How to Engrave a Metal Tag

military identification tag image by timur1970 from

Practice engraving techniques by engraving metal tags such as dog tags. Coming up with an idea for the engraving is the most difficult part of engraving metal tags. Once you have an idea, its only a matter of bringing that idea to life. Not many materials are needed, a simple engraving hand graver and a metal tag will do the trick.

Draw the design, or write out the words you want to engrave onto the metal tag using a pen, or marker. Allow time for the drawing to dry onto the tag before continuing.

Trace over the drawing using a simple engraving hand graver. A hand graver looks like a wood chisel but it has a larger handle and a sharper tip. Hold the metal tag with your left hand as you engrave with the right (vice-versa if you're left-handed). Try to be as precise as possible and don’t dig the engraving tool too deep into the drawing. A light, scratch-like engraving will be fine.

Polish the metal tag using some water and a hand towel to remove the marks made by the pencil, marker or pen. Wipe off the marks until only the scratches made by the hand graver remain.

Go over the light lines using the hand graver. Apply more pressure on the tool, pushing it forward over the light scratch and digging out a metal shavings. Continue in this manner until you have the desired drawing, or text, on the metal tag.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal tag
  • Pen
  • Marker
  • Hand graver
  • Water
  • Hand towel