I have wanted to try engraving acrylic ornaments for forever but I only have a Scan N Cut machine and it doesn’t have an engraving tool. But, wait – that is not true. Chomas Creations has fabricated a carbide steel engraving tip that fits in the regular blade holder on the Scan N Cut DX (I believe it also fits in earlier Scan N Cut versions as well). I ordered one and tried it out and have to say, it is pretty darn awesome! A whole new world of crafting projects has now been opened to me. As a result, I have created a step-by-step tutorial on how to engrave with your Scan N Cut. I walk you through the set up of the SVG design (FREE below through November 14, 2020) for a dog memorial ornament, send it to my Scan N Cut and show you the engraver in action. Even though I am specifically using a DX machine, the design set up easily applies to any version of the Scan N Cut. I am also using a PC for this, so the keys I use in Brother Canvas may differ slightly on a Mac.
PLEASE NOTE: The Chomas Creations engraving tool is NOT made or endorsed by Brother so you WILL VOID the warranty on your Scan N Cut if you use it. My warranty has expired so this did not bother me.
Check out the video tutorial below or scroll down for instructions with photos:
Download the SVG design below (FREE through November 14, 2020), unzip the file from your Downloads folder and save to a place you can easily find it on your computer. Open Brother Canvas (click here for the free download from Brother if you don’t already have it), click the SVG button on the left toolbar, navigate to the place you saved the file in the window that opens, click on it and open it. The design should appear in the upper left corner of the mat as shown in the photo.
NOTE: The bone shown in the SVG design is sized specifically to fit the acrylic ornament blank I used (see Supply List below). If your blank differs in size you can resize it by clicking on the Edit icon on the right tool bar (looks like a square) and changing the width and height shown on the tab. Make sure the narrower middle section of your resized bone fits the middle section of your actual blank so that the design will fit properly when engraved. If it is significantly different, you may need to create your own bone template, which I discuss in the video.
Navigate to the Layers tab on the right tool bar (it looks like a stack of papers). Click on the Otis shape in the list and notice that the “Otis” word is highlighted by a box within the bone design. Click on it and drag Otis off of the bone. Do the same for the years “2001-2012”. You can also highlight the items you wish to move by selecting the arrow tool in the top toolbar and then clicking on the item in the design. Sometimes this doesn’t work, especially if the item is small or overlapping other elements, so then the layers trick is the way to go. You can delete “Otis” and the years now or use them to help size the new name and years. Just remember to delete them after that.
Click the T button on the left toolbar to bring up the text tool. Click anywhere on the mat and type the name of your dog; I typed “Molly”. Go to the Properties tab on the right toolbar (it’s the paintbrush icon) and click on the Text menu to bring up a drop down menu of the fonts on your computer. Select the font you like for your dog’s name and it will change to that font; I used a font called Empathy. Resize the name to fit on the bone between the wings by selecting it, dragging it on to the bone and then grabbing one of the corner handles of the box and shrinking it by pushing in. Do NOT use the handles that are in the middles of the box lines as moving those will change the width and height alone and mess up the look of the name. If using a script font, the letters will appear to be connected but they will actually be individual cut elements (you should see small cut lines at the end of each letter where it overlaps its neighbor) and that won’t look good if engraved. To remedy this, click on the name to select it (if it’s not already), click on the box icon on the right toolbar to open the Edit tab. Look for the Shapes section toward the bottom of the tab and click on the first shape which is Weld (looks like a circle and triangle stuck together or a Goldfish cracker). This will weld the letters all together as one shape and remove those small cut lines. Repeat this process to add your dog’s years although you may not need to Weld them as they are likely individual numbers and not linked together. If desired, add a Fill to the name and years by selecting a fill color from the top toolbar (the color doesn’t matter; it will engrave white). The fill effect that is engraved by the Scan N Cut is imperfect and somewhat rustic as you can see in the photos below but can work to help your design show up better on the clear acrylic.
Step Three – Flip the Design, Change to Draw & Save
Select the halo, dog’s name and dog’s years on the bone by holding down the Shift key and clicking on each of them. Navigate back to the Edit tab on the right and click on the Align Objects “Center” button and the Distribute Objects “Vertical” button to space everything nicely on the bone. You may need to adjust each item by eyeballing it so it is centered between the wings. Once you are happy with the placement on the bone, make sure all items on the bone are selected by holding Shift and clicking on them (do not select the actual bone). Click on the Edit menu in the upper left of the screen (different from the Tab on the right) , scroll down to Flip and then scroll over to Flip Horizontal. The design on the bone will flip so the letters and numbers are backwards. This is because we are engraving on the back of the ornament and want to be able to read the name and years through the front.
Click on the Layers icon on the right tool bar (looks like a pile of papers). Notice there is a small knife blade icon next to an eye on the right side of each layer. Click on the knife and it brings up a short menu, select Draw and the icon will change from a knife blade to a pen nib. Do this on all of the layers. This MUST be done before you send the file to your Scan N Cut. We will use the Draw setting on the machine to engrave and if the file is not sent to the Scan N Cut machine with the Draw layers already set, the machine will not allow you to use the Draw option. This is a weird quirk if you ask me, but that has been my experience.
Navigate to the File menu next to Edit in the upper left section of the screen. Scroll down to Save As, click it. A window will open. Navigate to the place on your computer that you want to save the file, name it and click Save.
The white area with lines on it that the design is sitting on on your computer screen is an exact depiction of the actual mat that will go into your Scan N Cut when you are ready to make the design. The vertical and horizontal lines show 1 inch increments on the mat. These lines are also on your actual mat. To place the design exactly where you want it so you will know where to place the ornament on the actual mat as well as where the engraving will take place, select all of the design elements including the bone by clicking above the left corner of the design and dragging over the entire thing. If you miss an item, hold down the Shift key and click it. Once all of it is selected, drag the entire design down so the left side of the bone lines up with the first vertical line in from the left and the top of the bone lines up with the first horizontal line on the mat. This places the bone 1 inch in from the left and 1 inch down from the top so when we put the actual bone ornament on the mat, we will place it in the same spot on the actual mat.
We aren’t going to engrave the bone. We already have it as an acrylic blank so we need to remove it from the design. Open the Layers tab on the right toolbar and navigate to the Bone shape section. Click on the eye icon at the end of the line to hide the bone; it will disappear from the mat. If desired, you can Save the file again at this point but it is not absolutely necessary. Just remember to move the design on the mat and hide the bone again if you want to engrave another dog memorial ornament.
Navigate back to the File menu in the upper left section of the screen, scroll down to Export/Transfer FCM file and click it. This will bring up a warning box that tells you hidden objects will not be sent with the design. This is good because the only hidden object is the bone and we don’t want that sent anyway. Click Okay and then choose the icon that represents your way to transfer the file (thumb drive/save to folder, wireless or cable). Once transferred, a box will appear and tell you the registered machine is ready to retrieve the design. Now go to your machine.
Step Five – Retrieve Design and Engrave
Assuming your machine is on and at the Home screen, tap on the Retrieve Data box. Hit the icon that matches the manner you used to send the file. If you used wireless or cable, the design will show up on the screen. If using a thumb drive, you will need to navigate to the design file, select it, and then it will show up on the screen. It should be at the 1 inch in over and 1 inch down place on the mat shown on the screen but without the bone. Remove the blade from the Scan N Cut and replace with the Engraving Tip (it fits perfectly into the Auto Blade slot – no adapter needed).
Grab your standard grip mat and ornament blank. Take the protective sheet off of your mat. Add a piece of strong double sided tape to the back of the ornament blank and place it tape side down lined up at the 1 inch down and 1 inch over lines as we did with the design in Brother Canvas.
NOTE: Blue painter’s tape is not strong enough to hold your blank in place. Believe me, I tried it. So using a strong double sided tape is VERY important to keep your blank in place while the machine engraves. Also, your ornament blank must be able to fit under the roller bar on your machine. With the lever on the right side in the #2 position on a Scan N Cut DX, 3 mm thickness appears to be the max the machine can use.
Load the mat with the ornament blank on it into the machine. Go back to the LED screen and click the OK button, then the Please Select button and choose DRAW (also VERY important). The screen will return to the design screen so tap Start. A screen will appear saying something like “Please insert the appropriate holder” because the machine thinks you need to put the Pen Holder into the blade holder, but you don’t so hit OK and then tap Start again. Your machine will begin engraving your ornament with the design. The LED screen will tell you how long it will take. When completed, the mat will move forward and the LED screen will say “Finished Cutting”. Hit the OK button and unload your mat from the machine.
Carefully remove the ornament blank from the mat and peel off the tape. Use the tape or your finger to gently scrape off all of the debris that has accumulated around the engraving. Make sure to not use anything that may scratch the acrylic itself. Also, before using the engraving tip again, you need to remove the debris from it as well. Once free of debris, wipe the ornament with a lint free cloth, add a ribbon hanger and enjoy!
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Dog Memorial Ornament SVG, PNG & Brother Scan & Cut Files – No longer Available
THE 4″ ACRYLIC BONE ORNAMENT I used from Michaels (below) is DISCONTINUED but here is a great 3″ alternative: https://www.143vinyl.com/acrylic-blank-bone.html