Our other sites:

How to use an engineer’s scriber?

How to use an engineer’s scriber

Shop for Engineer’s Scribers

Equipment needed:

Engineers marking ink

Engineer’s marking ink

Also known as engineer’s blue, this is used on the surface of metal that is to be scribed in order to provide a better contrast with the scribed line, making it stand out clearly.

Small paint brush

Small paint brush

Use this to apply a thin layer of the engineer’s marking ink to the workpiece.

Soft bristle brush

Soft bristled brush

Use this to brush the workpiece clean of dust, dirt and metal swarf.

Metal ruler

Engineer’s rule

A rule is needed to measure out the position of lines on the workpiece.

Engineers square

Engineer’s square

Use this as a guide to mark lines at a right angle to the edge of a workpiece.

Template for marking out


If you are creating multiple copies of the same shape, you may have a template for this, which will eliminate the need to measure out every time.



Clamps may be used to hold a template in place on a workpiece, making it easier to scribe around.

Engineers dividers

Engineer’s dividers

Use engineer’s dividers to scribe curves and circles on the workpiece.

How to prepare the workpiece for marking out

Before you begin marking out start by cleaning the workpiece surface with a brush.

Step 1 – Clean

Clean the surface of the workpiece using the soft bristled brush.

Metal work piece inked up with red and blue marking ink

Step 2 – Ink workpiece

If your workpiece is metal, use the small paint brush to coat the surface with a thin, even layer of engineer’s marking ink and leave a few minutes for it to dry. The workpiece is now ready to be marked out. To save ink, apply only to areas to be marked.

Wonkee Donkee says: "If you don’t have any marking ink then a marker pen can be used instead."

The correct technique for using a scriber:

What angle should you hold an engineers scriber?, Tilt the scriber at an angle of 45 degrees to the work piece Holding the scriber as you would a pen, place it up against the edge of a ruler, engineer’s square or template. Hold the scriber at an angle of 45 degrees to the workpiece. Keeping the tip of the scriber up against the edge of the ruler, engineer’s square or template, and at the same angle, move the scriber across the workpiece in the direction you have the scriber head tilted.
Using an engineers scriber, Move the scriber across the work piece scribing a line in the direction the scriber head is tilted You should apply enough pressure to keep the tip in constant contact with the workpiece surface. This will produce a thin neat line that will be bright and in contrast to the darker inked surface of the workpiece. After you have finished marking out and other work on the workpiece, remove the marking ink using a solvent cleaner or methylated spirits.

How to use the other equipment when marking out

Using a ruler to measure the start and end points of measuring out lines

Using rules and engineer’s squares

Using a rule, measure out the starting position and end position of the lines you want to mark on your workpiece. Place a small scribe mark at the start position and end position of the lines you wish to mark.

Using and engineers square with a scriber Then, using the rule or engineer’s square as a guide for the scriber, scribe a line connecting the start and end positions of the lines you wish to make.
Wonkee Donkee use dividers for marking curves and circles, Unless you are using a template then scribers should only be used to scribe straight lines. To mark circles and curves on a workpiece you should use Dividers instead.
Template being used in marking out process

Using templates and clamps

If you are using a template, then place it on the inked surface of the workpiece.

Clamp being used to hold a template in place on the workpiece You may need to clamp the template to the workpiece to prevent it moving and make it easier to scribe around. Otherwise, you will have to hold the template in place with one hand while scribing around it with the other.
Workpiece that has been marked out for machining using a template Keeping the tip of the scriber butted up against the edge of the template, scribe around the template to create an outline which will be your guide for machining or cutting.

Wonkee Donkee Tools