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Old gravers and miligrain tools with longer handles

I recently purchased a box full of old Jewelers tools from a lady
whose husband was a Goldsmith and has passed away. Included was a box
of old gravers and miligrain tools with a very different handle
style. The handles were longer than the ones used now, with a slot
down the middle and string wrapped around the handle with a screw in
the center.

My question is, are these used any differently than standard
gravers? They all seem to be shorter than normal as the metal gravers
are only about BD inch past the handle.

Any help wlould be appreciated.

Gerry, that style of graver handle (they’re still available, by the
way, and favored by some I know) is intended to allow you to adjust
the mounting of the graver by moving the placement of the screw
forward, as the graver gets shorter in use from sharpening. Normally
mounted, at first the screw is all the way back, and ends up further
forward by the time the graver is a well used favorite tool. The
string is easy to retie when needed. The advantage is that from
beginning to end, you have a graver where the tip remains in roughly
the same position (length). With the more common graver handles, you
do the same thing if you wish, by starting with a handle having a
short “stem”, and moving to handles with longer stems as the graver
wears. More fuss, I think, than these adjustable ones where you use
the same handle. The use of the gravers themselves remains the same.
And if you measure the length of the graver not from how much it
extends past the end of the handle, but rather from the back of the
handle to the tip, you’ll find the length comparable (though in this
case, fitted to the preferences of the previous user) Also, because
these mount the graver with a tight string tie nearer the front, and
supporting the back of the tang also, it’s a quite sturdy and rigid
mounting of the tool. The handles can feel a bit different than the
mushroom style handles, but they’re comfortable enough. The main
drawback, last I checked, is they cost a little more than the
mushroom handles.


Hi Gerry:

Those are old style adjustable handles. Note that the total length of
tool should be more-or-less the same as a normal graver, it’s just
that these have a wooden sleeve covering most of the blade. The idea
was that instead of snapping them, and grinding away half their
length, you cut them down a little, then put them in the wooden
handle. The screw forms a backstop to keep the blade from sliding
back, and the string winding keeps it contained in the groove in the
handle. As you sharpen away the tip, you can unwind the string, move
the screw up, and restore them to whatever length you like.

When well made, they work great, from what I’ve been told. I’ve been
looking for some for years, so if you find you don’t like them, let
me know.


I've been looking for some for years, so if you find you don't like
them, let me know. 

They’re not identical, but they’re the same idea - pretty much
everybody carries them, but I’ve never used one myself:

... that style of graver handle (they're still available, by the
way, and favored by some I know) is intended to allow you to
adjust the mounting of the graver by moving the placement of the
screw forward, as the graver gets shorter in use from sharpening. 

WHERE are they available?? However the ones I REALLY like only have
the string to tighten the handle around the graver. Has anyone seen a
source for these, as well?

I thought I was the only person preferring these handles! Thanks for
mentioning them!

Hi John:

Thanks for the link. Those aren’t quite what I was after, but they’re
close. If memory serves, those take special gravers, rather than the
standard ones in use with the stringed handles. I suspect I could
probably get the stringed ones from Fischer, if I was willing to go
to the trouble, but I’m not hunting them that desperately. It’s
just a thought that floats by every so often.

Brian. Stock# HAN-605.00 $5.95 Photo
shows them with the screw, but unless the groove needs to be
narrower or something (I can't think why), you wouldn't need to use
the screw if you don't want, provided you get the wrap tight

Thanks, Peter! I really appreciate your having searched this out.
This really demonstrates the real value of Orchid.


Are you looking for graver handles that are mushroom shaped, with a
groove in them. They take a standard graver, and it’s held in place
by a screw at the palm end, and sting near the graver end?

Those are the EFB handles, designed for the EFB style gravers. less
useful for other types of graver.

Here’s the right type, from I.Shor.

Stock# HAN-605.00 $5.95


Thanks to several people on this forum who pointed me the right
direction! I’m putting together an order of these and several other
things I found on their web site.

Once again, this is not only greatly appreciated, but demonstrates
the real value of this far- flung community.


My first apprenticeship was with a jeweler (still with us at 97) who
apprenticed in the 1930s. They made them by hand back then. He told
us that the gravers were used by immigrant jewelers & diamond setters
who came from turn of the century Germany. The company he worked for
is still with us today (fourth generation) and at one time made all
the mother and child jewelry. They outsource now, but that’s another

For those who don’t know what these look like, EuroTool currently
makes them. The distributor we use is Twin City Supply at
952-545-2725. The stock number is GH-605 and cost $5.95 each.

They are designed like all gravers to fit on the palm of your hand.
They only make one size, but for people with smaller hands we cut the
back off to make them little shorter. The concept is that the blade
of the graver is held securely in the whole handle. You don’t have to
break them off half way like the smaller mushroom shaped handles.
This allows a lot more strength in raising beads and more control of
the tool (at least in my opinion). The non working end of the graver
called the tang is heated until red and bent at a right angle to fit
into a series of holes drilled into the long slot on the bottom. The
blade is tied into the handle with a strong nylon string or even a
heavy duty fish line. The string securing the blade gives your hand
much more leverage in using the tool. The string area is where you
grip it. As the blade is used and gets shorter, you take it out of
the handle and advance the blade up the series of holes and restring
it. The screw in the back is new. If I use the screw, it is more of a
safety feature to keep the blade of the graver from ever slipping out
of the handle and going into the palm of your hand. The working end
of the graver is all of one half to three fourths of an inch out of
the handle.

We had our wood shop make these for many years. GIA made them also
for many years and called them Taylor style graver handles. When GIA
stopped making them in the late 80s we had them made in Minneapolis
by an independent wood worker. They at one time were about $1.00

I as well as all the other instructors at our College still use this
style handle and teach all the stone setting courses with it. In
fact most of the Midwest jewelers that were apprentices and students
of Ray Grobe still use these handles.

Todd Hawkinson
Minneapolis Comm & Tech College