How to transfer design onto metal for piercing, sawing and filing?
What is the best way to transfer a design onto sheet metal for
piercing, sawing and filing?
Gluing a B&W paper pattern onto the metal with rubber cement works
well for simple things. But I find that as the complexity of the
design increases this becomes less and less satisfactory. The paper
can lift up, the image can become less clear with repeated handling,
and worst of all as the paper frays it becomes harder and harder to
tell if I’ve hit the line I was aiming for.
The easiest and most foolproof method I’ve found for general
transfers to flat metal is to print the design on a laser printer or
older copier, place the design face down on the clean metal, and use
acetone to transfer the ink onto the metal (I then spray with lacquer
to keep everything smudged during the operations). For your
application, this may or may not work. There are many videos
available on this method.
There is a great deal of out there on this very subject.
Some methods include laser printers, heat, chemical processes,
tape/chapstick, gun bluing, aspahaultium and other resists,
lacquers, pantographs, etc. etc. Much of it depends upon your
application - asking for general will result in the fire
hose effect (lots of water, too much pressure to drink without
damage). In addition to the application, the equipment you have on
hand and how expensive you want to make it have a strong bearing on
The biggest mistake people make in the beginning (I’ve read) is they
try to use the newer inkjet printers. These printers do NOT
I do A LOT of sawing/piercing of my own graphics. My technique:
Draw up design by hand.
Scan into CorelDraw.
Print out actual size at BEST setting.
[Now here’s the “design onto metal” part…] 5. Put a drop of white
plastic glue (Bluebird, Elmer’s, etc.) on middle finger and dab it
onto the CLEAN metal. Quickly wipe finger clean (I do it on the top
of opposite hand, as it peels off easily when dry).
Carefully place the printout on the metal over the glue. You have
a second or so for adjusting.
Place a clean sheet of paper over the entire design/metal.
‘Scrape’ over the whole business with something smooth, flat, and
plastic (e. g., the edge of a plastic triangle) to squeeze out
excess glue and get the paper REALLY flush and smooth against the
metal. 9. Remove top paper immediately.
I usually glue the paper on with a glue stick and then cut along the
lines with a surgical blade to scribe all the lines into the metal
(or wax). If you want, then you can peel off the paper (after you
drill all the holes) and saw away. If you can’t see the lines as
well as you wish you can go over it with a Sharpie and then wipe off
the excess, that will darken the lines you cut. A second way I’ve
done it is to copy the image onto very thin vellum and then glue
that on with a glue stick, that super thin paper seems to stay put
during the sawing. A third way is to copy your image in reverse onto
smooth paper, coat the metal with wintergreen oil, put the design
(ink side down) to metal then soak the paper with a cotton ball
drenched in more wintergreen oil. That transfers that ink from the
paper to the metal. That last one is my least favorite but it is
often recommended by engravers. Plus it smells good.
thanks for sharing - question though - "print" -- print on what?
Laser or inkjet? Or doesn't it matter?
I use a desk-jet, but it doesn’t matter. Just so you have a nice,
clear copy on paper. I used to paste the original pencil graphics on
the metal. Now I vectorize on the computer so I can get a very exact
copy with very thin lines. The thickness from the pencil lines are a
disadvantage when doing very tiny things. Janet in Jerusalem