Etch a sketch
August 27, 2008 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Metal art/craft question - I need to scratch a design into a lot of cold rolled 22 gauge steel.

My brother is cutting out the designs that I am drawing. Here's the problem. I drew them on with a Sharpie but the ink melted as he torched. Now I'm working with an engraver that is for shit. It might be the actual engraver -- possibly old. Also, it leaves a deeper cut when it is off and I am engraving by hand but I am now killing my hands.

Therefore, I need suggestions on what to use to etch a design into steel so that my brother can follow it with the torch.

Help me hive mind. You're my only hope!!!
posted by Sophie1 to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
The Russians use a pencil with a soft lead.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:54 PM on August 27, 2008

I think we used white chalk?
posted by beckish at 5:55 PM on August 27, 2008

Soapstone is the normal marker for cutting steel.
posted by Mitheral at 6:08 PM on August 27, 2008

Seconding soapstone
posted by hortense at 6:39 PM on August 27, 2008

use a carbide scripe
posted by patnok at 6:45 PM on August 27, 2008

I've burned many holes with a plasma cutter, and the method we employ is to mark out the shape (usually a circle) with a red pencil, then make small indentations with a center punch every 5mm or so along the line. The line evaporates as you burn, but the indentations won't. You burn just inside the indentations, i.e. the scrap side. You finish the edge with whatever mechanical tools you are using and still have the punch-marks to go by as guides for the well-defined edge.

If you think you are a real hot-shot, you burn your kerf half-way through the punch marks, but this is a somewhat advanced technique. Personally I burn just to the margin of the punch marks, or as close as I can to that.

Trust me, this is the way it's really done.
posted by Tube at 9:19 PM on August 27, 2008

The soap stone line remains visible whilst wearing the googles needed for blue tip wrench work.
posted by hortense at 8:49 PM on August 29, 2008

Response by poster: Just for follow up - the soapstone was rubbing off, as was the chalk and pencil. I didn't have enough time for the center punch experiment - I did, however, go out and get a new Dremel with a diamond tip and engraved them all. Worked beautifully.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:49 PM on September 16, 2008

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