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Engraving on my own

I totally concur with Doug Zaruba!!!..:>)

The most much needed on setting is to know how to shape,
sharpen and to grind a graver,“not engraver”. I use mostly two kinds
of engraving tools; the Flat and Onglette #2 shaped Graver. When I
teach my setting class how to master this rather difficult topic, I
will try to cover all the nuances of graver shaping. The tool length
(centre of the palm, and NOT extending the tip of the middle finger)
then having it sit in the wooden handle perpendicular to the
horizontal axis of the handle. Once this has been shown and very well
understood, comes the next stage. This technique is in my web-site
under “Graver Shaping”…3 pages just on this alone, you can read and
print for your archives. Please look under “Articles”@

If some of you folks are “self-taught”, you should be looking into
having a diamond setter show you all of the techniques…IN
PERSON…books and Cd’s are great. But a better method is to have
that person sit down BESIDE you, you can ask questions at any time.
Can books and CD’s talk back to you? Will they explain the most
insignificant aspect of how to feel the temperature of a overly hot
graver just before it gets burned?..“I engrave with a graver, not
with a engraver”…:>)

I was under the tutelage of a setter for over 9 years to learn all
the segments of graver shaping and setting practices. To assume that
’we’ can self-teach ourselves is not the way to go, trust me! If you
want to be a Brain Surgeon, can you be self-taught??? don’t think
so! why setting?

I will be at Metalwerx on February 4-6 just explaining this very same
topic, join us!

“Gerry, the Cyber-Setter!” @Gerald

I would like to announce on Orchid, something I have now sent to a
few people off line, in response to the thread “Engraving on my
own.” I will be teaching a 3-day Hand Engraving class at the Revere
Academy in San Francisco on January 24-26.

This is a perfect class for beginners or anyone who has dabbled in
hand engraving, to learn the essentials, get supervised practice
plus enough instruction to carry on independently. As mentioned on
Orchid, engraving is a very difficult skill to learn on your own.
But in a class with an experienced teacher, the art of engraving
unfolds as elegantly as the strokes made with the tools. I learned
from a German master engraver and have taught this skill for over 25
years. The Academy’s class covers all of the basics: selection,
preparation and sharpening of gravers; use of square, round, flat
and Florentine gravers; basic strokes, cuts, patterns and textures;
layout and transfer; signatures and monograms; foil and ink
printing; and more.

Check it out:

And if anyone has questions, please let me know.


Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts, Inc.
760 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, California 94102
tel: 415-391-4179
fax: 415-391-7570

Have a look at Steve Lindsay’s web site. They don’t come much

Lindsay Hand Gravers

Help others make informed buying decisions with Lindsay Hand
Gravers. We welcome your opinions and experiences with ordering,
customer service and and over all satisfaction.

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I just wanted to add my 2 cents here. i have taken an engraving class
with Alan Revere and learned an amazing amount. I had been taught
how to sharpen a graver before, but it was totally wrong. Alan
taught a technique that I am comfortable with and get consistantly
good results. Also, tho I don’t engrave on a regular basis, I
remember everything and have great notes to refer to. I would
definitely urge anyone who can to take this 3-day workshop. It is
way worth the time and money. Besides, what better city to visit than
San Francisco ! .)

Gini in finally cool Florida

I have a commercial venture I’ve been working on for the past 4
months. It involves a series of bracelets that feature my hand carved
(from wax) designs. When I eventually offer these for sale they will
come with the option of having one of several phrases engraved on
them. Without getting into the handmade versus non-handmade debate, I
would like to keep these pieces as close to “hand-finished” as
possible, so I’m loath to source them out to a laser engraver, but I
don’t think the price range I’m aiming for ($95 - $300 per piece) will
be able to bare the cost of sending the pieces to a professional hand

So I was considering the feasability of simply learning the craft
myself. I have about 9 more months before I am ready to release this
line of jewelry, with dedication do you all think I could learn to at
least do a decent job of engraving a name or two into gold and silver
pieces with a machine driven engraver (like the AirGraver or
Gravermax)? If this helps, I am an excellent artist
(painter and graphite) I have an eye for meticulous detail and I have
been carving wax for 4 years. I live in Ohio and I’m not aware of
anyone giving clases, so all my learning would be based on reading
and practicing.

If I do go this route could someone send their recommendations for a
good starting engraver, I would love an AirGraver but that is a lot
of money to spend on a “iffy” prospect.

Lastly, if you advise me against trying to do this in such a short
period, could any of you recommend a competent hand engraving service
that would fit into the pricing of my pieces?

Thank you all (and thanks also for your past advice)

Happy New Year

Continue from:

Yes, you can learn to hand engrave your inscriptions and you can
learn to do it well, in a pretty reasonable time frame. Things have
changed quite a bit over the past 30 years, with the advent of power
assisted pneumatic engraving tools. When this technology first
became available, hand engravers (myself included) pooh poohed the
"machines". We all said that engraving done with the aid of the
"machines" was not “real hand engraving”. Time has proven that

I personally purchased a GraverMeister (serial #238 28 years ago)
that sat under my bench where no one could see it. These early tools
were pretty crude. The original handpiece that came with the
contraption in those days was awkward measuring 7 or 8 inches long
and an inch in diameter. Youcouldn’t use it for much and it was
uncomfortable to hold onto for long periods of time. I used it once
in a while to stipple backgrounds, and the only real use I ever
found for it - was to chip the putty off windows and grout from
between tiles! I must admit that it did do that well!

Nowadays there are tools designed by an engraver who makes his living
from what he engraves with the tools that he makes and sells. With
these tools you can cut as much as 70% of the time you would have to
invest in learning to control a palm pushed wooden handle burin from
the past. There are new methods available to sharpen the tools
rapidly, precisely, and exactly. All of this has added up to a
Renaissance in hand engraving. There has been an explosion of
incredible talent in the past ten years. There are more truly
excellent" artist" hand engravers (most of whom use the new
pneumatic tools) than ever before in the history of the planet.

You cannot just go out and purchase one of these modern day wonders
and “be” an engraver. You still have to learn the skills and practice
applying the skills. You just learn faster, destroy less material
doing so, and rarely if ever slip enough to get seriously hurt. You
can produce at least triple what you could do with what we had 30
years ago.

I can still teach you the old methods palm push or hammer & chisel.
There are students who want to engrave at Renaissance Fairs and
Black-Powder Shoots. They need the old time realism to match the
period they are trying to recreate.

Most professional metalsmiths and even hobbyists coming into hand
engraving prefer to learn it faster and be able to engrave quicker
and better than they ever could’ve done just a few years back.
Thirty years ago we were using 8 track stereos. I’ll bet most of you
have passed through the cassette stage and moved on to the modern
day disc players. Same reasoning - hands down, it’s better.

Over the years I have had 3 carpal tunnel surgeries, 2 elbow
releases, and shoulder surgery caused by repetitive motion injuries
I got while engraving. I am completely convinced that had the tools
I’ve described existed early in my career, most if not all of these
injuries would have been prevented.

If anyone engraving out there still doubts what can be done with the
new fangled “machines” go and have a look at
Can YOU match that? With what? Hammer & chisel or palm pushed burin?
How long does it take you? I’d love to see it.

There is a price to pay for this convenience. The simplest of these
tools is around $500. A week with me will cost you $750. You’ll have
a skillthat will last the rest of your life. A competent engraver
charges $60 or more an hour these days. There is no lack of work.

You CAN learn to do it all by yourself. I did. There were no real
teachers available back then. It took me many years to become
proficient on my own. In my view taking a workshop/class should save
you enough time and money to more than cover the costs of the
workshop. You should leave with a solid understanding and enough
skills to take yourself to the next level on your own. You should
choose a teacher who has engraved for a living. Teaching old
methods/techniques won’t help you much, unless you plan to earn a
living reenacting history.

The 2005 schedule will be out next week. Every hand engraving tool
ever made is available to try here, and you should try them all
before you spend your money. (I do not sell any of them, all I do is
teach) If you are interested, contact me off forum.

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA 95209 USA
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio


After I’ve gotten competent at engraving and I’m finally working on
commercial pieces, what do i do if I’m working on an 18 k gold
bracelet and I slip up? Are there any tricks of the trade for
covering up mistakes? Or do I just resign the piece to the scrap metal

Also to Brian and anyone else with + years engraving experience, how
would you compare say the foredom rotary engraver to the pneumonic
engravers? Are they even comparable in your opinion? I was hoping to
purchase an all in one tool - grinding polishing and engraving, but
if experts in this forum advise against that I will just get a
seperate rotary tool and engraving set up.

Thanks once more for everyone one’s expert advice given on list and

Maybe you are looking at lettering the insides of these bracelets
from the wrong angle? Perhaps it would be cheaper, faster, and take
a lot less time to learn to etch your inscriptions into the insides
of your bracelets? You can get some pretty nice results from that
process… There’ a ton of on etching in the Orchid

Or look into one of the old manual pantographs. Do a search online.
A used basic machine with a diamond drag costs from $300 up.
Motorized “router style” models cost from $500 up. You’d have to a
bit of alteration to the machine to get it to engrave the inside of
a bracelet - but it can be done with one of the diamond drag
models. Cost is in your time not materials. I could walk you
through making your own “masters” for the machine to copy from.

Pantograph engraving is not the same as hand engraving - the results
are not nearly as nice - but it might get you by 'till you can find
the time & money to acquire hand engraving skills/tools. Learning
to use a pantograph can be done in a matter of a day or two.

Another option I just saw at a recent show… I’m still puzzling out
how it was done. I think that a laser print was made in reverse,
then that turned into a stencil. That in turned was maybe sprayed
with something that would adhere to the wax or plastic model. The
final result was raised lettering cast right on the piece. Looked
pretty sharp on the pieces I saw - but nobody could tell me who had
made it or how… Each piece had slight differences in the
lettering and/or the placement. That is why I think it was applied
individually and not a part of a master mold. Anyone seen it? Got
any idea how it was done?

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA 95209 USA
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio

    After I've gotten competent at engraving and I'm finally
working on commercial pieces, what do i do if I'm  working on an 18
k gold bracelet and I slip up? Are there any  tricks of the trade
for covering up mistakes? 

If you are using one of the pneumatic tools your mistakes and slips
should be .0000001 or less However, when it happens - and it
will - this is what separates the professionals from the rest.

No, not the wide range of cuss words in several languages - knowing
how to minimize if not actually “erase” the @#$%*! mistake. There
are many methods, from simple burnishing to bringing the entire
unengraved field down to the depth of the scratch/slip. I’m in the
process of writing detailed instructions on this. Stay tuned.

How would you compare say the Foredom rotary engraver to the 
pneumonic engravers?

Rotary tools are NOT in the same category at all. Different animal.
We (us engravers:) do use rotary tools for background removal,
hogging out metal for inlays, and texturing. These days most of us
use the high speed 35,000 rpm + tools. Foredoms and other flexshaft
brands (14,000 rpm) tend to “skip” and “walk” over the surface of
your piece at exactly the wrong time…

Actually, power assisted engraving tools come in two flavors:
Mechanical reciprocating tools such as the Foredom PowerGraver or
NGraver tools. Pneumatics use air. The two major brands of
pneumatics are GRS and Lindsay.

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
2207 Lucile Ave.
Stockton, CA 95209 USA
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio

Hi there, I just wanted to add a school here that does home studies
with hand engraving. It may not be as good as their hands on classes
but, it will give you the basics. Here is a link to the school’s
website. They also are a Jewelry school and they have a great watch
and clock repair department.

Just wanted to reply with a general thank you to everyone who helped
me with getting aquainted with teh ends and outs of engraving (Lou,
the website was indeed informative).

Last question, would anyone suggest using the Chicago Air Scribe for
serious fine engraving? I’ve seen it for sale in auto parts shops but
I’ve always been curious to wether it offers enough control for fine

I agree with lou Callaway, Gem city is a great school. Or at least
it was when I went there 25 years ago. I know that they still teach
hand engraving and they are one of the few that do. There is no
substitute for watching over someones shoulder while they
demonstrate to you personally how to do something.

John Wade
Wade Designs

   would anyone suggest using the Chicago Air Scribe for serious
fine engraving? I've seen it for sale in auto parts shops but I've
always been curious to wether it offers enough control for fine

While I have never used this particular unit, I have used other tools
sold under the name “Chicago pneumatic”. I believe that this is
Harbor Freight’s own brand. While I don’t want to put myself into a
slanderous position, I can only give you my personal opinion of this
line of tools. The tools that I have used are not of the quality
that I would have liked. They don’t appear to be made to close
tolerances and the documented air consumption rate (SCFM) seemed, in
practice, to be stated too low. They have not performed to my
satisfaction and have always been a disappointment. But, I guess
this is to be expected given their price and apparent quality control

    I agree with lou Callaway, Gem city is a great school. 

O.K., maybe I missed something, what city and state is the school
Gem City in? Is this the name of the school or where it is located?

Gem City College is in Quincy Illinois. I am not too sure why it is
called Gem City. When I went there they taught watch making, clock
repair, hand engraving, jewelry,and a jewelry store managment

Gem City College

  Offers complete training in Jewelry repair, Hand engraving,
  Jewelry design, Jewelry diamond setting and design. 

Assist others in searching for the right school. If you are looking
to expand your vocabulary in art, or the proper way to sharpen a
graver, we welcome your education experience.

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John Wade
Wade Designs