It is the small things in life that put the widest smile on people’s faces, and something like an engraved spoon is one of them. It is a beautiful, customized, and practical kitchen tool or ornamental decor.
Engraving spoons is a way of making thoughtful gifts because everything about them screams special. You can personalize them with a witty or memorable message, special dates, names, and artistic graphics.
How do you engrave spoons? You engrave spoons using engraving devices that cut into the surface of the spoon. There are various types of engraving tools including hand engravers, rotary engravers, and laser engravers.
Engraving spoons at home is possible and is less complicated than most people think. With the right information, tools, practice and patience, you can achieve the same refined results as a professional engraver.
If you’ve been shelving a lot of creative ideas that you felt would look perfect engraved on spoons, this is the ultimate guide to get started.
In this article we dish out all the valuable tips you need to know about the types of engraving spoons and efficient tools for the job.
Types Of Spoons For Engraving
The first step to engraving spoons is choosing the type of spoon to engrave. Spoons are made out of a variety of materials. Wood, metal, silicon, and plastic are the most common.
Which is the best type of spoon to engrave? The best kind of spoon to engrave depends on the engraving technique you want to use, your skill level, and your personal preference.
A wooden spoon is the best type of spoon to engrave at home, especially as a beginner. It is easiest to engrave, inexpensive, readily available, and versatile enough for all engraving techniques.
A metal spoon is the best type of spoon to engrave if looking for permanence and durability. It is also versatile and ubiquitous, just like wood.
It is rare, though not impossible, to engrave on plastic and silicone spoons since these get damaged and replaced quickly in homes. Plastic may also break into microplastics quickly at the gorges and it is just toxic, you don’t want to engrave that.
People will mark impressions on things they expect to be keepsakes and proudly admired for a long time. For that reason, wooden and metal spoons will be our primary focus.
Choosing Wooden Spoons For Engraving
Wooden spoons are a favorite in many kitchens due to their being natural, biodegradable, strong, heat-resistant, and non-reactive. They come in various shapes, sizes, and of course, the type of wood.
You can engrave any type of wooden spoons though those made from softwood are easier to engrave by hand, Cricut Maker, or with a rotary tool.
Bamboo, alder, maple, balsa, cherrywood, pine, birch, basswood, and walnut are all great for this kind of project.
If you are going for laser engraving, you’ll get better results with wooden spoons made from wood with straight and closed grain, and that are lighter in color. Hardwoods tend to take finer details far better than softwoods when laser engraved.
Wooden spoons are usually unfinished for apparent reasons. But for the sake of a few exceptions such as spoons for decorative purposes, we must mention that you need to engrave on unfinished wood. Any finish will be destroyed by engraving.
Choosing Metal Spoons For Engraving
Stainless steel is the most popular material for making spoons for domestic use. Aluminum and silver are ubiquitous too.
If you are engraving spoons to give as customized practical utilities one can use at the table; we suggest going with stainless steel or aluminum.
Gold, copper, and brass metals do make spoons, though rarely used for culinary use in homes. These are essentially created for antique and ornamental purposes.
All these metals can be engraved with relative ease. Some are harder than others but not impossible to cut through.
That said, stainless steel is one of those resilient metals to engrave by hand but possible with high-powered tools. You’ll get an engraving but not with deeper grooves than metals like silver, sterling silver, and other silver alloys, which are much softer.
Copper and brass make the softest metal spools and are therefore novice-friendly. If you can get a few for practice and gaining confidence, that would be great. You can gorge out deeper grooves effortlessly.
Tools Needed For Spoon Engraving
After picking the material you want to work with, you must also choose tools for the job. There are four ways of engraving spoons. Each of them works well for both wood and metal spoons but varies widely in cost and capability.
If you’re considering buying an engraving pen, we have another article waiting for you!
Using Handheld Rotary Tools
Rotary engraving tools offer a fast and hands-on way of engraving spoons. These are highly motorized devices with fine-tipped drill bits that rotate at ultra-high speed to cut through, burnish surfaces, and engrave details.
These engravers can be corded or cordless. The corded models are more powerful and are great for metal spoons. If you want to start with a smaller cordless device, you might like the pen engravers. These are not as powerful thus suitable for soft materials and will do for wooden spoons.
The Dremel brand is a top contender in the industry and has a range of rotary engraving tools, though many other good quality options exist. Opt for diamond or carbide tungsten bits for durability and efficiency.
The best thing about this type of engraver is that you can replace the bit to produce a range of styles and effects. You can switch between diamond, chisel, fine, rounded, v-shaped tips, among others.
There are no rules with this type of engraving. You can imprint anything whether freehand or tracing from a stencil.
For beginners, we recommend outlining the text or design you want to engrave first. You can use a pencil for wooden spoons and a fine tip marker or scriber for metal spoons.
For an easy time, keep things simple, and use two parallel lines to guide your lettering alignment. Try and space them evenly and not too close. Your trial designs shouldn’t be finicky or intricate. Bold and basic is better.
Don’t feel artistic enough and can’t find a stencil for your design? No problem. Use carbon paper to trace and transfer it to the spoon.
This type of engraving is hands-on and accompanied by vibrations. It is best to clamp the spoon to a surface before you begin engraving.
- Give you the most freedom. Engraving is possible on any spoon size or shape. You can even change the design halfway. You just do what you want.
- Deeper engraving is attainable by going over several times.
- Very easy to learn. It is non-computerized and less complicated.
- It can be noisy.
- The speed and vibrations make it challenging to control since it is handheld.
- Low precision.
Using Cricut Maker
A lot of people ask whether you can engrave wood or metal with a Cricut Maker. The answer is yes. With a Cricut Maker, you can engrave both wooden and metal spoons.
This is a die and craft plotter and cutting machine that utilizes CNC actuators and cut out patterns using blades. The engraver is an attachment.
However, you must test it out because it may not work for all types of wood and metals. Among the materials mentioned include aluminum, copper, brass, stainless steel, pewter, balsa and basswood.
You must ensure that the spoon’s thickness is less than 1-inch otherwise it will not go through with the mat. You’ll also want to get a firm grip mat and painter’s tape.
Because the engraving is mechanical, you must tape the spoon down not to shift during the process. When the spoon moves about during the process, it could jam the Cricut Maker or result in a misaligned design.
With this type of engraving, customizing your design must be done from the computer. That’s because it is the machine doing the work for you, unlike the handheld engravers that give you the freedom to direct the tip.
For best results, start simple, like with writings or basic outlines shapes. After creating a pattern of the spoon, you’ll upload it.
To make the engraving deeper or more pronounced, double or triplicate the pattern. Next is to center them such that they are stacked on top of one another and appear as just one image.
Remember to change the line setting to engraver, then choose stainless steel or the corresponding material for the spoon. If using a wooden spoon, choose tooling leather as there’s no option for wood.
- The most versatile machine and can create countless other crafts besides engraving. Therefore, it is worth investing in for those craftsy enthusiasts.
- Very precise with details.
- Limits the size and shape of the spoon that can be engraved.
- Once you set and start the engraving, there’s no turning back. You can’t rectify mistakes midway.
- Good knowledge of Cricut is necessary. This may seem complicated for crafters who are not computer savvy. There’s a lot to learn in positioning, designing, and setting up.
- Expensive to buy if you don’t already have a Cricut Maker.
- Mechanical wear and tear after some time.
Using A Laser Engraver
Laser engraving is the third method of engraving spoons. Here you’ll be using a laser engraving machine which is the current buzz. It is the most powerful but also seriously expensive engraving device.
A laser engraving machine is a long-term business investment and is great if you want to do spoon engraving professionally eventually. You can still land good ones for a few hundred dollars for home use.
Unlike the other two, the laser engraver does not come into contact with the spoon simply because it does not utilize blades. The laser engraver emits powerful light beams that do the engraving from above.
You have to set up the artwork using software and also the mode, power and speed needed to engrave wood or metal. These settings will vary from machine to machine.
You must check that the particular model is compatible with the material. Some laser engravers don’t work with wood, and others don’t do with metal.
A common problem you might encounter with laser engravers and your wooden spoons is shadowing. You might realize that the outlines are kind of smoky rather than crisp.
A clever way around this is to cover the spoon with tape before engraving but increase the power slighter. After engraving, strip the tape, and the edges will be perfect.
- Very high precision and intricate detailing is effortless and excellent. You can engrave photos too.
- No frequent wear and tear as it does not utilize mechanical blades.
- Securing the spoons is unnecessary since the engraving process needs zero-contact with the surface.
- Initial investment capital is high if you do not already have the machine.
- You need computer and software knowledge.
- The light is sensitive to color. Results are not consistent across various tones of the spoons.
- The engraving is more of a mark or burn and not a groove with depth and texture which is the traditional appeal of engraving.
Using Hand Gravers
Some people prefer to engrave the old school way, like how it was done before all these power cutters were invented. If you are one of them, then hand engraving using gravers might be for you.
With this style of engraving, one draws or traces out a design on the spoons then uses the gravers to engrave manually. There are metal and wood gravers.
Gravers are like miniature chisels with smooth handles or knobs at the end. They work like an extension of your finger. To make an incision, one has to apply pressure while pushing downwards and forward skillfully.
They come in assorted thicknesses and tip shapes for a range of grooves, lines, and dots. The current bits of rotary engravers are actually borrowed from traditional hand gravers.
Diamond gavers, scopers, spit stickers, and tint tools are some examples of tools you might need, though you can use just one chisel throughout the design. A hammer or mallet may be used as well.
As simple as it sounds, hand engraving is a challenging art to master. It requires great handy skills, steadiness, and perseverance to execute smoothly and is not for the faint hearted.
One has to calculate angles of attack and apply consistent pressure to not dig too deep.
It may take many hours to complete for huge projects, but it shouldn’t for small designs on spoons. It is the slowest way to engrave spoons but can be relaxing, meditative, and satisfying on a quiet afternoon.
- Low start-up cost. You can do it with just one basic groover for simple designs.
- No noise. Tools work quietly.
- No need for power. You work from anywhere, even while relaxing somewhere outdoors. Great for saving energy
- Very slow.
- Messy and unrefined engraving if you do not know what you are doing.
- A lot of post-processing needed, sanding and smoothing edges.
- Intricate details require skills you cannot acquire in a day.
Preparation For Spoon Engraving
Various forms of preparation are necessary before beginning any crafting ,and engraving spoons is no different. There’s a need to prepare the working surface, the spoons, and the engraver.
Safety Precautions Before Engraving Spoons
Safety precautions must be taken seriously anytime one is utilizing sharp or electric-powered tools for crafting. But for engraving, it is much more than that.
Whenever a surface is engraved except by laser, it produces a lot of fine dust. In this case, wood dust or metal dust. When inhaled, this dust is toxic as it can cause or aggravate symptoms of allergic reactions, asthma, and other life-threatening lung conditions.
The dust may also enter your eyes, causing redness, irritation, swelling, and even damage to the eye tissues.
Here are some safety measures to take when engraving spoons:
- Don goggles or some form of protective eyewear so that your eyes are protected from dust. Ensure that it is clear and does not obscure what you are working on because the actual view is equally important.
- Wear a dust mask or respirator if you have one for guaranteed protection. The mask shields your nose from inhaling any dust that gets suspended into the air during engraving.
- Have a wet tissue wipe and trap the wood dust immediately when you are done with a particular section. Avoid blowing it off of the spoon. For metal, lift the dust with tape or tacky cloth.
- Wear gloves to prevent accidental grazes, nicks and cuts. This again applies to rotary tools usage and laser machines. The drill bits run at a super speed with vibrations, and sometimes you may unintentionally lose grip and control, hurting yourself. You’ll also prevent metal shards from embedding on your skin.
Preparing The Spoons
Before preparing the spoons, you have to decide on what part the engraving goes. Is it the handle, back, or inside (bowl) of the spoon?
One key consideration when engraving spoons is to go with flat ones because a flat surface is easier to engrave regardless of the tool you choose. While it is possible to engrave curves, you don’t want to deal with them the very first time.
For these reasons, flat spatulas, turners, and serving spoons are ideal for engraving inside or at the back of the spoon. But don’t worry if you have your curved or deep bowl favorites. You can always engrave the handle.
Having a couple of cheap spoons will enable you to practice a bit. If you don’t have those, try and find a slab of wood or sheet of aluminum to be your testers.
Wooden spoons are almost always unfinished, unless they are decorative. As a result, they do not need much preparation.
Ensure they are thoroughly clean and dry, and then smooth sand the areas where you will be engraving using a 220 grit sandpaper. And that’s basically it.
For metal spoons, cleanliness is a prerequisite too. You can wash with warm soapy water before rinsing thoroughly.
Alternatively, wipe meticulously with some rubbing alcohol to degrease the surface and remove and oily marks or fingerprints.
Finishing Engraved Spoons
Once you are done engraving and wiping the debris, your engraved spoons are good to go. You can display them or wrap them up as gifts.
You might be wondering, do the engraved spoons need any finishing? Not really, the engraving alone is enough and can stay that way.
Laser engraving in particular may need only a clear coat since it is already dark and striking.
That said, you can opt to finish the pieces to give the engraving better visibility by adding color making it pop. But before you do that, you must consider that spoons are items used in meal preparation and serving, and they go in the dishwasher too.
This raises two main concerns; the safety and durability of the tint. For this reason we recommend, leaving the engraving as it is.
If you must finish engraved spoons, here are tips to go about it.
Oiling your wooden spoon is all it takes to make engraving darker and more noticeable. You can polish the spoons with food-grade oil like tung oil. Oiling is repeated occasionally, like twice a year.
If you opt to use a stain, ink, or paint in the engraving, it must be followed by a hard clear finish. According to FDA, all hard clear wood finishes such as polyurethane are food safe after fully curing.
Here’s how to finish the engraving on spoons:
- First, mask the wooden spoon before engraving. Use a light tack and thin masking tape.
- You’ll then engrave over this tape and spray a clear sealer into the design. It seals the gorges and will prevent the paint/ink from blotting and sinking.
- Once dry, spray paint it with the color of choice, and peel away the mask.
- Weed out the inside of letters such as a, e, o, b, etc. You can use a craft knife or strip them with tape.
- Wait for the paint to dry completely. Now cover the entire design with a brush-on or spray clear coat.
How to darken the engraving on metal spoons:
- Go over the design with a stamp enamel marker, black sharpie, acrylic paint, or Indian/China ink.
- Quickly wipe away the pigment on the surface before it dries. Use something that won’t disturb the pigment in the gorges, like newsprint paper.
- Polish some more with acetone or rubbing alcohol being careful around the engraved edges. Seal with clear coat polyurethane.
We hope this engraving spoon guide inspires you to get started. Remember, practice and patience are crucial to nailing engraving spoons like a pro.