This bottle engraving took less than two minutes.  It was actually a minute 49 seconds by my Apple Watch!
No guidelines.  No measuring.  No centering.  No layout.  No lunch.  No kidding.
I could easily do 30 of these…perhaps a few more…in an hour.
Often, for weddings and anniversaries, I actually DO have 6 to 36 bottles…or more…with the SAME information on each bottle.  When in multiples, there is usually one for every guest at the wedding reception or anniversary party.
Whether or not you have multiples, to be productive in public venues, you have to be able to produce good, clean, fast-made letters.
Here’s how to get ready for the opportunity when it comes or you go for it:
•  First, if you engrave the bottles in this format…consider the space between the front and back labels and know that your information must fit.  That determines which bur you select and the size of the letters.  In the example above, I had to fit two lines of lettering and a date between the labels.
•  As for all my in-store wine events, I begin the day with a USED #6 round carbide bur.  It’s dull.  It allows me to skim the glass lightly and quickly without wanting to ‘bite’ into the glass.  It’s too dull for thicks and thins so the strokes are all thin…close to the same weight…with some extremely thin connectors between letters.  I’m certain to make them dark enough to pick up the color to be added when I’m finished.
•  Know every letter in your alphabet to the degree you could do them blindfolded with the drill on flat glass.  Long, arduous practice gets you there.  Yes, I know the bottle isn’t flat, it’s ROUND!  But the area on which the letters are engraved is basically FLAT with an unnoticeable amount of curve top to bottom of the letters.
•  Learn to be able to literally visualize the words you choose to be on the first line…where they begin and where they end.
•  Begin the line where you ‘see’ it beginning and it should end where you visualize.  In the bottle above, I wanted the names to be centered beneath the label.  Flourishes not considered at that point.
•  After the first letter, you must decide where the invisible baseline will be for the following letters.  Before beginning the second lower case letter, look to be sure it is sitting on the same ‘line’ as the first one.  Repeat that after every letter, constantly looking back and where you are to keep all letters on that non-existing baseline.  Mine are NEVER perfect, but they’re always close enough.
•  Again, you must look at the second line to be engraved and visualize where the first word should begin so the line will be centered beneath the line above.  In this example, I knew ‘Happy 50th Anniversary’ would take more room…length…than the two names.  I ‘shot from the hip’ and began the H an inch or so to the left of where the R in Rick began.
•  I lettered the three elements in the second line and ended up just a bit long, BUT, with the flourish on the end of Sharon, the one added to the R in Rick, plus the long one across the A in Anniversary, it all came out looking well-enough centered that it was quite passable.
•  The date, clearly should have started farther to the left.  It is waaay off to the right.  But with the flourishes, smoothly and very quickly done,  the off-center date is hardly noticed.
•  Now…if I had multiples of this bottle, I would have done the second one exactly like this one on the two lines.  But, I would have begun the date…with its numbers spaced far apart…just a space to the right of the y in Happy.  All other bottles with the identical message would match the second one where the spacing correction was made.
As for the flourishes, those must be made lightning-fast, look spontaneous…NEVER ‘DRAWN’…and be perfectly smooth with no jitters.
These are the measures I take at every event that enable me to do a bottle at an average of every 2 minutes!  Do the math.  That’s 210 bottles in my 7 hour events.  Often, I do more when there are lots of bottles with fewer elements than this one.
I do take 2-3 quick pit stops and 30 second walks down the grocery aisle behind me to keep my blood circulating and these old bones moving. The occasional bottles that only need CHEERS!, CELEBRATE!,  THANK YOU!, etc., allow the average of 2 minutes per bottle to work for the entire event.
The wine gods and store employees are delighted when bottles are marching across my table, non-stop, during my publicized events.
Good Luck!  Let me know if you have questions or comments.



  1. Mary Haynes May 18, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks for describing how you approach engraving lots of bottles in a short period of time. I always enjoy reading the tips and tricks from the Master!! This one goes in my archives!

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