Jig for Engraving Multiple Pencils: Repeatable positioning

I’ve been thinking about the whole alignment thing but haven’t gotten to the point where I had something to test. I won an attendance prize the other day at a luncheon and came home with a beautiful stationery desk set, pastel colors, with 12 pencils that had sayings on them. They are round.

Here is what they ended up looking like:

Here’s how I got there:

I cut a flat piece of cardboard that had two factory edges which I used as the main reference, then used by acrylic framing square that I made to cut the third edge. I just rough cut the top.

I made an 20x12 artboard that had a rectangle the size of the usable area, minus a millimeter or so for a bounding box. I could take this board out as needed. Then I made one slot to hold the pencil and put the engraved text on the slot and grouped them. Then tiled clones to fit the usable bed. I left enough gaps between the slots so the cardboard didn’t wiggle and I made the slots just enough to lay the pencils in without wiggle.

One of the challenges of this design is that the bounding box will group all of the contained slots and engraves and there is no way to individually delete them or move them. You might not always to a full bed. In the end, I really didn’t need to cut a removable rectangle since I could just take the whole piece of cardboard out. But this was to test for other jigs. Keep the frame and just cut a new center.

That’s where turning off a layer comes in. Upload the design with the bounding box visible and cut it and ignore everything else, or you can cut all the slots at the same time. It doesn’t matter. Go box to Inkscape and hide the layer with the bounding box and upload the file again. This time you can select which slots you are going to do.

First I took the completed jig out of the bed to test how it worked placing it back in against the two posts of the garage door. I also had to punch out the slots for the pencils.

First I did some tests engraving:

Then I took it out again and put it back. Reloaded the design. Deleted the slots and engravings that didn’t match up to a pencil and then engraved the pencils.

All the pencils lined up and ready for the engrave.

Before deleting what I don’t need.

Ready for the engrave. I just ignored what I saw on the screen and just let the art board and the cardboard jig do the positioning. 7:47 for the time to engrave the 12 pencils at 340 lpi at 1% power and 335 ipm.

The other side with pre-printed sayings.

So I don’t know if a jig counts as a tool. If so, then it’s false advertising. This was a a fun project that took about an hour to do. Plus another half hour to document. And 10 minutes to figure out the tiled clone settings to make it work. Now I know how to use it. Plus 10 minutes to dial in settings on cardboard a little better. I wanted minimal charring and fast as possible. Not easy to do. 40% power and 60 ipm worked pretty good for this stuff.

Next jig will be out of 1/8" plywood to keep it more rigid and not have the corners get banged up.


As always, excellent project from you!
Thanks for sharing all of the details.


This week was teacher appreciation week.
My kids’ teachers got waterless antibacterial handwash and Kleenex.

Next year, though… It will be so much better.


Ha ha…I was just about to say that one of our teachers once got a set of pencils engraved with “I Stole This From Mr. Smith” on them…he said it was the best gift ever. Kids are always borrowing pencils and rarely do they return!

I think I need “I stole this from the library” ones when mine arrives. :slight_smile:

Awesome idea and tutorial–thank you!!!


My wife taught art.
She had a pencil stand on her desk with about 25 pencils stood up in it at the beginning of class.
Inevitably many were borrowed during the lesson, but she always took one herself.
At the end of the period, she said " No one leave till all the pencils are back"
The holes were always filled !


Oh! Oh! Oh! This is exactly what I want to do! I wonder if Fome-Cor would be rigid enough for a jig?

Awesome project and extremely helpful (but not authoritative! :try_to_be_helpful_but_not_authoritative:)!


Excellent! I love the idea of having one frame with swap-out centers for various jigs. Thanks, as usual, for the detailed write-up. This is extremely helpful.


Good idea on foam core. I’d say it would work.


Great post! You always give a very concise detailed write up, nice work man!


Cool. Thanks for sharing.

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I like it! Very creative. The concept of using the GF to make it’s own mods for repeat cuts/engraves is so perfect, and everytime I see the random jigs and holders you guys make I’m amazed by the creative solutions I never would’ve thought of. Never before did I think to engrave pencils, and suddenly I have the urge to create custom pencils for everyone!


Coool! I can see you adding gears in the future, so that you can spin a wheel, and they all rotate in sync…



Great project! Thanks for the nice write up

Is there a file for this jig?


Yep! It’s this part of the original post:

Right click on it, Save As> SVG.


Thanks, I saw the jpeg but missed saving as SVG!

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Did you engrave any for paying customers? If so what did you charge for the engraving? I have someone who wants to bring me pencils to engrave and I am trying to figure out what to charge without it being too much

No, I just use it for freebies. I have no ideas on commercial use. Sorry.

I’m not able to save the Jig file as an SVG on my Mac. Can someone send me the SVG file please?