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Wine glasses scare the pants off most new...and some seasoned....engravers. It's NOT that difficult. Here's a quick walk-through the next time a pair of toasting flutes or wine glasses find their way to your table.

My preference is always to engrave the bowl of the glass, even though the base is far easier. Looks better up top if there are no obstructions or if the glass is thick enough not to worry about breaking.

If you must do the base, there are two least I offer only two. Engrave the names and wedding date in two straight lines as shown here, or in one longer line, concentric with the outside edge of the round base. Details on that one in another post one day soon.

Obviously, my quick shoot-from-the-hip shot at this one was off a about 1/2 inch. My drill has no eraser so I'm stuck with it. I eyeballed where I thought the names should start with a #4 round carbide. I did no draft, I just went for it.

Since I had a lot of extra space to the left of the C in Craig, I added a small flourish to take up part of it. The date line came out fine with a #3.

The way I did it for this quick and dirty example is NOT the way to begin but I often get away with it and you will to with practice. Below is the right way to approach two wine glasses.

1. Decide where you want the two names to be, in about the position of these.

2. Draw a base line where you want the names to sit. I used a piece of SCOTCH Magic Tape with the top edge exactly where you want your line. It's the best tape. I never substitute. My pen is a Sharpie Ultra Fine point.

3. Place that same piece of tape...bottom edge...on the line you drew. Burnish it down.

4. With that marker, write a draft of the names on the tape. Write the letters the size you think they'll be with the bur you chose. The letters will be more narrow than the those with the drill but the horizontal spacing of the whole line is what you're looking for.

5. Raise up your draft and move it left and right until it is visually centered on the available space. Raise the tape and put a small mark where the first letter begins. Do the same for the ampersand. Do it again for the first letter of the second name, then at the point where the last letter begins.

6. Get a piece of flat glass and draw guidelines for top and bottom of the lower case letters. For a #4 bur, the lower case letters should be 1/4" tall. Caps about twice that tall. Of course that's a rule of thumb and I usually break that rule to accommodate the space and bur I select.

7. Select the bur you think should work. Engrave the names on the flat glass.

8. Put a piece of the tape on top of your flat glass trial and make a rubbing of the letters with a pencil or trace them with a marker.

9. Lift the tape and put it over the line on your wine glass base. If it matches your markes on the glass, and you got the right bur, engrave it on the glass's base.

10. Considering where descenders will occur, if any, from the names; decide where you want the baseline to be for the date.

11. Draw the line and repeat the layout process for the date but write your draft smaller and make the date one bur size smaller than the one for the names.

If you go through those steps, repeating the flat glass step if necessary, and you get the names and date nicely centered on the first glass, the second glass is a piece of cake!

1. On the engraved glass, place a 3" or 4" piece of tape across the edge of the base, extending up to the stem. Place a dot on the tape right on the rim. Put another dot on the edge where the date's base line is and another for the names' baseline.

2. Place that piece of tape on the second glass and put a dot on the base for the date line and another for the names line.

3. Lay a piece of tape down right at the edge of the first dot and draw a line across the base.

4. Do the same for the date line. BE SURE to draw the lines PARALLEL!

5. Notice where the first letter began on the names on the first glass. Mark that spot on the second glass and engrave the names precisely like you did on the first glass.

6. Notice where the date began below the names. Start the date there on the second glass.

7. When you're done, wash off the marker lines the you should have a couple of glasses to charm the owners.

This whole process looks and is quite laborious for the first few sets of glasses. Go get some cheapie glasses at the Goodwill store or the next garage sale and get the steps down until they become second nature.

I do a pair of glasses in under 10 minutes. OK, let's be conservative and say I take 15. (Seldom take that long!) I charge $65. for the set, whether engraved on the bowl or the base. If on the bowl and they want a few words on the base, I don't charge extra. So, at $65. for a quarter hour means I could do four sets....8 glasses in an hour. Four times $65. is $260. an the effective hourly rate for a pair of glasses is right up there in the range of plumbers and new attorneys in small towns!

Good luck. Remember, your work and my work will never be compared side by side. Your customer will think your work is great. If you're more comfortable in charging less....and you may have to where you are...fine. Even half that rate is more that most mortals earn slogging through life at what they do for a living. And if you only get one pair done in an hour, who else on your block is earning sixty-five bucks an hour at home on the kitchen table?


Let me know if you have questions.

-Ken • 214.250.6958

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