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How to Engrave a Pen? – 3 Methods

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to engrave a pen

Engraving a pen is one of the inexpensive and thoughtful ways to personalize your gift, whether it is for a loved one, a friend, or a close colleague. As a pen connoisseur, customizing your pen adds a unique and timeless piece to your collection.

Apart from their elegance and simplicity, custom pen decorations and permanent engravings make these writing implements truly one of a kind. You can make your pens special, too!

In this article, we will learn different techniques on how to engrave a pen and the designs you can try on various pen materials.

Different Ways to Engrave a Pen

Option 1: Rotary Engraving

Many pen engraving businesses use rotary engraving machines for faster production, smooth and messy-free engraving, and enhanced precision, especially when accommodating bulk orders.

These machines operate on vector-based files to produce basic designs like texts or shapes, making them easier to process. They also engrave much faster on plastic materials compared to laser machines.

For more information, you can check this video tutorial.

Best For: Basic designs, deep finishes, and bulk production

Skill Required: Beginner to experienced users

How to Use It

  • Check the instructions before using the machine. Typically, you need to program the machine’s system and set it according to your preferred engraving process and design.
  • Position the pen.


Place the blank pen between the clamps. Make sure it is tight and secure.

  • Check the settings.


Double check the settings for your design and engraving process. Press the start button to commence the process.

  • Remove the pen.


Take the pen out of the fixture clamp carefully when the engraving process is finished.

Option 2: Laser Engraving

A laser engraving machine utilizes a beam of light, vaporizing the material to modify the surface. This type of machine is usually integrated with software for hassle-free operation.

Unlike a rotary engraving tool, this method does not physically carve out the material to create a design. The main advantage of laser pen engraving is the ability to conduct simultaneous engraving processes and produce artistic designs and intricate patterns.

For more information, you can check this video tutorial.

Best For: Intricate patterns, convenient setup, and quick engraving

Skill Required: Beginner to experienced users

How to Use It

  • Refer to the machine’s instructions for the correct process.

Every laser engraving machine has its respective instructions for smooth operation and compatibility with materials.

Most of these machines come with user-friendly software to help you customize designs, allowing you to accomplish multiple DIY pen engraving projects at home.

  • Position the pens in the laser engraving machine.


Make sure the blue light is beamed at the center of the pen, indicating the design’s correct position. The machine usually has a knob or toggle to adjust this.

  • Check the settings and choose your design.


Refer to the machine’s integrated software for the customization and position of your design.

  • Start the process.


When you’re all done with the customization of your design, proceed with the engraving process. Close the lid and hit the start button. Don’t open the lid until the process is done.

  • Remove the pens from the machine.

After the process is complete, open the lid and take the pens out of the machine.

Option 3: Hand or Manual Engraving

Many artists and hobbyists prefer using handheld pen engravers for superior control and portability.

These tools are typically engineered with a spinning tip that physically carves designs onto the barrel’s surface. It can create long-lasting engravings on different pen materials such as wood, plastic, and metal. So, if you feeling creative, this can be a nice try.

Video Tutorial

Best For: Permanent engravings with basic to medium complex designs

Skill Required: Beginner to advanced users (requires some learning curve and practice for complex designs)

How to Use It

  • Consider the pen material and test your handheld tool.

Pen barrels are usually made of metal, plastic, or wood. From our experience, many use rotary handheld tools for various materials while some are more familiar with an electric pencil engraver for wood pen barrels.

Whichever your choice is, always test the tool and practice on scrap material before working directly on your pen.

  • Choose your preferred attachment based on your desired design.


Rotary engraving tools typically come with various attachments that you can interchangeably use to create basic to complex carvings.

  • Use a pencil to draw an outline of your design.


If you want to engrave name on pen surfaces, begin with simple font styles and basic strokes, especially if you’re a beginner.

  • Turn on the rotary engraver and start carving on the scrap material.


Make sure to hold the tool with a good grip to provide better control. The initial etchings won’t have to be deep as you can always go back to remake and define them.

Use the tool with moderate pressure. Applying too much pressure will damage the material, but holding it too lightly will cause the engraver to slip.

  • After deciding on your desired design and testing the tool, proceed to the actual engraving process.


Prepare your blank pens. Hold the rotary engraver tool with a good grip and use it the way you practiced it. Guide the tool in the right direction and carve the pen material gently and carefully.

  • Clean the surface.


Use a small soft brush to remove any dust residues.


In a nutshell, there are different ways on how to engrave a pen, depending on your skill and preferred design. You can create customized pen designs for versatile and personalized gift ideas for your family and friends, or a treat for yourself.

While some methods may require a bit of a learning curve and practice, pen engraving is an accessible craft for pen connoisseurs, hobbyists, and artists alike.

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