in May) on brass.

Thanks for checking it out!


Gosh, that came out great! I’ve heard of the moly lube and keep meaning to try it but so far I haven’t.


You should give it a try. I think I first heard of it from @Tom_A maybe?

Not I. I really want to try it out though. But I think I’ll also get actual Cermark and compare.

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Cermark works great, but based on some pictures I’ve seen of Moly Lube usage, I’m not sure the Cermark is worth the price.

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Depends on the material. Cermark is always a dark black. Moly can range from gray to black depending on the material it’s applied to. So if Moly works it’s great but sometimes you may want to spend the extra bucks for Cermark results.


Is this the stuff?

CRC 03084 11oz Dry Moly Lubricant Aerosol Spray (Limited Edition)

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Yep. That’s it.

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What’s the difference between the Dark Gray Moly Lube and the Limited Edition, other than one is Prime and one isn’t? They seem the same. They claim it’s a color choice, but maybe that’s an SEO trick by the vendor. Vendors did that to us when I worked for a large disappearing retailer in eCommerce. The Limited Edition adds over $16 in shipping.


I dom’t see any difference between them. They both seem to have the same product number, and I don’t see anything about a limited edition anywhere else.

Me either, I think it’s a way for the other vendor to add $16 and get visibility. What do you think @DesignsByPhil?


Searched. Couldn’t find anything about another color