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Question about making gravers


#1

Hi,

I recently read the posting by Master Surpin regarding using a
graver to even out the hole left by the conical bur for setting a
faceted gem.

I therefore dug out the book one of you had sent me in the past
year, “The Art Of Engraving”, by James B. Meek, which I had been
reading on and off during evenings when the winter had been leaving
me stone cold bored.

Since I want to make a few gravers for setting, I went to Chapter 2,
“Materials.”.

I do have plenty of leftover files the author recommends using as
raw stock, and I obtained a bench grinder last year for my 49th
birthday present.

My question is in two parts, and is to the engravers who use this
book as a reference:

On pages 29 through 31, there are several pictures of the different
types of gravers with edges, etc.

  1. The drawings are reasonably small. Are they intended as plans for
    actual size gravers? If so, they seem doable. If not, I can scan and
    then scale the image using GIMP to make a plan drawing. By what
    factor should I then scale?

  2. Which gravers should I focus on making for stone setting
    purposes?

Gratefully in advance,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2
Which gravers should I focus on making for stone setting purposes? 

I am sure others with provide meaningful info as to the graver
types. I want to suggest that you consider buying, rather than
making. You do not need high speed gravers. Carbon steel like Muller
are very nice. The only problem is that they are finished quite
terribly and require a lot of polishing before they are of any use.
They also have to be annealed properly. Factory annealing simply
sucks. Bury them in quartz sand and put it in 400 Fahrenheit oven
for several hours and allow to cool inside the oven overnight. They
will be dark yellow after the treatment, but do not worry. The color
is not indicative in this case. They have to be brought to mirror
finish before use, and they will cut softly and effortlessly.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#3

I buy Glensteel blanks from GRS tools and use their PowerHone system
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1p4

GlenSteel is special high-speed tool steel made exclusively by GRS
for tough engraving and stone setting. It won’t break or chip like
other tools and is easier to grind and sharpen than other high-speed
steels. Size: 0.093" (2.35mm) square X 2.7" (70mm).

Unlike GRS Carbide gravers, all GRS Glensteel gravers are free of
cobalt binders and do not carry any of the related health risks. GRS
designed these Glensteel gravers with this in mind.

In seconds, you can sharpen gravers and tools WITHOUT HEAT with the
GRS Diamond Power Hone. It gives a sharper, stronger tool edge that
makes brighter cuts, cleaner lines and scrolls, more precise beads
and, finer shading. Beginners learn proper sharpening in minutes
discovering that these accurately sharpened tools are easier to use.

Professionals can save an hour each day because the Diamond Power
Hone is fast, accurate and produces longer lasting tool edges. GRS
Power Hone uses diamond wheels to sharpen hardened steels, high
speed steels and carbides. You can now choose the best tool material
for each job because you can sharpen them all.

The wheels last for years and stay flat for accuracy. Different
grits are available from coarse to mirror polishing. With its heavy
steel housing, continuous-duty motor and double-bearing spindle, the
GRS Diamond Power Hone is a sharpener you can depend on for years.
And, you’ll find it remarkably easy to use.

Videotaped, step-by-step instructions are available with tips even
experts will appreciate. Available in 115 Volt, 60 Hz, 1.3 Amp or
230 Volt, 50 Hz, 0.7 Amp.

Included with Power Hone Complete: 1. Power Hone 2. Sharpening
Fixture (see product details) 3. Quick Wheel Change Adapter 4. 260
and 600 Diamond Wheels 5. Ceramic Lap 6. 1/2 Micron Diamond Spray 7.
Wheel Storage Rack


#4
I buy Glensteel blanks from GRS tools and use their PowerHone
system 

It may be a good choice for someone who is super busy and it cost
him too much time-wise to sharpen on regular stone, but it is an
overkill for someone who is just learning. When I started learning
about gravers the cost of entry was less than $50. It was a few years
ago, so now it probably around couple of hundred. But what you are
suggesting is over a thousand expense which many beginners simply
cannot afford and even if some can, it would be stupid to do so.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#5

I don’t know if this would be appropriate for gravers, but metal
suppliers and/or “good” hardware stores, have drill rod and often
have it is air tempering as well as water/oil tempering alloys.
easily workable and easily tempered when completed. Not a lot of $
for 3-4 feet and of VERY high quality. Just a thought…

John Dach


#6

Andrew:

I agree with Leonid on this one: nevermind the fancy grinding
machine, it’s more than you need right now.

(and I have one. Love it, but I do this a lot.) (Somewhere north of
$750. You can buy a lot of carbon gravers for that.)

Don’t waste your time trying to hand grind and temper your own
gravers. Carbon steel gravers are cheap, and are actually better to
learn on anyway.

(They should be around $10 ea, plus handles. Not worth your time to
try to fake it.)

The carbon steel ones wear faster, but that won’t be an issue for
you when you’re learning. The bigger thing is that they sharpen much
more easily than HSS or carbide, which will be a big issue as
you’re learning to sharpen. When you get too acute, and the tip snaps
off, it takes much less time to polish your way back to a sharp point
with a carbon steel graver than it would with an HSS graver.

Don’t ask what angles to sharpen to: most of the hand sharpener
types don’t know. What they do know is that if they sharpen it to
this angle, the tip snaps off, but if they back off just a little,
it doesn’t. So, you want the edges as acute as you can get them
before they fail. The built-in feedback system of hand sharpening is
that if the tip snaps off, your inbuilt tendency to focus on
polishing out that great huge snapped nose will automatically cause
you to reduce the angle for the next try. Eventually, you’ll get to
the point where the edge gets dull before it snaps off. Keep using
that angle.

The reason I say not to make your own is that you don’t know what
shapes you want, or how they should cut. So in addition to trying to
learn one of the most technical techniques out there, you’ll be
trying to do it with tools that may (or may not) be right. This can
only end in swearing, blood and fire.

Once you know what you want, and how it should work, then you can
make your own, but I really, really wouldn’t suggest it for a
beginner.

Shapes? depends on what you want to do. I can never remember the
sizing conventions (as in which numbers mean what in which country.)
but middle of the road sizes would be fine for beginning. Get a
round, flat, knife and ongilette (point or spitstick) Oh, and a
lozenge for letter engraving. Should run to a little north of $50 or
so. (Contact some of the tool houses to see if they have any used
gravers. Gravers are one of those things that seem to always float
around in the backs of drawers and boxes. There are always used
gravers floating around. Could probably be had cheaply that way
too.)

As far as polishing them goes, (polishing the sides) yes, they come
with crappy grind marks on them. If you’re doing bright cuts, you
care. In learning? Not enough to worry about until you get better.
Leonid was right, in that the tempering on the older Eastern European
tools tended to be spotty. The modern ones are pretty consistently
good. Not worth fussing with baking them in the oven for modern
tools. (especially HSS & carbide: won’t do a thing to those.)

FWIW
Brian


#7
It may be a good choice for someone who is super busy and it cost
him too much time-wise to sharpen on regular stone, but it is an
overkill for someone who is just learning. When I started learning
about gravers the cost of entry was less than $50. It was a few
years ago, so now it probably around couple of hundred. But what
you are suggesting is over a thousand expense which many beginners
simply cannot afford and even if some can, it would be stupid to do
so. 

Not so much for the gravers used in stone setting, especially
onglettes and round shapes, but for sharpening gravers for decorative
traditional engraving or lettering, the usual diamond, square, or
wider angled point gravers, Steve Lindsay’s sharpening system is much
less expensive than the GRS system. It’s also less versatile, since
it’s intended to use a template that generates pretty much one shape
of graver per template, of which there are a number from which to
choose. So you cannot just generate your own slight variant of a
graver shape. You CAN slightly modify the face and belly angles, if
you wish a steeper belly or the like, but in general, each template
does one design of point. However, within that limitation, the system
works very very well. Initial preparation of a new graver can take a
bit of time, since it’s hand powered grinding, but his diamond hones
work reasonably fast. And once prepared, it’s very quick to resharpen
a graver if the point dulls or gets damaged, etc. Because you don’t
have to reset angles (or remember which ones you used) each template
does the same thing every time, and the result is I can resharpen one
of these in a fraction of the time that I can do it on the GRS power
hone (which I also have, and use) Both these systems are ideally
suited to working with the square graver stock, like the Gensteel, or
carbide, or Steve Lindsay’s similar versions.

I’d agree with Leonid that in the end, any beginner wishing to get
decent results will have to learn to actually sharpen a graver
properly, and understand why they are shaped as they are, and what
changes to angles will do, etc. But for beginners, who’ll quickly
learn just how nicely a properly shaped graver can work as compared
to one not properly shaped, or pros in a hurry, I can recommend the
Lindsay sharpening system highly, for those graver shapes he’s got
templates for. And in the end, with a bit of adaptation, most of what
you’d want is there, with perhaps the notable exception of those like
Onglettes, where the sides of the graver have a curve. And the bottom
line of cost, with Steve Lindsay’s system, is much less money than
the GRS. Still a bit more than simply learning to sharpen a graver on
a traditional sharpening stone of course, but I don’t regret buying
Lindsay’s system at all. My power hone, however, doesn’t seem to get
all that much use considering what it cost…

Peter Rowe.


#8
It may be a good choice for someone who is super busy and it cost
him too much time-wise to sharpen on regular stone, but it is an
overkill for someone who is just learning. When I started learning
about gravers the cost of entry was less than $50. It was a few
years ago, so now it probably around couple of hundred. But what
you are suggesting is over a thousand expense which many beginners
simply cannot afford and even if some can, it would be stupid to do
so. 

You may be correct. But as I said, this is how I do it. And I bought
these tools before I learned to use a graver because I was never
keen on the prospect of jamming a sharp piece of metal into my
knuckle. It never made sense that I should waste my time learning
techniques that had been improved upon by those who went before me.
If that’s the proper way to learn jewelry making, is this the proper
way to learn to start and drive an automobile?

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1p9


#9
Don't waste your time trying to hand grind and temper your own
gravers. Carbon steel gravers are cheap, and are actually better
to learn on anyway. 

Just to reinforce what Brian and others have said. There are those
who want to make everything themselves, and I’m guilty of that at
times too. Making gravers is just plain foolish unless you just want
limited things.

I just looked at Otto Frei, just now, and all of the Muller
Onglettes are $5.95, and the handles range from $1.20 to $2.50. Yes,
you need to spend an hour making it into a useable tool, but that’s
better than wasting 6 hours grinding down drill rod into an onglette
shape with any precision and THEN spending another hour turning it
into a useable tool.

The use of gravers includes all manner of things besides
"engraving". They are most useful tools. But it’s all about skill in
this case, the tools are cheap. Even the very best tools don’t cost
much.


#10

If you want to make your own gravers and want a source of HSS then I
suggest you utilise your broken or worn needle files. You need a fine
silicon carbide wheel to shape them on as these will wear less then
alumina and you can water cool them to boot. Good enough for
starters.

Nick Royall