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Polishing Gravers

All, I am interested in techniques for polishing gravers to a mirror
finish. Do you polish before you sharpen and what type of polish is
used. I cannot seem to get a mirror finish on my flat gravers. This
makes bright cuts have grooves and an uneven look.

Related readings:


Engraving Tools and Preparation

J Morley/Goldsmith/Laserwelding

The quickest and most successful method of polishing gravers or any
hard steel is to use daimond lapping compounds. these can be obtained
from gemmological supply places - usually in a small syringe which
will last for years. I use a total of 6 grades for polishing my watch
parts and work through them from the coarsest to the finest,
depending on how scratched the steel is to start with and how high a
polish I need on the finished part. The coarsest grade I use is 45
micron and the finest 0.25 micron. You should completely harden and
sharpen the graver first and then start polishing with the coarsest
grade of diamond on a flat supportive surface such as the perspex
sheet I use. When the surface looks to have an even degree of
scratches or be uniformly dull, thoroughly clean it, take a new piece
of perspex and repeat the process with the next finest grade of
diamond paste. Carry on like this until you have the degree of
polish you require. Cleanliness is absolutely vital as just one grain
of a coarser grade of compound will ruin the next finer polish.
Writing about it probably takes longer than doing the job…

In finishing gravers for normal use and for honing the face to
resharpen edges, I use old computer chips. The old 386 and 486
processors and some of the other older memory chips were encased in a
ceramic material which is absolutely ideal for bringing hard steel up
to a brilliant shine. You need to test the chips first to make sure
you done have a plastic coated one - the ceramic ones usually have a
purple or grey colour cast. Technology really is useful !

Best Wishes,

Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

Again, my apologies for taking so long to reply to the engraving
posts. One has to do what is necessary to keep body and soul together
before playing on the Internet…

The following consists of excerpts from the “Graver
Sharpening” booklet by Brian P. Marshall

How to polish your gravers can depend on several things. Most
important would be the metal that the blank is made from. Then the
purpose of the graver, the material being cut, and finally the
geometry results you are lo oking for may be affected by your method
of pre-polishing and polishing.

The most common metals and methods I see used for gravers blanks are:

Carbon steel - 4/0 pre-polish, Simichrome or stainless rouge final
polish - OR 1,200 pre-polish to 50,000 diamond polish

M2 - 4/0 pre-polish, Simichrome or stainless rouge final polish - OR
1,200 pre-polish to 50,000 diamond polish

Water hardening drill rod - 4/0 pre-polish, Simichrome or stainless
rouge final polish - OR 1,200 pre-polish to 50,000 diamond polish

High speed steel - 4/0 pre-polish, Simichrome or stainless rouge
final polish - OR 1,200 pre-polish to 50,000 diamond polish

Cobalt high speed steel gets harder to polish but can still be don e
with above diamond begins to be a better/quicker solution

“Carbalt” - diamond only, some heel angles on the Carbalt gravers are
put on entirely with 50,000 grit diamond, and for these there is no
pre-polishing step.

Tungsten Carbide diamond only, some heel angles on carbide gravers
are put on entirely with 50,000 grit diamond, for these there is no
pre-polishing step.

Almost all final pre-polishes (example 4/0 paper) are applied ACROSS
the graver heel, instead of lengthwise. The reason for this is that
if you accidentally include a few tiny scratches, they will not
affect the “bright” cut - since they run in the opposite direction.

Polishes are applied across the heel of the graver when using the
50,000 diamond charged ceramic rotating wheels, but that is more
difficult to do when polishing on strops made of cardboard, leather
or hardwood. Care must be taken to keep the corner edge of the
graver from catching or digging in and tearing these materials. You
must also watch out that the softer materials don’t roll or blunt
the cutting edges on the corners/sides of the gravers.

I favor both right and left handed “half point” gravers for bright
cutting around bead set stones. These are shaped like an onglette
sliced vertically. Pre-polished on worn 4/0 paper, and finished with
Simichrome and/or 50,000 diamond paste.

For actually raising beads, I use mostly # 51, 52, and sometimes 53
round gravers. These round gravers generally do not require
polishing, though they do often get a very short heel depending on
the application. They are used as “wedges” to raise up the material
to form a bead. Of all the gravers on the setting bench the round and
onglettes probably get sharpened the most often because the tips are

Ornamental gravers, especially “Liners” are not polished in the same
manner as setting gravers. Because the “teeth” are the very reason
they are used, care must be taken not to damage them. Polishing them
is done lengthwise - in the direction of the lines. First the oxides
that form during manufacturing or your own "alterations/bending"
must be removed from between the “teeth.” Th is can be done on the
coarser liners (example: from 32/12 to 16/12) with FINE valve
grinding compound available at an auto supply. This grease based past
e is applied to a wooden block and the gravers stropped lengthwise
until all the firescale has been removed. Final polish is done on
leather with Simichrome and/or 50,000 diamond paste. Liners from
14/12 on down to 6/6 for example ar e done on a separate wood block
with 12,000 diamond paste, and finished on the leather strop. The
reason for the wood block and leather strops is to fo rce the
abrasive up into the grooves between the teeth. NEVER try to polish
the teeth of a lined graver on a polishing lathe - you will roll
over and blunt the lines, making the graver useless.

My leather and cardboard strops are prepared with BOTH Simichrome or
stainless rouge and 50,000 diamond because I strop carbon steel as
well as the harder alloys like “Carbalt” on the same strop.
Simichrome will do fine on alloys up to high speed steel, but it
will do nothing to a carbide or “Carbalt” graver. I generally strop
and lubricate while engraving - about every 7th or 8th cut to remove
the “plating” or residue that builds up on the graver tip with
certain metals. Copper and aluminum are notorious for this."

  All rights reserved internationally. Copyright Brian P.
  Marshall. Users have permission to download the and
  share it as long as no money is made-no comercial use of this
  is allowed without permission in writing from Brian
  P. Marshall 

These methods work for me. As with anything else there are other
methods. Try em all! Post your results and preferences! If you have
further questions, post them too. I’ll try to get them answered a wee
bit quicker…

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
2207 Lucile Ave.
Stockton, CA 95207 USA
209-477-0550 Workshop/Studio