Maintaining hand gravers manually

The archive has lots of information about graver preparation and maintenance, and there seems to be some differences in this regard between the purposes of stone setting and bright cutting compared to engraving.

There is a suggestion in the archives that beginners, who are manually sharpening and polishing gravers with stones, would find the preparation and maintenance easier if they use carbon steel gravers instead of HSS. And that an experienced user would prefer HSS gravers because they require less maintenance.

In terms of the experienced person using stones, I have a couple of questions about the maintenance of HSS gravers compared to carbon steel:

Would you use different stones with HSS than you would use with carbon steel, because of the hardness difference?

And even though carbon steel requires more frequent maintenance, is the time saved by using HSS consumed by it requiring more time to complete the maintenance, due to the hardness of HSS?

If you use diamond impregnated sharpening stones and diamond polish you will save much time and there will be very little difference in how long it takes to sharpen and polish a graver whether it is high carbon HSS or my personal favorite tungsten carbide. Diamond is not that much more expensive than a good quality Arkansas stone. I have both but since buying diamond my arkansas stone has not seen a graver in years. Even better if you can find someone selling an old faceting machine, even one of the hobby brands. It makes a great graver sharpener.

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Can I use a flat lap and lapidary diamond disks?


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Do you dedicate those lapidary diamond disks for metal or can you use the same disks with gemstones?

Do you use a Crocker graver holder to get the correct angles with the flat lap?

I actually have a GRS power hone, but I routinely use lapidary disks on it (which I also use on stones). However, about 80% of the time, I just sharpen gravers by hand at my bench because I don’t want to have to get up, go over to the hone, set up a holder, etc. I had originally been trained to sharpen by hand so most of the time, that’s what I do. Every so often though I’ll have a stubborn graver that I just can’t seem to get the angle correct on and then I’ll go over to the hone. I should note that I will often use those lapidary disks at my bench to sharpen by hand as well…I don’t limit them to the hone which incidentally comes in handy when I need to sharpen up some lathe tooling. :wink:

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For push graders I usually use a 5” grinding wheel to get them 99% of the way then polish on a stone by hand. I’ve gotten in the habit of using Ceragloss wheels to get a mirror finish on the graver face when needed. I only use my grs hone about 5% of the time, but it’s nice to have.

I also have a Lindsay airgraver that I use primarily for vintage hand engraved detail. For that I use his sharpening system, which is excellent.

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I have used a crocker graver holder on the platform of the faceting machine I use as a graver sharpener. But it was kinda futsy so I bought the holder that they sell to use with a GRS graver sharpener.

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Crocker Graver on a flat lap…

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I use first a carborundum stone, then an Arkansas stone, and then ‘drag’ it (lying on its side, pulling towards me --to remove any bur) on the very finest grain emery paper (which feels sort of like babies’ skin). All by hand, right at the bench. I got a Crocker holder, but never used it as it just slows me down.

Janet in Jerusalem

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