Engraving, lasering or etching glass

Looking for some advice on machining or etching glass.

A colleague has a switch panel he’s made which needs a glass cover. It’ll be a touchscreen and so he wants to engrave the “button” designs onto or into the back of the glass, so they’ll be visible from the front.

What’s the best method of doing this?

I have some spring loaded fine engraving tool bits, the typical replaceable carbide tipped Vbits etc, so I guess I could try engraving it.

I’ve also got a 3.8watt laser, so I wondered about masking it, lasering the mask and then acid etching it.

I’ll be doing some test cuts soon, but just wondered if others have any experience or suggestions.

I have a decal cutter, so I used a standard decal stencil (Oracal 651), and armor etch to do this. it takes a few minutes and is permanent.

Agreed. That’s what I do with my Cricut cutter.

There are a couple other threads on here about having a spring loaded backing for a piece of glass and a drag bit in the X-Carve. Might want to look into that if you’re dead set on engraving vs. etching.

“Stufftokeep youentertained” has a video titled “Glass tile CNC engraving project” where he uses a diamond tip drag bit. It looks like what he does would be an option for you.

you can etch glass and mirrors with the jtech

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Was that on glass or a mirror.

Not really worried about what method, I just wanted something that’d be effective. I suspect my spring-loaded engraving bit would compensate for minor errors of I engrave (as opposed to spring-mounting).

I have considered getting (or making) a good drag bit, but never got around to it…

Thanks @LanceTracy , I’ll check it out.

@ShaneBell what method did you use to etch glass?

I understand I can laser off the backing of the mirror (from the back), but I’m not sure how I’d get the laser to do anything to clear glass.

i use cheap black paint to aid in etching then remove paint when finished. the paint acts as a medium to absorb the laser light which inturn heats the glass causing a micro fracture. thats my best guess anyhow

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So do you laser on the painted side or the other side.

Guess i need to go up to the lumber yard and get a few pieces of broken glass and try it. Thanks

Don’t use the craft paper. I just tried it and it burnt right thru the cracft paper and burnt the image onto my waste board. Guess i will try the paint method.

i get photo frames from goodwill and use the glass in them
i use scrap to laser glass on or use a spacer under the glass so the beam is out of focus and not burning the waste board


So i can use clear glass and leave a spacer between the glass and waste piece. Or do i still need to paint one side black. Thanks

the top side needs to be painted and the image reversed unless you want the etched side facing out

I wil give it a go and see what happens. Thanks

this cabinet door was painted on the back and etched on the back with the image reversed so the side facing out was smooth. hard to tell in this image because the paint had not been removed at the time but after paint was removed the lettering had a frosted look to it and came out really nice.


I must be doing something wrong. I painted 1 side and lasered it and removed the paint and there was nothing there.

check laser focus i use a little piece of tape on the glass to focus the laser and a setting the laser to full power to etch at 50-75 ipm