Embossing Vs Engraving: Is One Better Than The Other?

Embossed card and an engraved scroll on metal

With customization almost at the forefront of everything, embossing vs engraving are two of the best crafting techniques you should try. However, if you can’t decide which one is better, this article is for you.

Here, we’ll give you an in-depth look into the features of both techniques and when you should pick one over the other.

Embossing Vs Engraving Comparison Chart



Adds a raised design to a porous and non-porous material

Adds carved texts or symbols into a medium

Uses a custom die to transfer a mark or design to the medium

Uses engraving tools or laser to cut a mark or design into the medium

Uses malleable materials

Uses both malleable and non-malleable materials 

It may be done manually or using a machine

It may be done manually or using a machine

Needs stencil, stamp, or freehand drawing for designs

May need software for design

Best for bulk orders

Best for individual orders

What is Embossing?

Embossing is the art of adding a raised design on porous and non-porous media. Here are the different types of embossing.

  • Blind Embossing a blind embossed Christmas card on top of a craft mat

Blind embossing, also known as dry embossing, involves transferring designs using an embossing folder or die without using ink or foil. You can see this method on business cards, invitation cards, and greeting cards and may involve texts or other designs.

  • Wet Embossing A few wet embossed greeting cards

In contrast, wet embossing or heat embossing uses a stamp where you’ll add embossing powders and melt it using a heat gun. 

You don’t need an embossing die to do this kind of embossing, but you’ll need a stamp, embossing ink, embossing powders, and a heat gun to transfer the designs or sentiments to a card. You can also freehand your designs then emboss them later.

  • Registered Embossing a luxury business card made with the registered embossed method

Registered embossing is where an embossed image gets another perfectly aligned image, ink, or foil to highlight the embossed part. This technique is best for luxury cards and invitations. 

  • Combination Embossing  a combination embossing made using a dry seal embossing

Combination embossing uses foil stamping or applying embossing ink and powder over the embossed design. The medallion you can see on certificates is an example of combination embossing where embossing and foil stamping is done in a single operation.

What is Engraving?

Engraving may employ etching, ring engraving, laser engraving, and rotary engraving. Each serves a different purpose but produces an equally remarkable result that adds allure to the material.

  • Etching an etched Christmas ornament and vase

Etching is a technique used to add designs on glass, crystal, or stone. By simply adding an etching cream over the stencil design, you can etch any glass in less than 30 minutes.

  • Ring Engraving a ring engraved inside with the words ‘inside ring engraving

As the name implies, ring engraving adds an engraved message on the ring’s inside or outside, usually a wedding ring, a promise ring, or metal bangles. You can use hand tools or a ring engraving machine for this.

  • Laser Engraving a series of photos showing how a fiber laser machine cuts design to a quarter coin

On the other hand, laser engraving adds designs on various materials, including wood, acrylic, stone, leather, and other porous and non-porous materials. Fiber laser engraving is best used for metal surfaces, like jewelry, to transfer an intricate design to the medium.

  • Rotary Engraving a metal sheet engraved using a rotary engraver.

Rotary engraving uses a spinning cutter to create designs on plastics, acrylic, glass, ceramic, wood, stone, and solid surface material. Diamond engraving is another technique to transfer designs on metal.

Embossing Vs Engraving Shodown

This part of the article only discusses artisan level embossing vs engraving. We will leave out industrial-type machines.

1. Tools Used - Winner: Embossing

For manual dry embossing, you can choose an embossing stylus and a stencil or an embossing machine and embossing folder or die. On the other hand, you’ll need the following for wet embossing:

      For manual engraving, you’ll need a rotary engraving tool. Or a stencil and an etching cream for etching on glasses.

      In the tools category, choosing between embossing vs engraving is an easy one. We’re going for embossing because of the hacks you can do even if you don’t have an embossing machine or embossing folder.

      2. Materials - Winner: Engraving

      You can use several materials for embossing, such as:

      • Paper and cardstock
      • Vellum 
      • PVC
      • Leather
      • Faux leather
      • Plastic film
      • Metal foil
      • Metal sheets
      • Glass
      • Textile and nonwoven fabric 

      For engraving jobs, you can use the following materials:

      • Marble and granite
      • Stone and brick
      • Wood and other forms of wood
      • Glass
      • Acrylic
      • Metal
      • Cardboard and paper
      • Fabric
      • Leather

      We choose engraving for the materials category because you can work with more elements using this technique. 

      3. Cost - Winner: Embossing

      Cost is a bit controversial for embossing vs engraving as we’re considering both the crafter and the client.

      Tools and machines used in manual embossing are within a reasonable budget for a hobby crafter. The same goes for engraving tools. When you have a few hundred bucks to spare, a good laser embossing machine may be expensive, but it would cut your engraving tasks to a quarter of the time. 

      However, if you’re the client, expect to pay more for engraving since it’s time-consuming and tedious. Even if the machine is readily available, laser embossing is still costly. For this reason, we’re giving the winning vote to embossing.

      4. Customization - Winner: Engraving

      Customizing an embossed design presents no issues when working with cardstock because you can always DIY your embossing folders and dies. However, when working with metal embossing, producing an embossing die may not be cost-effective if you’re only making a few pieces.

      On the other hand, manual engraving is a tedious task, but you can easily customize your designs. Working with a laser engraving machine cuts your work in half, and the results remain crisp over time. For customization, we choose engraving as the winner in the embossing vs engraving face-off.

      5. Level of Expertise - It’s a Tie!

      For manual embossing, even a newbie can do it. And as you do more of these jobs, your expertise level increases until you can work on more intricate designs. 

      You can also use manual and electric embossing machines that do not need any extensive experience at all. However, proper training to operate is necessary for industry-level embossing machines.

      On the other hand, manual engraving needs a level of expertise if you want it to look professional. Probably the most straightforward engraving task that a newbie can do is etching since it only needs a few easy steps. 

      Meanwhile, laser embossing is easy to use, that even newbies can do it in their kitchen. You don’t need special skills since you can add laser designs to almost anything with just an image from your phone. 

      We can’t pick a winner for embossing vs engraving in this category, so we’re declaring this one a tie.


      Both embossing vs engraving have their merits. But if you have to choose between the two, we recommend embossing since you don’t need special skills to do it. You can also use various materials and DIY some hacks, even if you don’t have an embossing machine.

      What about you? Which of the two methods do you prefer? 

      Use embossing if:

      • You’re making a huge batch of cards, etc. 
      • You’re working on malleable materials.
      • You’re not crafty enough to freehand your designs.

      Use engraving if:

      • You want to customize a few pieces.
      • You have the expertise to engrave by hand.
      • You prefer working with metal, wood, and other solid surfaces.

      What about you? Which of the two methods do you prefer? Let us know in the comments.

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