DIY: Number Etched Drinking Jars

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I used to have a set of numbered glasses that I loved. Each was marked (1-6) with a decal. When people would visit, I would give each their own number, so they wouldn’t mix up glasses. It was lovely.

Unfortunately it’s a partial set now, because they were delicate, and I am clumsy.

It’s been my goal to replace them for some time. So that was my first project when I got the Dremel etching underway.

Supplies Needed

Dremel Micro rotary tool, or similar.
• A Dremel Diamond Wheel Point Bit.
** UPDATED 12/14 – I’ve since started using two different diamond bits with more success. 7105 Diamond Ball Point and 7103 5/64-Inch Diamond Wheel Point
• Printed Number Templates (described below)
• Scissors
• Tape
• Unlabeled Glass Jars – mason or other. I have used salsa jars for my glasses.
• Optional – Sharpie to trace template onto glass.

Safety First

Refer to your tool manual. I have listed my safety gear below, but it might not be adequate for your setup. Take all the precautions you can, and be ready to pay attention to what you’re doing.
• A respirator or dust mask.
• Safety goggles or Safety Glasses.

Tool Tips

• Practice a little bit with the tool to get an understanding of how it works on glass.
• Higher speeds seem to work best on glass.
• Build a jig to hold your glass in place while you work on it. I used a piece of plywood with scrap “rails” attached to it. My jig is painted black so I can easily see my project.
• Rubberized gloves may make it easier for you to hold onto your jar.
• Remember not to etch too deeply into the glass. Don’t hold the bit in one place for too long. Your goal is to make a pattern that is just barely felt when you run your finger across it.

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Measure your glass and decide how large you would like your number to be. (I decided that a 2.5 inch number would be perfect. That’s roughly 180 pt.) Choose your size, and type numbers in your favorite font. Make sure to leave some extra space to cut the templates apart.

Cut the numbers into strips that will fit easily within your glass. You want the paper to be pressed as closely to the glass as possible.

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Use a little tape to hold the paper template in place.

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Now it’s time to etch! First take a good look at your number and make sure it’s straight and located where you want. You will notice that the thickness of the glass will affect the way you see your template from different angles, and it may be difficult to trace the number perfectly. If you like, you can trace the number on the glass with a Sharpie to make sure you have the shape just right. (The Sharpie mark will come off easily after you are done etching.)

Your first etching step (shown above) is to make a light outline of your number, using the pointed end of the bit and a very soft touch.  Try to keep as straight-on to your template as possible– and cut yourself some slack. These are going to be awesome even if you have a stray line or two.

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Once you have outlined the whole number lightly, remove the template and retrace the number to thicken up your outline. Hold the bit close to parallel with the surface of the glass to get a thicker, more consistent, line.

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If you are happy with the shape of your outline, move on to outline the other numbers you would like to do in the same way.

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Voila! You have numbered glasses! But don’t stop there…

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Using the pointed end of the bit, add small designs and lines to the inside of your number. These little additions will look fun, camouflage any mistakes you made with the outline, and make the numbers pop-out on the glass. (This was my favorite part of the whole project. Any opportunity to doodle.)

IMG_2986I’m excited to show off my new glasses, and love that I turned something that should have been recycled into something I can use for years.

Other symbols to try

• Initial Letters for the people who visit often, or to give as gifts.
• Card Suits for game night (Which drink is trump?)
• Astrological Symbols
• Different Speech Bubbles
• Animal Silhouettes
• Punctuation marks (which I love)

What would you make?