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[Looking4] Crocker engraver sharpening tool


#1

I would like to find a sharpening tool for my gravers. I’m too new
to engraving to trust that I could even hope to get the angle right
by “feel,” and I don’t have the thousand-plus dollars my research
told me that it’d cost to buy a new power sharpening system. The one
review of the hand sharpening tool at Rio Grande’s website for their
Crocker graver sharpener said that it’s “Crocker-style,” and that
the reviewer doesn’t recommend it (politely paraphrased).

So I guess I’m looking for an older non-knock-off in decent shape
that someone would be interested in selling me, or in purchasing a
used power sharpening system. Or a recommendation for a site that
sellsreally good hand sharpening tools. Actually, if anybody out
there in Orchid-land would be willing to suggest alternatives, or
tips and tricks for getting the sharpening angle right (ideally
without ruining several graver blades in the process of practicing),
I’d be ever so grateful. I would actually at this point prefer to
learn to do it by hand, just because I think it’dbe a good skill to
have. Also compounding the issue, I have very limited resources,
since I’m currently still a student.

I got a very small bit of experience using the power sharpening tool
they use in the GIA bench jeweler program, so I think I can
(probably) get it right by hand with a little elbow grease and some
reading up on the subject. I just need to get myhands on the right
equipment. I suppose if I want to get really basic, if someone could
point me in the direction of an angle gauge, I could try that, but
then I’m running up against the issue once again of ruining graver
blades while practicing hand sharpening. I think at this point, I
know justenough to be dangerous…

I’ve been keenly following another thread discussing the fact that a
lot of women entering the trade nowadays weren’t encouraged to learn
about ANY tools in general, how to identify them, use them, or how
to maintain them. I’m one of those women. I don’t lack for curiosity
or willingness to practice, but I also have a severe allergy to
destroying brand-new tools, plus a steep learning curve. And months
yet before Ican go back to the GJ program at GIA.

Thanks so much in advance.
Lara


#2

Go to Steven Lindsay’s site and look at his templates. Depending on
what you are doing, he has different sharpening guides. Besides his
hand powered engraving system will give you a serious case of lust.


#3
The one review of the hand sharpening tool at Rio Grande's website
for their Crocker graver sharpener said that it's "Crocker-style,"
and that the reviewer doesn't recommend it (politely paraphrased). 

I have used Crocker style sharpener for the last 40+ years.

It is fine sharpener, but like everything else it is not foolproof.

One problem is that wing nuts are of very low quality. Wings will get
lose after short time. I replaced them with 10-32 mechanic bolts and
use allen wrench to tighten them. My blog “toolmaking 5” has
demonstration of it.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#4

The thing with the Crocker graver is setting the “right” angles. You
have to have a guide for each type you are planning to prepare and
then the tool is just a matter of inserting the prepared graver with
the appropriate amount of metal already removed from the "tang end ",
the cutting end, etc (except on the liner gravers) and tightening it
down and then rolling it as level as possible over various oiled
stones from cutting to finer grits. That’s one reason the GRS “power
hone” is a nice, but electric, tool if you do a lot of engraving for
sharpening them. If you don’t a crocker graver sharpener is the
sharpener of choice for me! I also prefer non-electric tools whenever
possible and practical- in this case it is practical for me. there is
another “graver sharpener” that is total junk- merely a vise to hold
the graver. At least the Crocker allows some adjustment. The review
in the Rio catalogue doesn’t do the thing justice- the person didn’t
know how to use it for one thing. the spinning disc, i think the
person called it, is for the pitch. there is an index ring on the
main body of the machine (which I blacken with a sharpie to highlight
the markings and numbers when necessary- just rub it over the ring
and quickly wipe off the excess before it has time to dry, or you can
use a paint marker to highlight the markings as well).

The GRS single angle or double angle sharpeners are nice but very
pricey particularly if you aren’t going to do engraving by hand a lot
of the time. in which case the crocker graver sharpener will work
just fine. The main thing to remember is before sharpening a graver
it has to be prepared- which is different for each shape and each
hand. Finding good instructions on this subject come from older books
on jewellery making- my favourite was printed in 1921 in the UK. and
was designed for journeymen apprentices to take their tests to become
fully fledged jeweller’s. They had no GRS systems back then and each
graver (including some whose names are different than what are
normally found in catalogues today) was treated.

If you just plan on maintaining a good assortment of gravers for
detailing, adding designs, and lining (which is a nice skill to have
due to quality the depth that “shading” gives to fine arts can be
recreated on metals- annealed that is!)) a crocker graver sharpener
will work just fine once you get the hang of it. - a flat surface,
good lubricant, pre prepared gravers or steel stock, and various
stones or laps are also necessary for not only getting the gravers in
working order, but maintaining them. If you have more questions feel
free to contact me. rer


#5
The thing with the Crocker graver is setting the "right" angles.
You have to have a guide for each type you are planning to prepare
and then the tool is just a matter of inserting the prepared graver
with the appropriate amount of metal already removed from the "tang
end ", the cutting end, etc (except on the liner gravers) and
tightening it down and then rolling it as level as possible over
various oiled stones from cutting to finer grits. 

I understand that all of us busy and frequently we ignore links.

However, given the length of this discussion, maybe it is a good idea
to take a look before continue.

One more time. On my blog, toolmaking 5, there is pictures and
explanation of how to use Crocker type sharpener to achieve angle
consistency, convenience, speed, graver preservation, and etc. I
would not use GRS sharpening system if someone gave it to me for
free, forget about paying for it. To prepare graver takes long time
and a lot of work. After all this investment, I want to use it long
time, which means sharpening with wasting as little of graver length
as possible. GRS sharpening system eats up gravers like a hungry
lion.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#6

Lara, you do not need to worry about destroying a graver by
sharpening it by hand with a Crocker-type holder. Engravers are
always breaking off the tiny tips of gravers anyhow, and that’s why
we need to resharpen them, often. If you get the angle wrong, you
just do it again. I started with a Crocker type holder, and it was
economical and pretty effective. I ran the bottom part on a sheet of
glass or something similarly flat, upon which I rested my stone.

The time when you CAN actually damage the graver is when you are
grinding its basic angled shape after first breaking it off to the
correct length. Then, it must not be overheated. So keep dipping it
in water to keep the tip cool as you grind away. This is usually done
on an electrically-powered grindstone of some kind, which is capable
of causing friction heat very quickly.

Someone does make some plexiglass guides for sharpening, but I don’t
know the name. I bet you could Google them.

  • M’lou

#7

I have a crocker graver sharpener, but no instructions as to how to
use it. I would like to use it with my GRS quick change gravers which
come with the GRS quick change handle.

Do I have to remove the handle and insert the graver in the Crocker,
or can I insert it with the handle in place.

Also, when sharpening with the Crocker, do I sharpen with the face
of the graver down and the belly of the graver up? This may seem
like a stupid question, but I am new at working with gravers.

Alma


#8

Hi Alma,

Sounds like you and I are both at about the same point (no pun
intended) with engraving. I do know from my brief period in GIA’s
Graduate Jeweler program that you always want the belly up. Don’t
want to mess with the cutting side, especially with things like line
gravers. And sharpen so that you aren’t pushing the graver tip into
the stone. Flashing can be gotten rid of by driving the point
repeatedly into a block of soft wood. Won’t hurt the sharpening job
a bit, and you can burnish afterward if you’re worried, or see
anything under magnification that doesn’t look right.

Mind if I ask where you bought your Crocker? I’m being told that the
one fromRio Grande isn’t so bad, and I’m at the point where I don’t
dare use my gravers because they’re so dull I risk stabbing myself.
Not good.

I havethe GRS quick-change gravers too. =)

I won’t be able to go back to the GJ program until the first class
of 2014, sadly. I love that class–learned an amazing amount in the
six weeks I was in. Had to drop out for two different surgeries.
Life takes some odd twists.

  • Lara

#9
Do I have to remove the handle and insert the graver in the
Crocker, or can I insert it with the handle in place. 

No you don’t have to remove the handle, as long as the graver can
extend out far enough.

Also, when sharpening with the Crocker, do I sharpen with the face
of the graver down and the belly of the graver up? 

You do all three surfaces actually. The face is usually shaped first
and then the heel is ground and polished one side at a time.

The Crocker style sharpener has been around a long time and can be
used very successfully. I used one for years, long enough that the
round feet are now polished flat. Its main drawback is that it is
almost impossible to re-create the same geometry every time. Its only
adjustment is roll and the markings on the barrel are all but
useless. The length that the graver extends is critical in achieving
the correct relationship of angles, and if it isn’t exactly the same
every time, the entire geometry will be different, even if the same
degree settings are used. Worse, it’s extremely difficult to sharpen
your graver so it doesn’t come out with slightly different angles on
either side, which can make you want to pull your hair out trying to
figure out how come the point keeps slipping or breaking when you
had it so perfect before.

I really recommend that anyone that has an interest in learning any
facet of engraving check out Steve Lindsay’s sharpening system at
www.airgraver.com. The basic design and operation is that of a
three-sided fixed Crocker, much like the home made wooden jigs of
days gone by. It takes all the guesswork out of it and providing you
use a little care in setup, your graver geometry will be identical
every single time. A MAJOR time saver. No test cuts and the resulting
need for tweaking of angles required before returning to the work as
is so common when using a Crocker. It requires no power and is
inexpensive compared to a lot of other options. The main downside is
that you can’t experiment with slightly different geometry, you’re
kind of stuck with each of five or so different shapes. But I haven’t
found any need to change any of them at all. Steve did all of the
experimentation for us. It also only works with 3/32 square gravers
without handles.

The GRS Dual Angle Sharpening Fixture is a vast improvement over the
Crocker style jig. Because of the dual angle adjustments (both roll
and pitch, very much like fixtures used in lapidary faceting work),
the length that the graver extends is unimportant as long as it can
reach the stone without the bottom of the fixture interfering. Face
and heel angles can be repeated with a much higher degree of accuracy
than with a Crocker. Experimentation with different geometries is
easy and it will fit almost any size or shape of graver, with or
without a handle. It is intended for use with the power hone as it
has a magnetic base, but a power hone isn’t required at all. It works
very well with standard stones. It also allows for radiusing flat
bottoms and keeping them ultra-flat at the same time. Almost
impossible to do any other way. No doubt, this is the most adaptable
of all of the sharpening systems available today. But a knowledge of
graver geometry is required or it can be just as frustrating as a
Crocker to figure out. Maybe more so.

A comment on the use of power hones. It has been stated that they
are useless because they grind gravers down to nubs in seconds. That
is absolutely true if the only lap that is used is a 180 grit diamond
lap. But that isn’t the only grit available by a long shot. It’s kind
of like stating that a powered polishing lathe should never be used
because it polishes all of the detail and years of wear off of
jewelry in seconds. Which is also true if it is only ever used with 8
inch ultra-hard treated wheels and crocus compound.

When a power hone is used with a ceramic lap charged with 50,000
mesh (1/2 micron) diamond, it polishes a graver exceptionally well
while removing virtually no material. In fact, it can be agonizingly
slow when used with the finest grit sprays. There are several
different grits of diamond impregnated wheels, ranging from around
160 to 2000 grit. Lapidary laps can also be used, giving us even more
options. Then there are the ceramic laps which are charged with one
of several different grits of diamond, usually applied with a
sprayer, which are used for final polishing. That said, I use mine
mainly for bulk removal and basic shaping, a lot of which is done on
tools other than gravers. Pretty handy little device if you like
grinding your own tools without having the worry of over-heating
them.

I do most all of my graver sharpening with the Lindsay system, with
the exception of flat bottoms on which I prefer a radiused heel. You
can’t do a radiused heel with the Lindsay jigs or a Crocker. But with
a dual angle fixture, a power hone and ceramic lap, it’s a high
polished piece of cake two minute job. A dream come true if bright
cutting is your thing.

Dave Phelps


#10

Lara,

I got my Crocker from a friend. She never used it. I believe she got
it from Rio. I will check with her and find out if I am correct.

Alma


#11
Its main drawback is that it is almost impossible to re-create the
same geometry every time. Its only adjustment is roll and the
markings on the barrel are all but useless. 

Absolutely false. Crocker allows fine adjustments in all 3 axes.

If someone does not understand how to use it, than one should learn.

Another thing was mentioned is “flashing”. I am not going to argue
about terminology, but if graver forms metal ridge during sharpening
aka flashing, it means graver is not correctly tempered. Should never
happen.

About line gravers. The correct name is florentine, not line.
Sharpening, preparation, and using them is a specialty on it’s own.
It would be a disservice to give any kind of instructions in email
form.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#12
I understand that all of us busy and frequently we ignore links.
However, given the length of this discussion, maybe it is a good
idea to take a look before continue. One more time. On my blog,
toolmaking 5, there is pictures and explanation of how to use
Crocker type sharpener to achieve angle consistency, convenience,
speed, graver preservation, and etc. 

I went to your site, expecting to see info on setting the correct
angles of the graver in the jig (given that this varies with every
stone), as I have never seen printed directions for the Crocker
graver anywhere—mine certainly did not come with them. This is
what I found:

I am not going to spend time describing jig operation. If you have
one, you know how to use it. If you do not, it comes with
instructions, which you can read when you buy it.

If you reread Alma’s posts, I think you will find that she also has
no instructions and that is precisely the info she needs…:-)…

Janet in Jerusalem


#13
I went to your site, expecting to see info on setting the correct
angles of the graver in the jig (given that this varies with every
stone), as I have never seen printed directions for the Crocker
graver anywhere---mine certainly did not come with them. This is
what I found: 
I am not going to spend time describing jig operation. If you have
one, you know how to use it. If you do not, it comes with
instructions, which you can read when you buy it. 

Correct engraving angles has nothing to do with operation of jig.

When I purchased mine, granted it was quite a few years ago, it came
with instructions, which explained how it works. If they are sold
without such instructions, I can remedy it here. If you loosen wing
nut, the direction which wing nut controls can be adjusted.

Once adjusted secure wing nut again. That is all.

The part of my blog that you referring to is not about engraving but
about toolmaking. I used gravers simply as an example of applying
theory in practice. That is why there is no reference to setting
angles. For what it worth, here is sort into into angles.

Setting angles is part of engraving skills, not jig operations.

Jig only maintains angle once set. All you do is insert graver into
jig and allow it to rest on stone. Then you eyeball the angle formed
by stone surface and graver and decide if that is what you need. In
the beginning you can make yourself angle templates.

In the short time your should be able to eyeball angles quite
precisely.

I do not recommend relying on markings. The angle will change
depending on length of part of the graver protruding from jig.

The best way is to train your eye.

In case of script gravers and and some stone setting situation,
another adjustment is required. It is slope of cutting surface (as
looked from above) towards cutting edge.

This is done as follows:

Loosen wing nut controlling rotation of graver and rotate it
slightly, Secure the nut and make one of two strokes. Examine surface
under magnification and adjust if required. Make another couple of
strokes and repeat until you are satisfied with results.

I am not giving precise degrees because it depends on many factors.

Every engraver has his own set of adjustments, which can only be
discovered through practice. Start with 45 degrees (side view) and 7
degrees heel angle. Slope controls width of the cut. No slope for
thin lines and as much as 10 degrees for extra wide. Vary these
angles until graver cuts effortlessly with great degree of control.

Leonid Surpin
Studioarete.com


#14
Absolutely false. Crocker allows fine adjustments in all 3 axes. 

I stand corrected. I just looked at the Crocker tool in the Rio
catalog and it does indeed have pitch adjustment in addition to roll.
My old jig does not and so is adjusted in pitch by how far the graver
extends and the difference in levels of the stone and the bench or
glass surface.

The procedures and nuances involved in graver sharpening are
complex. The engraver needs to have at least a basic understanding of
how graver angles interact to be able to get a useable graver using
pretty much any adjustable sharpening jig. With a Crocker or similar
jig, rough angles are set using the marks on the jig, but the fine
angles (especially on the belly) are set by stoning and then looking
at the faces on the graver more than anything else (unless some
pretty accurate machinist type measuring devices are available), and
then verified by use. So it is a must to know what they are supposed
to look and feel like. This is one of those subjects in which the old
saw “a picture is worth a thousand words” really does apply. Graver
sharpening is arguably the most complex and difficult to master part
of the entire art and can’t be taught or learned using a few hundred
words of written text.

If personal instruction is not feasible, I would recommend a couple
of different books that cover the subject quite well, complete with
illustrations -

“Engraving on Precious Metals” by A. Brittain and P. Morton.

“The Art of Engraving” by James B. Meek.

But the one that has the best instruction on graver geometry and
preparation, in my humble opinion would have to be “The Jewelry
Engravers Manual” by R. Allen Hardy and John J. Bowman.

If someone really doesn’t want to get that far into it and just
wants to be able to cut some lines, I would again recommend the
Lindsay Sharpening System found at airgraver.com. It is just about as
foolproof as it can possibly be. One needs very little knowledge of
graver geometry or even what a graver should look like. Follow the
directions and half an hour after starting with a square blank, you
will have a useable graver. Not just barely useable, a well balanced,
really nice cutting, strong pointed graver. It will not turn anyone
into an instant master engraver and it isn’t perfect for every job
(there is no geometry that is), but it can take one variable -
arguably the most difficult one - off the table. At least long enough
for the artist to become familiar enough with the whole thing to be
able to understand what they are trying to achieve by experimenting
with graver geometry and why - and maybe even more importantly -
whether the changes made are making their graver work better or not.

I have no affiliation with Lindsay, I just love and use the heck out
of his inventions.

Like so many other things in the creation of jewelry, everything in
graver geometry is a trade off. There are a lot of different opinions
as to what is correct and what is not, just about as many as there
are engravers. Very few accomplished engravers prepare and use their
tools in anything near an identical manner. The truth about it is
simple enough though - if it works for you, it is right.

Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

Dave Phelps