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Selecting power assisted hand engravers


#1

Hi, I am new at this, but here goes. I am pretty much a self taught
metalsmith and jewelry designer; at the present I am interested in
expanding my skills by doing some engraving. I am interested in
purchasing a power assisted hand engraver, either the GRS GraverMach
AT or the Foredom PowerGraver 2293. I would appreciate some opinions
from experienced engravers as to which one I should get. Thank you
in advance for your advise.


#2

Who told you that you need a power engraving system in order to
expand your skills?

The best way to learn how to engrave is to sit down and feel how a
engraver bites in the metal driven by your hand.

It is realy remarkable that one can engrave well only when he/she is
the owner of a power engraver. If you don’t know the basics of the
different way’s how to handle, sharpen and using your tools, you will
never learn proper engraving… to my opinion. Yes, it is cool when
you can show and talk about having a GRS or whatever system but it
makes you not a better engraver. Learn first how to use your balance
befor you start walking. One of the best engravers of my country
engraves very remarkable work ONLY with a few tools and more then 60
years of experience and knowledge. Being over 70 years he still
completes excellent work… without a power systems.

So, my contribution to this subject is reduced to nothing because I
believe in basic craftmenship! However and by all means, one can
deliver explicit engraving work with a power system but not without
experience and knowledge!

Enjoy and have fun.
Pedro


#3

Marie,

I have the GRS GraverMach. I highly recommend it over the Powergraver
and here is why. The GraverMach can be tuned so that when one steps
on the pedal it starts impacting and when one lets off the pedal, it
stops impacting. What that means is that one can engrave a line and
then engrave an intersecting line very precisely without the worry of
"extra impacts" causing me to engrave beyond the line I just desire
to intersect.

With a hammer handpiece attached to a flexshaft one has to get used
to the fact that the tool starts impacting when one presses on the
pedal however it is not sufficient impacting to engrave with until
the flexshaft gets “up to speed”, so to speak. With the GraverMach
set to your desired impact rate (800 to 4000 Strokes per minute) just
press on the peddle and the tool starts impacting at that rate.

I am very happy with that level of control particularly when I am,
for example, bezel setting an emerald.

I have used a hammer attached to a Flexshaft however, I feel that
having to wait for the tool to “get up” to my desired impact rate is
just a little of a pain, if not outright dangerous, depending on what
I am working on.

There’s my two cents…


#4

Hi Marie; I have the GRS GraverMach and really like it. Lots of
accessories and the tech support it great.

Take care, Paul Le May, Bracebridge, Ontario. Canada


#5

Pedro…

Are you trying to start a tool war?

The original poster only asked for advice when buying a “power
system” and didn’t say that you “need” one in order to engrave.

Pedro, have you tried working with a “power system”? Which one then?
Judging from your post it just seems that you simply dislike the
tool. You have misunderstood several things.

I don’t believe anyone think they will become a better engraver just
because the have a “power system”. Lots of practice will make you
better.

You seem to imagine(?) there’s no “craftmanship” involved in
engraving with “power tools” as if the tool would cut scrolls for
example by itself.

No matter what tool you use the first thing is to learn all about
different graver geometries and of course how to sharpen them. Take
your time and do it properly. There are modern tools that help you
grind perfect, dead flat surfaces every time. The sharper tools, the
better they cut. That’s not a bad thing.

Pedro, you said:

The best way to learn how to engrave is to sit down and feel how a
engraver bites in the metal driven by your hand. " 

Same thing when you work with a “power system”. Sit down, take your
time, don’t rush it. Learn how to control the tool and see how it
bites the metal.

The tool doesn’t hammer its way forward like some people imagine. It
only does what you tell it to, you’re guiding the tool. You will
deliver perfect results after many years of practice no matter the
type of tool, hand graver or “power graver”. Patience and lots of
practice. I agree with you on one point Enjoy and have fun

Per


#6

Here is another option you may like to check out. It has been said
that these tools are quite expensive but all in all when you do the
sums they stack up very well.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/mn

Good luck and have fun.
Roger


#7
Are you trying to start a tool war? 

This battle has been fought over and over again. All Pedro did is
expressed his very reasoned, and well justified opinion. Why is that
when someone points to the fact that engraving with power gravers is
deficient in many ways compared to well executed hand engraving, a
hordes of power engraver users hurl accusation of starting wars and
etc… You like your power engraver, so use it. Nobody tells you not
too.

Pedro was simply trying to show the proper way of becoming a real
engraver. I whole heartedly join him in that.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#8
No matter what tool you use the first thing is to learn all about
different graver geometries and of course how to sharpen them.
Take your time and do it properly. There are modern tools that help
you grind perfect, dead flat surfaces every time. The sharper
tools, the better they cut. That's not a bad thing. 

I think you get a better sense of the importance of sharp tools if
you start out pushing by hand. A powered engraving system will
happily cut with just about anything if you press hard enough and
give it enough juice. It doesn’t care if the tip broke off twenty
minutes ago, for it a sloppy jagged trough is just as pleasing as an
elegant tapered line. Working with just your hand and the same
chipped graver, you’d be slipping and sliding all over the piece.
Dull to your hand is a long ways off from dull to a little air
powered piston.

To the original question though, I’ve played with both the nGraver
and Foredom flex shaft engraving systems, and for what they are,
they’re pretty incredible. I went into it expecting something more
like a toy than a tool, but darn it all if they weren’t really
freaking neat.

They aren’t on the same level as the air powered stuff you can get
from GRS though. Not the same power, not the same adjustability, not
the same control. But not the same price, either.

In all honesty I’d save my money for an air powered system, that way
you won’t have out grown it in a couple of years. But if you’re
needing more power, and you need it absolutely right this second, and
you only have 400 bucks to spend, the flex shaft kits are slick
little weasels for light duty occasional use.

Look into Steve Lindsay’s airgraver too. I haven’t had the pleasure
of personally using one just yet, but from what I’ve heard they are
elegance incarnate.


#9
The tool doesn't hammer its way forward like some people imagine.
It only does what you tell it to, you're guiding the tool. You will
deliver perfect results after many years of practice no matter the
type of tool, hand graver or "power graver". 

The best thing about power engravers is that you can stop before
jabbing the graver into your knuckle.


#10
The best thing about power engravers is that you can stop before
jabbing the graver into your knuckle. 

The best thing about hand engraving is that you learn not to do it at
all.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#11

Perhaps it’s my brain injury, but in all the years I have been a
jeweler engraving with both power assist and by hand,

(I have the quick-change handpiece for the GraverMach that allows me
to change my graver from power assist to a handle that allows me to
use the graver by hand, and often do, depending on the task at hand)

I have yet to completely illiminate the occasional “overshot” of
my cut, thus requiring a band-aid and a touch of neosporin.

I find this occurs statistically MUCH less, using the GraverMach and
power assist.

Of course I have learned to keep my tools sharp. It doesn’t matter
whether you have power assist or not. If the tools is not kept
sharp, it will skate across any surface it is applied to. I also have
yet to lower my standards and use assistance while engraving to
"plow" my merry old way along because I have spent the money so I
should just be able to 'plow" my little old way along…

Keith Hible


#12
The best thing about power engravers is that you can stop before
jabbing the graver into your knuckle. 

Well said Paf :slight_smile: But pain is a very good teacher. Pain is a
short-cut if it can be observed, analysed, and overcomed!

Alastair


#13

I think what Pedro was saying is analogous to this:

Learn how to use a hand saw before using a skill saw.

This is my own take: Tools don’t make a craftsman; great tools just
make a craftsman’s work easier.

steve


#14

Hello All,

Whether power assisted (mostly required for steel/hard metals,
silver and gold are soft and easy to engrave by hand) or engraving by
hand it is important to learn ‘how’ to engrave correctly. The
Engraving Master Series videos produced by Master Engraver Heinar
Tamme (now deceased) provide a complete foundation for learning how
to engrave. Mr. Tamme was a full time professional engraver for over
50 years, he was European apprentice trained (Sweden & Finland) and
later spent most of his engraving career in the U.S. engraving both
the Miss America and Orange Bowl trophies for over 25 years as well
as a Papal Ring for Pope John Paul II and many other notable
commissions.

His videos( now on dvd) provide the only complete course of video
engraving instruction - in the world - covering the gamut from tool
preparation and sharpening through advanced projects, including tips
and techniques acquired from decades of engraving experience. Much
more about these videos and Mr. Tamme is found at:
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/r0.

These instructional videos are now available on the Rio Grande
website, and will be included in their 2012 catalog.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/rioengravingdvd

Disclaimer: I purchased the rights to Mr. Tamme’s videos, at his
request, many years ago. I had found out about them through the
Orchid Archives, contacted Mr. Tamme who had retired and no longer
sold the videos anymore. He was kind enough to find a set he had not
sold and sold them to me. Using his videos, my engraving improved
more in the first three to six months than in the previous two years
trying to learn from various books. I was so enthused about the
excellent instruction found in the videos that Mr. Tamme suggested I
purchase the rights to the series from him and market them myself. I
did, reformatted the video tapes to dvd and set up a website, to
offer the videos for sale to anyone interested in learning the art
of hand engraving. Mentioned above, the videos are now sold through
the Rio Grande website,

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/rioengravingdvd

Joe Bloyd, Bloomington, Indiana where we have beautiful summer weather!


#15

Tools don’t make jewelry. People do.

BK in BWA


#16

Hi Keith,

I think the point a lot of people want to make, is that a tool is
exactly that… a “tool”.

It doesn’t matter if the tool is powered or not, computer controlled
or not, the skill of the operator makes the difference.

I like using a powered flexishaft, drilling holes without a power
tool takes longer and produces the same results.

If you can use a powered graver to cut time without quality loss,
why wouldn’t you use the powered tools. The only reason to make your
life harder would be for academic purposes, doing a re-enactment of
old methods for a demonstration.

Regards Charles A.


#17
Well said Paf :) But pain is a very good teacher. Pain is a
short-cut if it can be observed, analysed, and overcomed! 

Buying one of those fancy ball-vises and a microscope, and a Power
Hone (to keep things really sharp) made a huge difference too. Gone
are the days of using that cool wooden holder with the wooden wedge
against my benchpin!


#18
Tools don't make jewelry. People do. 

Tools make jewelers happy.


#19

Marie,

While following this thread, I was once again inspired to visit one
of my engraving forums at http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/mc

This site is run by Steve Lindsay. You can network with forum members
in your area so you can see a Lindsay AirGraver or PalmControl in
action. The AirGraver is in the same class of tools as the
GraverMach. Thought you might be interested in watching some of the
videos, There are 11 Hours worth of them available to be viewed for
free at:

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/rg

I am humbled when I look at the power assisted engraving there.
HOURS of loving, painstaking craftsmanship.

Everyone has to have someone to inspire assimilation!

Keith Hible


#20
If you can use a powered graver to cut time without quality loss,
why wouldn't you use the powered tools. The only reason to make
your life harder would be for academic purposes, doing a
re-enactment of old methods for a demonstration. 

One of the philosophers of antiquity ( don’t remember who ) said
that “truth shall be born of arguments”. I think it was Plato. So
here we are, arguing, presumably looking for truth. If that is what
we are doing, than the search must be done in the right way, or the
truth will never be found.

What is the right way, one may ask. The answer is avoiding logical
fallacies, or the wrong conclusions will be reached.

In this argument about hand engraving versus and engraving by
motorized tool, the false assumption is made that both methods
produce the same result. They are not ! This fallacy stems from
fundamental misunderstanding of what engraving is.

It is assumed that using graver in any capacity automatically
qualifies as engraving. That is fallacy #2. Usage of tool, does not
make on one a member the group of specialist using the same tool. For
example: I have a surgical scalpel on my bench. Does it mean that I
am a surgeon? Of course not. But somehow, it is assumed that if one
uses graver to remove extraneous metal, such act qualifies him/her as
an engraver. The truth is - it is not.

The fallacy #3 is that while is acknowledged there is a difference
in the results, it is so small that nobody would care. This is over
generalization. Some people would care a great deal. And some people
would pay a great deal for that difference. When we discussing hand
engraving, the connoisseurship cannot be discounted.

The fallacy #4 is the luddite label gets attached to proponents of
hand engraving. This is double fallacy. Preference for traditional
technique does not make one a luddite. The second part is that been a
luddite does not make one automatically wrong. It appears that
luddites were right about some things, or how one can explain growing
popularity of organic farming, green movement, and etc…

I am sure that argument will go on, but let’s try to stay way for
from logical pitfalls.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com