I am perplexed about how to get them ready to use. Several of
engravers themselves are FAR too long. They measure just over 6
inches!!! This measurement is without the handle attached. I can
see I would have NO control over them with that type of length. Is
there a way to shorten the steel?
Properly preparing the gravers is the first step to any work with
gravers, from stone setting to engraving, and it's an important one.
Improperly prepared and sharpened gravers will be almost impossible
to get decent work from, and can actually be dangerous in use.
First, mount the graver securely on it's handle. The style of graver
handle is a matter of choice, based on the size of your hand, how you
like it to feel, etc. One way to mount a graver it to hold it in a
vise, the tang pointing up. Predrill an undersized hole in the graver
handle if it doesn't already have one. Heat the back end of the tank
with a torch to bright red hot, then quickly drive the handle down
onto the tang with a mallet. Allow to cool, quench if you like. The
graver will burn it's way into the wood creating a perfectly fitted
socket in the wood, which tightens down on the tang as the wood and
the tang cool down again.
Then size the graver. Again, this is a bit of a matter of
preference, but in general, hold the graver in your hand as though
using it (the handle in it's appropriate place in your palm, and
extend your thumb as far down the graver as you comfortably can. Mark
that length, or maybe a slight bit more. That, for many people, is
about the right length to start with. In use, the graver will get
shorter over time, and that will be OK, but much longer than this is
usually harder to control, so you start by shortening it to that
Shorten the graver by putting it, again, in a good sturdy vise or
hand clamp, held by the vise jaws on the "good" part of the graver,
with the excess waste section protruding up above the vise jaws. WEAR
SAFETY GLASSES. Hit the extended end of the graver with a hammer. It
will snap right off and go flying away. You can hold a cloth towel
behind that waste part when you hit it to catch that section if you
Now comes the work. Sharpening the thing. For most gravers, the
first part it grinding off the back of the graver so it tapers from
the handle to the point. Depending on the shape and type of graver,
the thickness can be tapered anywhere from about half the original
thickness at the tip, to as little as a millimeter in thickness,
leaving just a delicate small tip of the graver at it's tip. The main
point is that the working end of the graver should be no larger than
needed to produce the cuts you wish, in order both to better see what
you're doing in sometimes tight quarters, but also so that you don't
have to grind off so much while sharpening and resharpening.
After the back is cut down to your desired taper towards the point,
you then sharpen the graver.
And that skill takes more than a quick message to describe. I'd
suggest getting a good book on engraving that shows the proper angles
and geometries for a proper point. There's lots of good info on Steve
Lindsay's web site on sharpening, as well as tons of other aspects of
hand engraving. Plus lots of examples you'll drool over... and
engraving discussion forums there where you can ask a bunch of
engraving experts and enthousiasts (www.Lindsayengraving.com Steve,
of course, is the inventor and builder of the Lindsay air graver line
of power engraving handpieces. These things make hand engraving a LOT
faster and easier both to learn, and to do. This type of tool will
cut your learning time way way down. The same is true of the popular
GRS brand of power engraving handpieces. Personally, I prefer Steve's
tools. Built by Steve, they work and look like a fine swiss watch or
piece of jewelry as much as a fine tool. I prefer the operation,
look, and feel of the Lindsay handpieces to the GRS tools, but it
should also be said that the GRS tools are fine quality as well, and
cost a bit less, I think.
Usual disclaimers Re: Steve Lindsay's site and tools. I've no
personal stake in either. I'm just a highly satisfied customer, and
as you'll be when you see his site and work, totally blown away by
what he does with these tools...