Sharpening gravers

Is it possible to use the Japanese style water stones to sharpen
gravers? I have yet to sharpen/use one, but am soon going to cut my
teeth. I want to bright cut big fat bezels. I know from my
woodworking experience they produced a beautiful mirror edge on
Japanese style laminated chisels. Must be a reason why Arkansas
style stones seems to benthe standard. Thanks.

Is it possible to use the Japanese style water stones to sharpen

It is possible, of course, but it would not be good for the stones.
Japanese stones are softer, i. e., they abrade more quickly, than
Arkansas stones. So the tips of the gravers will likely wear unhappy
grooves into Japanese stones in a short time.

FWIW, most of the setters I’ve known sharpen their gravers on white
hard Arkansas stones and polish the bright cut face on artificial
ruby stones, but black surgical Arkansas stones should do as well.

Elliot Nesterman

Hi Saboiam,

Yes you can, but no, you don’t want to.

Water stones are very soft. The very narrow widths of an engraver
will wear grooves into them in almost no time at all, which will
cause you all sorts of trouble with edge geometry, and things
getting out of flat. (why do you think the woodworkers get so
obsessive about the diamond flat plates to keep grinding the
waterstones flat?)

Arkansas stones are harder, and don’t wear as easily, so you’ll have
less trouble with wearing grooves into them. You still will put
grooves in, but it’ll take years instead of days.


I use the Jura’s Swiss Ceragloss 25mm blue medium diamond polishing
wheel, then the Ceragloss yellow fine diamond polishing wheel if I
want a true mirror surface, especially for bright cutting. They’re
not cheap ($42 each), but they do last a very long time. When one
side has been depleted, just turn it over. The Ceragloss blue is
especially good for sharpening scribes and center punches.

Jeff Herman

Saboian- Properly setting up, shaping and polishing a graver can
make your work so much easier. Just remember that the heel or the
bottom of your graver should be just as polished as the cutting edge.
No matter how sharp and polished your cutting edge is, the heel drags
along behind it. Like cutting with a scalpel and then dragging a
rusty nail behind it.

I just finished setting up and polishing and shaping 1/2 dozen
gravers for my next setting class. I start my students out with a 42
flat. I find that the blades when fresh from the factory have some
pretty deep grooves in them. For what they cost you’d think that
they’d come with a finer finish.

It takes me a longer time to get the heels perfectly polished out
than it does to attach them to the handles, shorten to my hand,
shape, polish and sharpen.

I use two sharpening blocks. One is two sided with a coarse side and
a finer side. I then go to an Arkansas stone and then crocus paper
taped down on a flat surface. I then punch the tip of the freshly
polished graver into my wooden bench pin to take any burr off the
cutting edge.

For polishing the heel I use successively finer emery then arkansas
stone then crocus paper. I do this after shaping and shortening and
before I start sharpening.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Jeffrey- Thanks for the info. Do you use these on a polishing lathe
or a flex shaft? -Jo Haemer

Hah. I figured there had to be a reason the stones bad not been
adopted for gravers. and I figured there had to be a reason for me
NOT being the genius to think of it.

Thanks all for your comments. like the ground hog, gotta get out of
the hole and see the sun at times!!!
Arkansas here I come!

I use Spyderco ceramic whet stones for sharpening my gravers in
medium and fine grits; All Products - Spyderco, Inc.

and I polish the cutting face of flat gravers using fine polishing
paper on a steel block. Here in the UK flat gravers are called
scorpers, I use carbon steel Glardon Vallorbe scorpers which I grind
to a suitable length to fit my hand size and shape the cutting point
to suit the job, then I re harden and temper the cutting end before
use. The attachment is a photo sheet that shows how I prepare my

James Miller FIPG

Hello Jo,

Do you use these on a polishing lathe or a flex shaft?

They’re flexshaft-size. I also use them to sharpen small drill bits.

Jeff Herman