Personalized pencils make great gifts, and today’s post is all about engraving pencils on an xTool M1 machine! The settings are specific for this machine, but the tips are relevant for other machines, too.
All about engraving pencils on an xTool M1 laser machine!
Hey all—today I have a quick laser machine project for you! I don’t do much crafty stuff on this website, and normally I’d post something like this on my other website Let’s Craft Instead. But I’m trying to keep all of my laser machine projects consolidated to this website.
So…today’s post is a bit craftier than normal! I’m walking you through how to engrave pencils on an xTool M1 laser machine. I chose the M1 machine for this project because it is one of the more accessible laser machines from xTool. I want the tutorial to be as helpful to as many people as possible.
If you’re new to laser machines, the M1 was my first laser cutting machine. You can check out my xTool M1 Review post for more. It’s a nifty diode laser cutting and engraving machine that also has blade cutting capabilities. So it’s great for crafters.
Here’s what I used for this project:
- xTool M1 laser machine
- Pencil jig
- Material for the pencil jig; I used the back of a 3mm basswood scrap, but lots of people use a piece of plain old cardboard
- Amazon Basics pencils
And here are the steps for engraving pencils on an xTool M1!
Step 1: Cut the pencil jig
The pencil jig is what holds the pencils in place while you engrave then. You can use really anything for this, but I chose to use a piece of scrap 3mm basswood that had a messed up engraving job on the other side.
There are a lot of free pencil jigs online, so you can google and find one of those if you want. Personally, I tried a free jig first, and the slots were too big! I was so frustrated that I’d wasted materials.
So I went to Etsy and got this super cheap file to use. It had great reviews, so I was confident I wouldn’t be wasting any more material. And it worked great for these Amazon Basics pencils! Even with my air assist running, everything stayed put.
If you’re feeling extra thrifty and have a bit of extra time, you could easily make your own. All you need to do is make a rectangle with a series of long, thin rectangles on it. You set the pencils down into the rectangles so they don’t move around while the machine is engraving.
Step 2: Place pencils
If your pencils are round, this step will be very fast. Just place your pencils into the rectangles. But if your pencils are hexagons or triangles, you’ll want to pay extra attention to how each one is placed.
I tried my hardest to get each pencil positioned so that the top was completely flat without any of the hexagonal “corners.” You’ll see what I mean in some of the later photos. I did a pretty good job of this, but some of the pencils weren’t totally flat. No biggie.
Step 3: Create, size, and place text
Next I typed what I wanted to say on each pencil. I used xTool Creative Space tools to do this, typing each phrase right in. I chose a font I thought looked good and sized it appropriately.
Then I positioned each text box accordingly as you can see below. (This is the live view of what the inside of the machine looked like before I started laser engraving.)
You’ll notice that I only have the top four slots filled in the picture below. I ended up doing only a couple at a time because I felt that the camera distortion did mess with the accuracy of the text placement the farther down the jig I got.
I’m honestly not sure how to combat that problem. I’ll show you an example of what I mean later in the post. This is the downside of having a live view camera—it’s nifty, but for precise projects, it can be tricky to manage placement while factoring in camera distortion.
Example of the distortion
Here’s an example of what I mean when I say distortion. Both of these text boxes were placed in the exact same place on each pencil. And both of these pencils had a flat part of the pencil on top.
However, the pencil on top was near the top of the jig, while the pencil on the bottom was near the middle of the jig. I did do some experimenting to figure out if changing the text placement could help with this—and it did. But it was a bit time-consuming, and I felt it was easier to just engrave smaller batches.
So here are the finished pencils!
And here are the finished engraved pencils! I used the setting 70 power, speed 160, line 120. We also did some with teacher names on them. Overall I’m really happy with these. The kids seem to go through pencils like crazy, so we may do more around the holidays.