Strategy for MCEtcher depth

I tried the MCEtcher for the first time today on some brass plates for a project for the Cub Scout troop. The first attempt I had the bitsetter enabled and the spring vs spring caused it to set zero too deep. The bit never really rose from the material and you can see the rapid lines in it.

So I disabled the bitsetter and set using the paper method. I had to cycle power between as disabling the bitsetter always throws Z zero off if I don’t.

Anyway the second pass is better but probably could have been deeper. What strategy do you guys use?

Depth of the engraving, step over, and direction of cut all determined by trial and error. What looked best to me depended on material (brass, stainless, aluminum, glass) and how large it was (1 inch dogtag to 18 x 8 glass panel). In general, very small step overs making the individual lines less noticeable from the distance it is expected to be viewed, and as shallow as possible so the engraving is visible but still gave very clean lines. I always used a 90 degree MCEtcher. I zero with paper method but I am not really concerned about a depth setting number as long as it looks good. Based on your bears, I prefer not so deep and much closer lines with a 90 degree. That should help define the bear also. Contour/profile lines are good. Over time and use, the spring may fatigue and the diamond dull making trial and error/new etcher necessary. Glass really dulled mine quick to the point I will avoid it if I can. Double sided tape can be your friend.
Cheers. Engraving is cool.


I disable the bitsetter and reset zeros to the top of the stock. I use the paper method, and give it a couple thousandths extra on acrylic. If I am not getting the etch I want I restart the job at an even lower z. If I were to etch metal I would be more conservative in order to keep the diamond drag from too much wear. For cutouts I reset to the spoilboard in my both my software and the machine, because that’s what I prefer.


Thanks I was certain that I bought the 90 and 120, but couldn’t only find the 120 so I guess I dreamed it.

I may try again with a smaller stepover.

I created an MDF piece with a pocket just the right size to hold the plate and use the supplied brass screws to hold it down. It that doesn’t pan out I will switch to tape but getting it out of that pocket may be hard. I used this method so that I have a reliable way to set XY.

I haven’t tried acrylic etching yet. That’s on my short list.

Those trees
Look great.

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Is that a lighted tree project with the base containing LED lights?

I started with shallow pockets to hold dog tags (no screws), it did not work well. The pocket wore after use. Then added double sided tape to the pocket which was overkill ( very difficult to remove the tag from the pocket). Now just tape for metal. For multiple thin pieces with critical x/y zero, I use the etcher to mark alignment lines in a scrap clamped to the wasteboard. Then put double sided tape on the back of the tag, align to the marks, press well and engrave. I usually zero to the center of the tag. I only do lots of 1 to maybe 15 replicates, one at a time.

I cut the tip off a protective sleeve and have it installed for Bit Setter operations and pause the program to remove the spacer on the move to the part. With this arrangement I can get consistent enough measurements that subsequent rigid tooling does not have depth inaccuracies. If That is a concern you can do any cutting prior to engraving. I “control” the pressure by setting a depth of cut, typically 0.1" for cast acrylic.


When you make your holding jig make a hole all the way through so you can poke it out. Just dont poke too hard on brass so you dont get any dents. Personally I like the super glue and painters tape best. I have made a lot of holding jigs for vcarving box lids and so on so the hole in the bottom is your friend.


I tweaked the settings and finished the set.

Now I need to start cutting the plaques these will be attached to.


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