1.  Engrave the back side.  The front will have a design of some kind.  Never engrave the front.  

     2.  Put the hinge at the top.  

     3.  Decide how many lines your message will take.  Slant and center those four lines slightly above the compact’s center.  You SLANT the lines to show that the layout was intentionally done that way.  If you try to get the lines perfectly parallel with the hinge it seldom looks good.  A degree or two off…that may look good to you when the lines are drawn….will look awful when complete.  Play it safe and draw them at about the angle shown here.

     4.  Draw the baselines with a SOFT graphite pencil.  Often, lines with a marker are difficult to remove.  Use marker if the compact metal is smooth.  The example here is frosted.

     5.  Duplicate the line spacing you feel will work on flat glass.   Draw a box on the glass representing the compact’s back. 

     6.  Select a USED bur and try to engrave it in the space on the flat glass.  If it fits, look at position, centering, etc.  

     7.  When you’ve selected a used round carbide bur that will fit your letters in the trial space on flat glass, take a deep breath and engrave the compact.  

     8.  The compact in the photo was done with a used, relatively dull, #3 round carbide.  Strokes must be at a steady speed and even pressure.  A too-dull bur will only scratch the surface and not cut a smooth stroke.  A new or too-sharp bur will dig far too deeply and you’ll have no control.

IMG_0159     9.  When engraving on the mirror inside, do the same thing with the angled guidelines.  Use a USED #3 or #3 bur.  Test your message and layout on a piece of scrap mirror.  Visit a frame shop or commercial glass shop.  They’ll GIVE you all the scraps you can carry off.  Have your Band Aids handy or wear gloves.  If you take only a few pieces, offer to pay the firm to sand the edges.  Or…use a coarse emery board or sand paper and do it yourself when you get home.  

FINAL NOTE:  Until you get the feel of metal, especially the often-soft compacts, these can be a genuine challenge.  In the example here, I was careful to use a bur that I had tested and I kept a smooth, steady movement all the way through.  Like anything else, you must practice a lot to master the compacts but they make wonderful gifts the ladies love.  

Please excuse the reference here, but I have to share a comment from a classy-looking 40-something woman customer at a Nordstrom one day.  I was engraving compacts right and left.  Each one had a small powder puff and a small canister of translucent face powder in the circular inset, inside.  She admired my lettering and said, “Oh that’s such a lovely item and the engraving makes it really special. It will be a perfect way for me to carry my condoms!”  She bought one on the spot.  Can’t share, here, the message she wanted engraved, but she left with a broad, pardon the pun, smile or her mischievous face.  


P.S.  As you know from previous blogs, we have a few of these for Certification projects, and for sale as gifts.  You’ll probably stick to keeping with the powder and puff inside.


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