Hand engraving

dear sir,

i am interested in teaching myself and son hand engraving…do you
have any suggestions on the matter of self teaching or should i invest
in an engraving machine and go over the script with a graver? i have 19
yrs exper on the bench so i am not completly out of the loop. please
advise. sincerely, lisa mcconnell

Hi Scott I have been hand engraving 16 years , teaching yourself hand
engraving can be a real challenge there a some video tapes out there
you can purchase by GRS I have never used them but have been told are
very good , if you have a book store or art store around you get some
books on lettering, a big part of becoming a good hand engraver in
laying out your work start off with simple lettering , copper is a
great metal to learn on it has the feeling of sterling also order
yourself some china white you rub it on the metal so you can draw your
lettering. If you would like to call me I would be more then happy to
help you get started 973-635-6500 if you would like to see a sample of
my work go to http://www.handengrave.com Good luck.

Ron Proulx

Yes… I sure think hand engraving can be self taught. I learned
this way together with my father who purchased engraving equipment
when I was 12 years old (1970). I can remember sitting in my father’s
shop late at night with the radio going, peering through his diamond
scope engraving away (well trying to engrave). Later when I was in
high school, my father invited Lynton McKenzie (one of the worlds
finest engravers) who lived in Colorado at the time to come out to go
pheasant hunting. He came by train since he didn’t drive. We picked
up Lynton at 5:00 am at the local train station with my father. My
father was anxious to show Lynton how we were engraving under the
microscope. After Lynton saw the setup he said it wouldn’t work
because we were focused too much in one spot and would not see the
forest because of the trees. He thought we could not see the over all
layout while engraving. We went pheasant hunting and found some
pheasants. In fact we found a big patch of them…there must have been
30 of them flying up over the course of 5 minutes from the same large
weed patch. My father and I had modern day automatic shotguns and
were blasting away…but Lynton brought an old (engraved of course)
flint lock shotgun. He got one shot and then I remember seeing him
over the weeds jamming more shot and powder into the end of his gun.
I think he only got one shot at the 30 birds :slight_smile: Anyway back to the
diamond microscope: 6 months or so later my father went to Colorado
to visit Lynton. At that time Lynton was working together with
Richard Hodgson, gunmaker, knifemaker and wow super genius machinist.
When my father came into the shop there was Lynton peering through a
microscope engraving. Lynton was a super person and could tell you
the most impressive stories about kings and queens he had engraved for
over the years. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago.

A good book you should look for is called “Art of Engraving” by James
Meeks. Don Glaser (GRS) worked together closely with Meeks while Meeks
wrote this book. At the time the book was written Glaser and John
Rohner (Glaser’s brother-in-law) had just started marketing the
gravermeister. The Meeks book therefore ties in and talks about the
gravermeister. Even so… it is a book every engraver should have as
it is pertinent no matter how you push or drive your graver through
the metal. Try a search for it at http://www.amazon.com

Also there is an on-line hand engraving school on the web at:

There is a hand engravers forum that might help. It started not to
long ago… http://communities.msn.com/handengravers

There is another book you might look for called “Engraving on Precious Metals” Try Amazon for it too.

For a impact hand engraving handpiece I like the Air Chasing Graver
but I still use an older GRS graver sharpener.

I like the Air Chasing Graver better because you can adjust the
length of stroke to just a few thousands or as long as 3/8 of an inch.
At the fine settings it gives very delicate impact control for fine
banknote type engraving. The impacts per minute (speed of impacts)
are adjusted together with the length of stroke. Impacts per minute
range from 2,520 to a super fast 24,500. This is 20,500 impacts
faster than other engraving impact tools. Fast, delicate impacts mean
less stress on your graver’s cutting edge which means less point
breakage and less sharpening. A unique feature of the tool is the
lack of an internal spring for the return or impact stroke. This
lack of an internal spring means a wider power range (.05 PSI through
50 PSI). Also, without a spring in the design, the space normally
taken up by the spring (about one inch) is not needed. The overall
size and length of the tool can therefore be an inch smaller than
other bulino (palm push) impact handpieces. Another nice feature of
the tool is the noise level (or lack of it). There are no electric
rotary motors or valves vibrating on your bench. You have to hold the
Air Chasing Graver handpiece to your ear to hear in order to hear it
idling, although increasing the air pressure to 30 to 50psi will make
it become a little hard hitting jackhammer. I don’t have need for
this much power for the engraving I do and I usually have the tool set
from 5 to 20psi. With the length of stroke setting I usually have the
stroke setting on the shortest, fastest stroke to about medium length.

There are two hand engraving videos taken through a microscope that
you can watch on your computer. They are at:

Also there is a tutorial page that may help about general engraving
and adjustments of the Air Chasing Graver at:

Steve Lindsay
Hand Engraving

Air Chasing Graver

I’ve been reading the Hand engraving thread and work I’ve seen by Tom
Herman comes to mind. He calls his business something like Seven
Fingers. I think he does his work by engraving but it looks all
together different. Really deep cut leaves and other designs. His
stuff is so lush I just drool over it. How does he do that?

Scott: A great way to learn hand engraving is to get a set of videos
from Heinar Tamme, one of the few world master hand engravers. He
has made jewelry for many famous people including the Pope, Kennedys
and Rockefellers (and me, too). The set is 16 videos that he
produced himself and he teaches in the classic manner. He originally
is from Estonia, learned his trade in Sweden, and now lives in Port
Townsend. His phone number is (360) 385-5250. I don’t think he is
on-line. Address: PO Box 1032, Port Townsend, Washington 98368.

I have his whole set and am slowly learning to engrave, but you can
buy one or all. I love it!! I know that he has let people come and
spend a little time in his workshop with him from time to time. But
the tapes are very good and I think you wouldn’t need to do that
unless you wanted to. Good Luck! Kitti DeLong, from the most
beautiful place on earth, the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

Hi, there is a very good course in hand engraving taught by Rachel
Wells at Yavapia CC. If you would like the details just email me and I
can get them.


Annette mentioned Thomas Herman, he is one of the artists featured in
Alan Revere’s book ‘The Art Of Jewelry Making’ which includes the
detailed instructions for one of his projects and on his style of chasing,
engraving, and carving in gold.

This thread has come at an opportune time for me. I am looking for a
hand engraver that I will engrave inside wedding bands. I have
really enjoyed looking at the web sites of the engravers who have
responded to this thread…awesome work! But I am curious as to
whether such engravers, who do such intricate, time consuming work,
would want to take time out to do a couple of wedding bands every now
and then.

I would love to find someone who is near North Carolina (a border
state would be great to cut down on mailing time) or even better, in
NC. Anyone know of available artists?

Larry Seiger

I taught myself to engrave by reading books and talking to other
engravers, etc., and I can tell you that it can be a long uphill
climb. Later on I was very fortunate to be able to study with two of
the world’s engraving masters which was a huge boost. Now I teach
hand engraving at the GRS training center 4 times a year. If you
would like to learn to engrave quickly with 5 days of hands-on
personal instruction, this class is the way to go. Not only that, but
it’s a heck of a lot of fun, too! Check www.GRStools.com for more info
or feel free to drop me an email.


Sam Alfano
Exhibition Grade Hand Engraving


I don’t believe I have seen Tom Herman’s work before…but the way
you explained it with deep floral cut leaves I wonder if it is
sculptured and chased. I remember seeing a German engraving
teacher’s work at a show once. It was really beautiful and all 3d
scultpured. I believe the way he was doing this was drawing and
outline the design with a square graver and then he would begin with
chisels/flats/rounded flats…digging the design out and completely
sculpturing it. He undercut the leaves and then would go in with a
flat graver into the undercut using a chasing hammer or impact graver
to push the ends of the leaves up off the surface… After it was
roughed in he used small stones probably sharpened on a diamond lap
to smooth everything up. It was super beautiful…but I’m sure it all
depends on how well your art work was to start with. I have tried
sculpturing a few pieces but they didn’t look as nice as what others
can do at this tecnique.


I just had the opportunity to meet and talk to Tom Herman at the Craft
Expo here in Evanston, IL, on the campus of Northwestern University.
He gave a talk and demo. His pieces are, indeed, amazing, all
hand-carved and sawn. He uses gravers and tiny punshes withwhich he
pushes the gold or platinum around and carves it out. He describes it
as moving “just like clay”, believe it or not. He is an incredible
perfectionist, and a very modest man. It made me want to learn the
technique, but it would take years to get half as good. And yes, he
has only seven fingers, two on his right hand! --Noel

I am loving all the attention given hand engraving , I was taught by
a gentleman who taught himself he was very good but felt I wanted to
learn more, for about eight years I struggled although I was making a
living hand engraving I wanted to learn more, three years ago I had
the opportunity to spend one month with the master engraver at
Tiffany’s in NYC it changed my life , at first I felt really down
because I realized all the time I was engraving before this
opportunity was nothing more then getting by, I had to change
everything I learned before including my ego, I leaned so much in
that month now I’m like a sponge and want to learn more and more. In
the last three years my business has changed so much I get work that I
only could have dreamed of before , I was bless to do a book cover for
the late Cardinal O’Connor two weeks before he passed away from that I
was asked to do one for Pope John Paul , hand engraving can be one of
the most rewarding trades.

Dear Ron,

I have been following this thread with great interest as I, too, am
an engraver, and working for years in a constant effort to upgrade my
skills. I love the art, and want to do my part to see that it doesn’t
vanish for lack of skilled teachers and interested students. If it’s
possible for you to let me know how you were able to set up a month in
NYC working with a master engraver from Tiffnay’s, I would appreciate
all info that you can supply.

I have recently taken classes with Tom Herman and Hratch Nargizian,
both incredible artists and generous teachers, so I share the
enthusiasm that comes through in your message. To tap into those
great minds, pick up some new tricks to try, and to see those efforts
rewarded at your own bench makes the effort that you’ve put in before
seem as though you were just learning to walk! With both classes, as
the students understood the aim of each new technique, you could hear
an audible “Wow, I get it!” from all around the room.

I’m working to incorporate these new ideas and skills into my work
every day. I look forward to networking with other engravers, and
would welcome email. I am especiallly interested in sharing pricing
and in how others sell their work. I only engrave and
carve in precious metals, but really love doing the ornamental stuff,
and want to do more.

Melissa Veres