Settings for engraving painters' tape?

Hello! I’m using blue painter’s tape as a resist for chemically etching brass. I engrave away the tape in areas to be etched. It works well for large area, but I’m having trouble with fine lines; I think because of tape residue left behind.

Does anyone have experience with settings that will cut a clean narrow line, while burning away the residue?

I know another solution is a lower tack tape; I’m going to try that, but I’ve got a lot of blue tape, so making that would would be nice. Thanks.


Are you having issues with vertical fine lines in particular?

In general, that means that you’re trying to go too quickly. If you slow down a bit you’re likely to get better results.

I have an example of this in action, but the project is about an engraved mink skull. Clickl through is you don't mind skulls.

Engraving failure on mink skull (warning: pictures of a skull)


Not in any particular direction, it’s just the width of the line that’s the issue. To be clear, I’m engraving on blue painter’s tape. The goal is to completely ablate the tape in the engraved areas. I think the problem is that the tape leaves a residue, which interferes with the etching. So I need a setting solution specific to painter’s tape. (And you’re right, adjusting the speed will be part of the solution. I was just hoping to save myself a bunch of testing)

The skull is really cool! Thanks for sharing.


is there a reason you’re engraving instead of just cutting the outlines? i presume it may be too complicated to weed the tape off easily?


I’m not cutting outlines, I’m cutting very fine lines, where I want the line itself to be engraved into the metal.


How fine are your lines that aren’t working?

Not what you asked but have you considered using a paint layer as resist?

There is also another post here about cutting resist on the Aura (for copper), which used polyester film.

With the blue painter’s tape I think the adhesive melting is going to be a big challenge. I wish I had some settings for you to use but I use other techniques for cutting resists. Anyway hoping this is useful at least for the oracal link:


Imagine fine pencil lines. I can see the metal through the lines the GF engraved, but the etchant isn’t penetrating. I hadn’t thought about the adhesive melting; that might not be solvable.

I’ve tried spray paint with similar issues; it seems I’m not ablating all the paint, even though it looks clear. But I know it’s been used successfully, so maybe I should give it another try.

Ultimately I need mask that will let me do fine lines. For larger areas, I’ve successfully used transfer paper, tape, and vinyl (cut on a Cricut), all of which work great.


Someone (@evansd2 ?) used elmer’s glue as a resist and said it worked brilliantly…

Here it is:


That’s fascinating, thank you. I’m going to have to set up a bunch of tests; I’ll add glue to the list.