top of page


In spite of appearances, the urn was to hold the remains of the cremated.

I had an idea of what to expect beneath the green marble-like surface of the urn. The entire piece was brass and I knew I'd cut through to the metal. What I didn't know was the depth of the greem material. There was nowhere on the bottom that I could test the green by engraving the year to see how it reacted to the drill.

Brass is quite soft compared to stainless steel which some urns are, so I knew a dull bur would be the wise first choice; the green material had to be soft, as well.

I decided to begin at the bottom and work up, a line at a time. On the info the customer gave me, the places of the line breaks were obvious. That told me I had 6 lines. For the sake of simplicity, I arbitrarily set the line for the bottom two words, then engraved them. Had no centering considerations at this point so I could begin the two words anywhere.

To be sure my entire layout would be roughly centered, top to bottom, I repeated the spacing between the bottom line and the one above it, all the way through the top line of engraving. It was not perfectly centered, but close enough nobody on the planet would say it was out of whack.

To test the green material, I used an 'experienced' #3 round carbide bur. With the lightest touch, I made the first of the two quotation marks on the left. My bur choice was right on. Immediately, I knew the pressure it would take with that bur, so I was off and running.

Another arbitrary decision was the placement of the guideline for the October date. I made the space wide enough so there would be no ascender / descender issues. The BOTTOM EDGE of a piece of frosted 3M tape was put on the BASE LINE of the date. I lettered the date on the tape, pulled the draft up and placed it perfectly eyeballing... above the bottom line, then engraved it. That was done for the words on every line.

The whole process took 40 minutes and I got $195. for the work. When you do the math, it was a nice hourly rate. The customer was delighted.

ESSENCE: Test or tiptoe lightly on material you don't know. Do the first stroke very lightly to determine if you need a sharper or duller bur. That first stroke will tell you the pressure and speed you need to begin. Depending on the condition of the bur after a few words or lines, you'll have to work slower and slower to give the bur time to cut, to keep your letters looking the same weight. If you begin with an old bur, replace it with a better old bur as things begin to bog down, if they do.

May "Poopie" R.I.P.


102 views0 comments
bottom of page