How to Mark Tools for Identification – Permanent Solution

If you work amongst a group or crew like in a large workshop or factory then the “this is my tool-no its mine” scenario should be very familiar.

Where a group of people is, there are chances that more than one person would have the same tool so it is very possible for there to be a mix-up amongst the tools belonging to different people. How would you pick your tools from other familiar tools or identify your tool that is with someone else?

You can imagine the frustration it gives when you feel that the other person has your tool but you have no means of identifying it. Wait, we have got an idea. If you continue reading, and you follow the steps, you would be able to pick your tool amongst other tools.

You can also get creative about it and take your tool to a whole new level by giving it a beautiful look. We are going to discuss “marking your tool”. It is a great topic and you would enjoy it.

6 Ways to Mark Your Tools

  • Using the tape
  • Using permanent markers
  • Using spray paints
  • Using paint markers
  • Engraving
  • Etching method

Why do we need to mark our tools?

Tools are marked so that they are peculiar or different which makes it possible for you to be able to identify different manufacturers of the same tool.

When there is a dispute as to who owns which tool, if you have a mark on it you can just go over show the mark then show how it is on all your other tools and claim what is yours. Very simple. This is very useful where tools get easily mixed up in a workgroup.

Everyone that took your tool would love to return it especially if you have paint on it because it is very conspicuous. If they don’t, people would easily identify them and they would be likely seen as thieves.

Honest mistakes like when someone mistakenly takes your tool with theirs can be avoided as your tool will always stand out except you both have the same mark. It is therefore advisable to get creative with markings so your tool is totally different.

If you bought a tool and after two days you cannot find them again. You will have to get another one from your salary. I can assure you that the tool did not disappear, someone took it or you kept it carelessly. If you do not want to use all your salary to keep buying new tools, then GET A MARK ON THEM.

1. Using the Tape

This is an old method of marking tool for identification. The tapes used are electric tape or masking tape. This tape comes in different colors so it can be used to create colorful markings.


  • They are the easiest and simplest to use. All you have to do is to unroll them and apply the gummy surface on the material you want to mark then press it firmly on the surface to smoothen them out.
  • They are also the cheapest as the only cost incurred is that of buying the tape.
  • Care must be taken so that the gummy surface does not stick to each other as they can be difficult to separate.


  • They are not permanent and can be easily removed
  • The glue tends to wear out after some time, it does not attach to the surface properly and it eventually pulls out.

2. Using the Permanent Marker

This method is a creative development from the traditional methods of using tapes in quest of creating a more permanent marking. A permanent marker can stay for a long time on the surface they are used on. When using markers whether freehand or with stencils, or stickers, the marker is used to make marks gently and allowed to dry


  • It is a more permanent form of marking than the tape.
  • It can be used on most surfaces.


  • They are not very permanent on steel and metal surfaces.
  • It takes time and energy to paint a large surface area due to the shape of the mouth.

3. Using the Spray Paint

This method involves the use of paints as sprays to apply color on a tool to be marked for identification. This method of marking easily applies color over large surfaces of tools.  Marking a tool this way makes the tool easily identifiable even over a far distance.

How to use spray paint:

Determine the color you want and get the paint that matches this color

Gather all the tools you want to paint on a disposable surface e.g. disposable thick paper, or cloth or on a grass that would be mowed after.

Shake the paint properly.

Apply the spray by depressing the head to release the paint.

Usually, tools have two sides so you would have to turn the tool over to paint the other side.

When you are done painting always remember to dispose of the paper or cloth or mow the grass because they can be messy.


  • It can be easily used over a large surface.
  • It takes little time to paint several tools.
  • Spray painting makes the tool very conspicuous.


  • It is not easy to control the spray as it comes out with force.

4. Paint Markers

Paint markers are markers that write in paint. This marker is used to create permanent markings on different surfaces such as paper, metal, stone, rubber, plastic, or glass. Their method of application is similar to that of the permanent marker and they are used similarly. Unlike the permanent marker which is resin-based, the paint marker is oil-based and takes more time to dry out.

How to use the paint marker:

Gather all the tools you want to mark

Prepare the surface by cleaning them with a cloth

Shake the marker gently

Unplug the cap then press the pen nib against the surface till the paint begins to flow then keep on marking.


  • It gives permanent markings.
  • It can be used on most surfaces.
  • It does not smug


  • It takes more time to dry

Areas to avoid when painting:

  • Working surfaces.
  • Measurement markings.
  • Warnings for safety
  • Moving parts.
  • Serial numbers.
  • Handles.

5. Engrave Marking

This involves using an engraver to make unique marks on tools for permanent identification. The engraver looks like a pen or pencil and is held like you want to write. Engraving can be done using your free hand but for neater work, it is advisable to use a label or stencil.

How to engrave marks:

Chose the font or style of the label or stencil you want.

Slice the label and place it on the tool.

Turn on the engraver.

Carefully use the engraver to write over the label following the font lines.

Peel off the label and gently clean the surface.


  • It provides neat work.
  • It is consistent as the same font is used on all the tools.
  • It looks professional.
  • It is a permanent marking that would last for a long time.
  • It is preferably used on a plastic surface.


  • Markings cannot be seen from afar
  • It takes time
  • You must be careful else you would make a mistake
  • There is an extra cost of buying an engraver.

The engraver bought would be used only occasionally when there is a need for mark-making.

6. The Etching Method

This method involves the use of electrochemical reactions to create marks or etch on conducting surfaces like steel. Tools needed to achieve an etch marking include an electrochemical machine, a stencil, etch electrolyte, and a cleaner. At this point, it is important to differentiate between etching and marking. Marking indents the surface to create a dark imprint without affecting the surface of the metal while an etched surface has its surface removed to create a whitish appearance.

Methods of etching or marking a surface using the electrochemical process include laser marking, dot peening marking, inkjet marking, and electrochemical etching or marking.

The laser marking involves the use of light beams which are focused and amplified to give the desired result on the surface of the metal. Factors usually considered before buying a laser marking or itching machine include the size, type of fiber, and ultraviolet light amongst others.

The dot peen marking machine: This type of marking machine is used to make dot marks on a metallic surface using a special stylus. They are used for thick metal sheets which are resistant to deformation. The markings are permanent but the result is very not clear and precise.

The inkjet marking uses a printing method that makes semipermanent marks on the metal surface. This method of marking is fast and appealing but it fades with time.

In the electrochemical marking and etching system, a marking tip is used to release a weak current to a surface through a stencil that has been soaked in an electrolyte. This type of marking is usually done on a conducting surface. When a DC is applied, a white etching surface is produced but a dark marking is produced when an AC is used.

Process of etching or marking:

Surface preparation

Fluid application and stencil positioning

Marking with the electrode head

Surface neutralization


  • They are fast hence several markings can be done within a short period
  • They are very effective on steel surfaces
  • They are more permanent
  • The results are clear and there is no surface disfiguration


  • They are more expensive than the other marking methods.
  • The ink marking method will not last very long.
  • It requires technical know-how
  • There is the risk of an electric shock when using the AC if it is not handled properly.


Marking a tool is great for tool identification. It ranges from the simple use of tapes found in the house to the use of an etching machine which is more industrial. They are all designed for our use but before you go to the market to buy one, you should consider your purchasing limit, the material you want to work on, the function (only marking, only etching, or the both), the turn-over time, and the quality of work. If you consider this thoroughly, you would make the best choice amongst the whole lot.

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Jason D. Turner

Hi there! My name is Jason, a keen enthusiast in power tools and their mechanisms and the sole mastermind behind the Noisy Tools. Working in a multi-national construction firm in Brooklyn for over a decade, I have developed a fair flair for different construction devices, gadgets, and their diverse operational aspects. By the dint of this platform, I have researched and reviewed various tools with utmost details of even the most trivial matters that will provide valuable insights for any prospective user.

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