Difference Between Etching and Engraving

Etching and engraving are both ancient art forms used to decorate metals. They have both been done for a very long time, and they can look similar, but they are done with very different processes. So, what’s difference between these two processes? And what are the pros and cons of each of them?

Well, in this post, we will take a look at the difference between etching and engraving.

Etching vs. Engraving

What is Engraving?

Well, engraving is done by physically carving into metal. This can be done completely with a tool by hand, or that tool can be powered. But what you do with engraving is digging into the metal, and drawing on the metal by carving some of the metal away. Today, we use laser engravers to engrave metals, using laser for engraving can be very precise.

Using a laser engraver, you can have your thumbprint or even your picture engraved on metal.

What is Etching?

Well, etching, on the other hand, is a chemical process. With etching, chemicals are used to eat away a little bit of the metal to create the desired design. The oldest known etching was used on the coat of arms, and amour.

The way that etching is done, the way that you get the chemical to create the design, one way to do this is to cover the metal in wax. This wax prevents the chemical from touching the metal. This will keep the metal clean. Then what you do is you carve into the wax where you want the etching to be. So, you carve your design into the wax, and then you stick the whole thing down into a chemical, usually an acid and let it sit for an hour. When you take it out and clean the whole thing off, that acid will have etched the design into the metal.

How Do You Identify an Etched Metal From an Engraved Metal?

Well, with an etched metal, you’ll notice that the drawing has a lot of marks and tones such as grey tones, white tones and black tones. Also, you’ll see a lot of wiggly lines in it. However, with an engravement, you’ll see that the lines are very sharp, crisp with no grey tones. Also usually with an engraving, the lines are everywhere, so basically, it is going to be black and white.

So, that’s the difference between engraving and etching and they do seem similar, but they are completely different processes.