Engraving Review

Glass Etching

What is glass etching?

Glass etching is defined as the roughening of glass to produce a design.

Glass etching creates a frosted look and may be used to carve an image deep into the glass or to produce a shallower airbrushed look.

Glass is usually etched using acid, sand or a grinding wheel.

A Glass etching

glass etching
Done with a sand blasting machine
Note the frosted look

In the past it was most common to etch glass with acid. Wax was painted on the glass to keep the acid off the parts of the glass that were not to be etched. Using acid was quite dangerous as the acid required (Hydorfluoric acid) gives off very poisonous fumes when placed on glass.

Nowadays, glass is most commonly etched by blasting it with sand blown in a high powered jet of air or water. Etching with sand in an air jet produces very fine glass dust which can cause lung problems, so protective masks and googles must be worn. Sand blasting usually produces a coarser look, similar to the appearance of glass you may find tumbled by the ocean on a sandy beach.

Glass may also be etched as a hobby, by buying a glass etching kit from a craft store. These kits include a special abrasive etching cream and materials to make stencils on the glass. Basically, all you do is clean the glass, draw your picture on the stencil, cut out the stencil and stick it on the glass, then rub the abrasive etching cream on the glass.


A glass etching machine
glass etching machine
Works by using sand blasting
Sand blown in a high pressure air jet
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