You can purchase pre-prepared gravers from a number of places, GRS,
Lindsay, Gerry Lewy to name a few. Purchasing them “pre-sharpened"
however is a bit of a waste if you spend a lot more for them. You
will have to re-sharpen them within minutes of first using them,
especially if you are using them for stone setting, so I would spend
the money on sharpening equipment instead of paying for
"presharpened” gravers. The reason gravers are sold in longer lengths
than needed is that everybody’s hands are different, and a graver
length that I like may be too short or too long for your hand. When
you get the pre-shaped gravers, you may find that they might be
uselessly short very quickly. You will also have to reshape them
anyway with use, so you really aren’t saving a whole lot of time in
the long run. That’s what I don’t like about them. Not a bad idea to
get a couple just so you have an example of what they should look
like though. You also shouldn’t have to heat treat any gravers now.
That’s neat to know old-school stuff, but not necessary anymore, they
come properly hardened from the supplier. There’s no need to harden
gravers unless you over heat them while sharpening or you are making
some bent gravers for inside ring engraving, but those are available
Steve Lindsay sells a sharpening system that is superb, in my
opinion. It uses a patented jig and clamping arrangement that seems
to be loosely based on a very old jig technique. It creates a
patented graver geometry that is slightly different from the
traditional geometry. I personally like it a lot. See airgraver.com
for details. Well worth the money, it has saved me countless hours
and improved my work, mainly because each graver is sharpened exactly
the same as every other one, so there is no need to make test cuts.
If you break one, just chuck up another and keep on cutting.
The downside to the Lindsay Sharpening System is that it is only for
square gravers used for traditional engraving as opposed to gravers
used for stone setting, although the full system includes a flat
bottom jig. I have the flat jig but don’t use it; I prefer a radiused
belly on flat bottoms, which the Lindsay jig cannot produce. I use a
GRS PowerHone for rounds, onglettes and flat bottoms. It is also
possible to use a PowerHone with the Lindsay jigs, but you have to be
somewhat creative to fuse the two. The GRS “Dual Angle Graver
Sharpener” designed for use with the PowerHone is far more flexible
than the Lindsay system, but it does not produce the absolutely
perfect repeatability attainable with the Lindsay jigs. It also
costs about the same as the Lindsay jig system, but you will still
need a couple of flat bench stones. The PowerHone makes it really
nice but you will also need a couple of hundred dollars worth of
wheels to use it. Lindsay’s system comes with everything you need,
including four diamond bench stones, a half dozen jigs, a
presharpened carbide graver and a few square graver blanks.
No affiliation, I just love Lindsay’s exceptionally high quality
products and like to share when I find something really good.
How long until you get it right? Assuming you’re asking about graver
sharpening, with the Lindsay system you can have a graver properly
sharpened and ready for cutting in about an hour or two with no
instruction other than those included. Re-sharpening takes about five
to ten minutes, depending on how badly you broke the point. Any other
method will depend on your setup and your aptitude, ranging from an
hour or two to many years. Took me about three years to really figure
it out and get it down. But that was using homemade wooden jigs on
bench stones, glass and emery paper and was before PowerHones came
out and way before I found the Lindsay sharpening system.
How much time to learn how to engrave? To learn the basics and cut a
more or less decent line, with a properly sharpened graver and a good
method of holding the work, a few hours to a few days. To perfect the
skill, more time than we have on Earth. One of the things I love
about engraving is that the basics can be learned very quickly, but
it is a skill that can take a lifetime to perfect. In fact, I don’t
think achieving perfection is possible. Certainly no one that has
tried it since the Sumerians has been able to.
Lynton McKenzie is a legend among engravers. I have not seen the
videos but I have seen his books and have talked to people that have
the videos. He is a true master and I would unhesitatingly recommend
anything with his name on it.
Die sinker’s chisels can be used for cutting just about everything,
but they require considerable skill to use well. They are currently
primarily used for firearm engraving I believe, and their use is
becoming somewhat of a lost art as they are being replaced with
hand-held air powered tools.
Check out The Engraver’s Cafe at igraver.com/forum and the Lindsay
AirGraver forum at engravingforum.com. You will find more engraving
related stuff than you can possibly imagine. The engraving community
is incredibly sharing with and help. Just a great group
of people. Welcome to the fold!