Engraving is a popular way to personalize metal objects, such as trophies and plaques. However, people often need to remove this engraving when they want to sell or give away these items. How can you remove this from the metal without damaging it?
In this article, we’ll show you how easy it can be to remove engravings from metal with a few common household tools in just a few minutes!
1. Clean the Area You Want to Remove the Engraving
This is an important step because the cleaner the metal is, the easier it’ll be to remove engraving.
First, clean the surface thoroughly with one of your chosen cleaning agents. Make sure that all dirt and oil is removed from the object’s surfaces, as this will prevent any new paints or inks from adhering properly.
You can use an old toothbrush or cotton swab if necessary to ensure that every part of the item has been cleaned thoroughly.
Allow time for drying before proceeding.
You’ll need cleaning agents. These will vary depending on the type of metal you are working with, but a few common options include Windex and vinegar.
The tools you’re going to use are the following:
- Scouring pads
- Paint eraser or sandpaper
- Goggles/safety glasses
- Protective gloves
If there are areas of the metal that are not engraved that you want to protect, cover them with masking tape. You can also use painter’s tape or even electrical tape for this step. Doing this will allow you to protect those areas from damage as you work on removing the engraving.
You need to wear the following when you work on removing engraving or sanding metal:
- Safety goggles: They’ll protect your eyes from metal filings.
- Gloves: They’ll protect your hands and fingers from any sharp or rough edges of the metal object you are working on.
- Dust mask: This will protect you from breathing in metal filings.
Tip: Make sure that other people who are around while removing engravings wear protective clothing too so nobody gets hurt by flying pieces of metal when sanding them down with either an emery board or sandpaper. You don’t want anyone getting injured or sick.
Here are the steps to remove the engraving from metal:
- Sand down the engraved area with 220-grit wet and dry sandpaper until you have removed most of the engraving marks in that area. You can use a hand sander or a drill-mounted sander for this process, but be careful when doing so because it’ll take some time to get through all that metal. If you don’t want to use any power tools, you can also work on removing engravings by using steel wool instead.
- When finished, rinse off your object under running water, then wipe it clean with a cloth or towel.
- Dry it thoroughly before moving forward, so no rust forms while still damp. This step is often much easier when performed outdoors, where there are fewer restrictions than indoors. It is recommended not to attempt this process in an enclosed space without proper ventilation.
5. Use a Metal File to Sand Down the Engraving Marks
Once you have removed most of it using wet and dry sandpaper, it’s time to move on to the metal file. A metal file can remove the rest of the engraving marks, so it will look polished and clean.
Start by placing your file flat against the surface of the object, then move it forward in an even motion as if you were ironing out wrinkles on fabric, but don’t rub back and forth because that’ll cause damage to any non-engraved areas around the engraved area.
Make sure all parts are smooth before moving on to the next.
Tip: If there’s still some light engraving left after removing with either wet or dry 220-grit sandpaper, use 400 grit emery paper instead, so it’s completely gone without damaging other areas of the metal.
Apply a coat of liquid car wax to your object and wipe it dry with a cloth or towel for protection from future rusting. This can be reapplied as needed when you want to remove engravings again in the future.
Once done, leave your objects out under direct sunlight for an hour so that heat can help set the wax into place. Then take them back inside where they’ll remain undamaged by any other elements such as humidity or water, both indoors and outdoors, until you are ready to use them again.
Things to Avoid When Removing Engraving From Metals
Let’s now talk about a few things you should avoid when removing engraving from metal.
This is an important one to remember so you don’t damage your object. If the sandpaper is too coarse, it’ll end up scratching off more metal than engraving, and that can cause a lot of harm. Instead, try using softer sandpaper at first to see if that is enough grit. Then, if that doesn’t take the engraving off, then move to the next coarser grit.
The air sander sends out a stream of air rather than rubbing or moving across the surface, which causes less control over what gets removed from the metal piece in question. As such, be careful if using one because all objects are different and need special treatment depending on their materials.
Some metals might require coarser grit paper, while others may require finer ones based on how deep any engravings go into them.
Some power tools can be very dangerous if not used properly. Therefore, you shouldn’t use them unless you’re experienced with handling them or have been trained on how to do so. If you must use a power tool, ensure you first understand how it works.
Better still, you can engage a professional.
You should also make sure you’re wearing protective gear such as goggles, a mask to cover your mouth and nose for breathing protection from any metal dust or debris produced during sanding.
Wear gloves too to prevent skin irritation when working with certain metals. Gloves can also prevent injuries.
The steps outlined in this article should work well on most metals, including steel, copper, brass, aluminum, and nickel-plated items. You may have different results if these instructions don’t work on certain types of metal.
If you need to, try these steps on an inconspicuous area of the object first before removing engravings all over it so that you can see if they work well enough for your needs.