Pen Barrel Engrave: Snapmarks and fixture

I was asked to engrave the name and date for the ordination of a priest. A colleague of mine who does wood turning (he’s even done the cowboy hat on the lathe. He’s good) asked me to engrave on some pen blanks he turned for a friend of his who is getting ordained. Easy enough project, but given the dimensions of the pen and the roundness of the object, it required some prep.

He gave me three white oak barrel blanks and two olive wood barrel blanks. Should have been enough to get the job done. Well, barely.

First step was just to make a cardboard jig. I had measured one of the white oak blanks and it was within focus length so I was good to go.

I had been used to measuring materials thickness in inches but in this case did millimeters. Whoops. The one blank I had was within focus distance, less thatn a 1/2 inch. So the 3D printed blank I made for extra security for practice was ok for the test. But when I went to do the actual white oak barrels, the first one I picked was thicker than 1/2". Couldn’t understand why the engrave was not crisp. Forgot to take a picture of it before I sent it away. Anyway, it dawned on me that even though the Glowforge was not giving an error for something too thick, it still didn’t focus right with the set focus command. I had measured a barrel and it was ok, but the other four barrels were thicker, over 1/2".

So then I had to switch to making a fixture to put the engrave surface in the focus area.

A little work in Onshape.

Slice in Slic3r

Fixture out of PLA and a top that includes Snapmarks to make alignment easier.


Looks good.


You are always so amazingly thorough in your approach. You did a great job, Marion!


Hahaha–I love that you 3D printed the jig! I wonder if you could have 3D printed the Snapmarks as well?

The barrel blank came out great!


I printed them standing proud once on a fixture, but the thickness of the marks are a bit too small for my printers. The veneer works great.


Good on you Marion, You chose a good example of the wood. Nice work.
“So, if you ever need any more let me know. I’m all set for it.”


Great write up on your process.


Great idea to 3D print your jig. Plus it!s fun to combine the use of tools.

Will be such nice keepsakes!