First graver purchase

Was: stabilizing an item while soldering

I am writing to thank everyone who replied, including off list.
Alastair, Doc, Giedrius, James Newton, Tim Blades, R.E. Rourke, and
if I left anyone out, I am sorry.

Two things that seem applicable to the kind of soldering I do are
holding gently with tweezers and the stitch method. Since I would
rather have one hand free, I want to try that raising stitches with
the graver.

Now I am going to get a square graver. I do not own any kind of
graver right now. I will be able to use a graver in bezel setting as
well. I would really love to get competent at engraving letters- not
just words, but Greek words in Greek letters- onto some surfaces. But
sticking to the subject, what’s a good graver to get as a first one?

Let me know, anyone, if I am buying just one graver (should I get 2?
A set?) which kind is good? I realize gravers need sharpening and
handles. What kind of handles are good? GRS system? A nice economy
model? My hands are medium-sized. Thanks in advance for

Connie Langan.


the very first and best graver to buy is an Onglette graver, either
#1 or the most common #2. I use this kind of graver but it can be
modified to be used as a bead-raiser, line cutting and then I shape
it as a “Right-Sided” shaped tool for “Bright-Cutting”.

I am presently grinding 10 gravers for a client of mine…and yes,
they are all pre-shaped and polished using the 4 polishing and emery
papers…all he has to do is to put them in to his wooden handle and
he can then work with them for years to come. These can be used for
the ‘stitch’ method, and other bezel cleaning purposes…if anyone
is interested of saving time modifying these yourselves…contact me
direct to “@Gerald”…and part of each sale will be given to
Orchid…not too mention with each order a CD will be given showing
how to use each graver to its fullest of its potential…your
graver maven…


Hi Connie,

I certainly wish you well in your endeavors. Working with gravers has
been discussed, and it’s a valuable skill to be added. Your gravers
have many uses from fancy stone-setting styles, to basic clean up, to
seat cutting, to pushing up stitches for positioning pieces. You will
accumulate different kinds and sizes of gravers as you go along, so
what you buy first will depend in part on what you want to do with
them. A square grave is an excellent start for general purposes, but
it is also more difficult to sharpen than others since it needs to
have 3 surfaces prepared. A round graver will only need to be
sharpened on the face, the rounded edge will still raise the stitch
you want for positioning purposes. If you buy a #50, ( the smallest
round), there will be very little difference in appearance of your
stitches from the use of the square. Another graver which you could
use for the stitches would be an onglette, (recommend #0 or #1 to
start, #3 for stone setting). It’s very similar to the round but
comes to a point instead, and you can still just sharpen the face to
45 degrees to use it for your immediate purposes.

Your gravers and handles are usually purchased separately. If you use
hand gravers, the graver will have to be shortened, and fitted to the
handle. (I use the half-mushroom, my hands are about medium, and my
average graver length is about 41/2 inches overall. Just a general
guide, you must make it for your own hand) ) The back end of the
graver is what is removed, a safe way is to do it by cutting v-
grooves on each side of back where it should be cut. Then snap it
apart. You will have to re-grind the back a bit to fit into the
handle. Drill a pilot hole in the handle first, place the graver
sideways in a vise, and gently tap the handle into place, being sure
to maintain the alignment between the bottom of the mushroom, and
the belly of the tool. The Gravermax, or other systems, each have
their own handpieces, and handles for use with the quick-change ends.
They sell gravers pre-shaped for the quick-change ends so you save so
time and material, although they may still have to be adjusted for
length, and will still need to be sharpened before use.

The GRS sharpening system will save you alot of time in sharpening
and will give you consistent angles each and every time you sharpen
any particular graver. The fully adjustable holder is the way to go.
(The holder is the key, there are homemade versions of the wheel out
there.) You can sharpen by hand with sharpening stones, and finish
with 4/0 emery paper on glass. Then you can use diamond spray on hard
leather for a mirror finish. You must maintain a short uniform stroke
throughout the process to keep the edges crisp.

The Gravermax will definitely help to increase your control, by
providing a controlled power so you stop when you need to. It’s an
investment, and not necessary for what you want to do now. Taking a
class if you can, will go a long way to learning this beautiful
skill. Fine hand engraving is an art unto itself, but the skillful
use of the graver will serve you well in all of your bench

Melissa Veres, engraver

Hello. Another useful resource are the sets of videos made by master
engraver Heinar Tamme. In them he shows how to learn the art of fine
hand engraving starting with the basics - which include graver
fitting and preparation - and continuing into advanced topics,
methods and exercises. Although Heinar lived and worked in the US
from 1946 on, he learned his profession in Europe as an apprentice
in Finland and Sweden. After fifty years of working as a professional
engraver, he decided to produce a series of instructional videos to
teach aspiring engravers the necessary skills as they were taught to
him complete with practice exercises and “tricks of the trade”.

Video clips from both the Beginners Set and the Advanced Series sets
are available at:

There is also a biography of Mr. Tamme there as well.

Disclaimer: I DO sell these video tapes. I discovered them after I
had tried to teach myself hand engraving by using books. When I
learned of the videos I bought a set and found that I progressed more
within the first 30 days of using them than I had during the one year
plus that I been trying to learn engraving by reading “how to” books.
Because the videos worked so well for me and because Mr. Tamme was
not actively selling them anymore, I bought the video rights from him
and set up a website where people can read about them, watch sample
clips of Mr. Tammes instruction and purchase them if they wish.

All the best to everyone,

Joseph Bloyd
JNB Studio

I want to thank Melissa, Joseph and Gerry for thoughtful
comprehensive posts regarding gravers. I have printed them out for

Joseph, I looked for a while at those DVD’s, and I decided tht I am
not yet in a position to justify an expense like that unless it were
incremental, but it’s not (from my memory).

I have bought a few gravers and am awaiting their arrival by post.
Meanwhile I have broken my ankle and cannot work (at my other job)
for maybe 6 weeks.

This may be a time I an use for developing graving and other basic

Just rigging up a comfortable way to work with left leg elevated…
and to create somehow a workspace that’s lower (mine is mostly
standing height).

Thanks again for the intro to engraving. I will keep you posted on
how it goes.

-Connie Langan