Have you ever wondered how glass etching works? Can you use a crafting machine like the Cricut Maker to etch glass? The answer is yes, the Cricut Maker (and most other vinyl cutters) can be very handy in your glass etching projects.
But a note of clarification first. When we talk about glass etching in this sense, we are talking about chemical etching. For these projects, we use the Cricut Maker to cut a stencil out of vinyl. Then we apply the stencil to our glass object to be etched; that could be a wine glass, a coaster or a window pane.
Once the vinyl stencil is on the glass, a product called etching cream is applied, and it chemically erodes the glass to leave a frosted finish. Most etching cream for hobbyists contain hydrogen fluoride, which can be caustic to exposed skin. Please follow safety recommendations and wear gloves!
I’ll admit, the first thing I thought of when I heard of using a Cricut to etch glass was “Could the Cricut Maker etch a small pane of glass with the engraving tool?’’ the same way you would use the engraver for aluminum tags or sheets.
Glass engraving is tricky, especially with glass thin enough to fit in the Cricut Maker. Mechanical glass engraving usually involves abrasive wheels or drills (like a Dremel tool). It does not involve an engraving point that you would use on metal.
More to the point, Cricut does not sell glass blanks for use in their machines. This seems like a good indicator that you shouldn’t use your craft cutter to directly etch, engrave or scratch glass.
The only glass etching projects we would endorse are chemical etching projects. You can’t directly use your Cricut machine, but it still plays a vital part in producing a cleanly cut, detailed stencil for your project.
Tips for Etched Glass projects with the Cricut Maker:
- Use stencil vinyl for your projects. The premium choice for crafters is Oramask 811 or 813 (from the same manufacturer as Oracal adhesive vinyl). Regular removable vinyl like Oracal 631 can work for these projects. Oramask, however, is made with a low tack, water soluble adhesive that prevents bleeds.
- Clean your glass before you start. Use Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) for the best results.
- Use transfer tape to apply your stencil and a scraper to smooth the mask.
- Wear gloves and apply the etching cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- After the etch time has passed, wipe off the excess cream, remove the mask and wash your glass. If it is for food or drink, always use soap and water to clean.
To read more about the wide array of tools available for the Cricut Maker, click here.