Glass Engrave - Advice/Help/Thoughts?

So I decided to take the plunge into glass engraving and design a bitters bottle. I read up on everyone else’s tribulations and successes dating back a few years. I finally settled on some settings and learned how to set the GF up sans bed.

After engraving my first bottle, I was thrilled with the results. It really looks amazing and the detail always impresses me. So when I run my fingertips over the surface, it feels smooth except for tiny, sharp snags. So I scraped at the snags with my fingernail and the etched portion chipped off. Okay, so I know some of you have been through this already - I decided to scrape off all the tiny chips, revealing the unchipped glass beneath. It was pretty painstaking.

What I ended up with was a bottle with a nice deep etch, but very noticeably fainter in normal lighting. I couldn’t decide which I liked better, but eventually settled on the version with chips removed. While it’s much more subtle, it’s also pleasantly tactile.

Here’s my question to you more experienced makers: Are there settings that will actually break the chips away from the surface fully? Or at minimum make it easier to remove them (gorilla tape, etc)? Would a second pass help? Higher resolution?

I’m hoping for any and all advice on this. These bottles are not decorative, they’re meant to be used. Thank you in advance!


They are both nice, however if you make it with a strong masking and paint the result all those sharp bits will be rounded by the paint and protect the paint from being scraped off.

Alternatively the secret of glue-chip texture is rabbit skin glue often used in leatherwork that dries and shrinks creating tremendous forces. Regular glue-chip is first treated with hydrofluoric acid (which is horrid stuff) to give the glue a grip , you will have created that with the engraving and so could skip that step, and painting over the masking will keep any gripping where it is not engraved.
You might have to experiment with the proper thickness etc. but you might find really nice results.


Excellent advice. My folks used to refurbish player pianos, so they might have some hide glue pellets around somewhere.

Thank you!


This is what I was thinking about…


Yep, that’s the stuff. Most of the parts that are glued together on a piano are attached with this stuff.


This is what I think of….
Cry baby cry, make your mama sigh…


The etching looks really nice!!

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This will sound counterintuitive, but you may be using too much power, which is why your chips are so large and flaking. A little less power will lead to smaller cracks and you won’t have that spalling problem. Whether or not that gives you the look you’re going for remains to be seen, but if you’re getting flaking in glass or stone engraved it’s usually because of using too much power.


Thank you. I’m going to experiment a little with the settings I think. I’m newish to GF, so I’m always nervous about trying my own settings tweaks. But your advice makes sense. I’ll report back with results.


Now THAT’S a rabbit hole! :joy: