Stone setting


I hope everyone is well.

I’m planning on starting stone setting, I have done a few designs by hand and have concluded I’m ready for the ease of pneumatics.
I was wondering if anyone has used any of the cheaper alternatives to the GRS graver and how they found them or if they have any alternatives ? And is there any that have maybe self contained compressors or is this an additional expense ?

Thanks so much


the Pulsegraver does not require a compressor…i have not used it…there are videoes of it being used…



when looking at compressors, look at the decibel noise level / rating when comparing.


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I have an Air Do X. It’s not much cheaper than the lower GRS systems, but it is also a micromotor so I found the double tool expense to be easily justifiable.

Learn how to make the setting first, then learn how to set cabs and faceted stones by hand. There is a lot going on in both operations that can influence the other. This includes rolling thin bezels, hammer setting thicker bezels and all the ways that you might hand set faceted stones.Once you figure out how to do this by hand, you might want to look at a pneumatic or electric tool and how it might make the process of setting stones easier for you. Once you have learned how to do it by hand, you will know what part of the process these tools are replacing. These tools serve many other purposes besides stone setting, don’t cheap out on them. My two cents…Rob


I’m curious why you don’t learn with hand push tools first?


also, graver sharpening tools are important too…

search the forum for graver sharpening, sharpening gravers, grs powerhone, edenta diamond wheels…


Stonesetting means a lot of different things. Prong setting, channel setting, graver setting, flush setting and much more. Not all forms of setting are helped with pneumatics like a Graver Max etc.

What kind of settings are you thinking about and how are you envisioning pneumatics helping you? That’s the question I would ask.

If you’re going to do graver setting, the pneumatic power engravers are often a little too powerful for beginners. What others are saying is probably true, that it’s probably best to learn that style of setting with regular hand held gravers.

I own an original version (very old) Graver Max. I used to use it a lot not just for engraving but also for hammer setting. These days I hardly ever engrave and I’ve evolved to using a hammer and punch and a flex shaft hammer handpiece for hammer setting instead of my Graver Max. I’m not sure why? It just seems easier for some reason. I also bought a micro-motor, which I love. It’s so smooth!

My point is that it depends on what you want to accomplish and that there are probably non-pneumatic alternatives that are less expensive.

The Foredom SR flex shaft is probably the most popular one, but I bought a Foredom LX flex shaft to pair with my hammer handpiece, because it requires lower speeds. I’ve got say I love my LX flex shaft! I use it for everything. I like that it moves slower, but has more power. I find it easier to control. I still have my SR, but I hardly ever use it and almost alway grab the LX. (They both hang next to each other)

I don’t know if it’s ever possible for you to go to a jewelry trade show, like MJSA, JCK (or there’s lots of regional ones). Then you can try out every tool you’d ever want to and be able to ask any question you have to the experts. Or if you’re in driving distance to a jewelry tool company, you can often accomplish the same thing by going to their show room.

Let us know more specifically of what you’d like to do.




Re: the noise level of the compressor, that is why I have an old style piston compressor. They are nearly silent, you just hear the electric motor running and the piston going up and down…and they are cheap and available everywhere used. The oil-less compressors are also quiet, but they do not last as long as those that have oil to lube the pistons. To keep the old style compressor going the longest, you really should change the oil once in a while, but most people don’t do that and the compressor still operates for a long time, because unlike a car piston, there’s no fuel in the cylinders, so very few contaminants. Change the air filter once in a while. If the compressor doesn’t run 24/7, only a few hours a day, the yearly cost would be a few dollars, bcs it would last 10 or 20 years.

As you probably know, those vibrator compressors are cheap, but make an obnoxious, loud noise.

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California Air Compressor sells some very quiet, non-lubricated, air compressors. I bought one specifically for my engraving bench as the old trust Dewalt was just too noisy. A lubricated compressor does last a long time, especially if you actually change the oil once in a while. The problem is that the oil gets into the air stream and may not be good for whatever you are operating it with. There are downstream devices to get rid of the oil and any water that is carried by the air stream, but they too have to be maintained. It becomes a toss up of money vs utility. You also need to worry about capacity. Check the minimum SCFM or CFM at a given pressure and make sure that the compressor you buy will delivery it. Give yourself a little more room unless you want the compressor running constantly. Then you have to worry about its service factor and how long it can run continuously without a break. My first California Air Compressor had just the capacity that I needed to run my engraver, but when I added an air turbine, it ran constantly while I was using the turbine. I returned the compressor for the next bigger, quieter model. There is a lot more going on with an air compressor than meets the eye. I spent 13 years teaching people how to install, run and maintain them and they still found new and better ways to break them…Rob



In my humble opinion, the most important thing about engraving/ stone setting with gravers…is learning about the various graver profiles, and learning how to properly shape them, provide clearance, and polish the faces so that the cutting edge angle, face angles, and heel angles cut the metal the way you want them to….safely…they should cut the metal “like butter” and leave a mirror finish behind that requires no further polishing…an improperly sharpened or dull graver can make you want to push harder and cause slipping and loss of graver control, which can lead to injury…

i started out sharpening my gravers with an India stone…i was having a problem with the tips of my round gravers continually breaking off in the metal, when i was raising beads…then i read in my Oppi Untracht book that i needed to follow with the use a finer stone to avoid this problem…so i added the use of a black arkansas and surgical black arkansas stone to my sharpening protocol…

i also learned that using a steeper 60 degree face angle (over a 40 degree face angle) would provide a stronger edge when trying to moving more metal…

i also learned that heel length and heel angle plays an important role in how the graver moves forward…incorrect heels can cause the graver to dive into the metal, or skip…

i also learned that right and left angled faces facilitate the cutting of curved lines…

i also learned that grinding out “clearance cuts” on the graver, behind the face, allows for easier access without the graver belly hitting the metal…

i could never master the fine art of graver sharpening, and eventually bought a grs powerhone, all the diamond discs, ceramic disc, and diamond spray, and the angle fixture…money well spent…and i definitely cannot say that for all the tools i have bought over the years​:rofl::joy:

then, fast forward, when i learned of the Edenta diamond wheels for the flexshaft/ micromotor…which you can use to shape, polish, refine gravers and get a Really high mirror finish on the gravers

a good selection of burs is very helpful…round, cylinder, hart, 90 degree setting burs…will do alot of the same functions of gravers when stone setting…like removing metal between stones, cutting down metal on the sides of stones, cutting relief cuts, and cutting stone seats…bur control is an important skill to master…

for bezel setting, you can use a hammer and punch, a dremel engraving handpiece with a modified tip, a hammer handpiece, or an air assist engraving machine…

i highly recommend the Lucas lowboy rheostat footpedal for exceptional speed control on a flexshaft, especially on the low end…or getting a micromotor…

where gravers are really needed is for bright cutting…bead and bright, raising beads, bright cutting fishtail settings and castle setting, bright cutting around bezels/ channel setting, bright cutting prongs, splitting beads, etc…

a slim burnisher can be used to less effect for brightening up bezels, gypsy setting, channel settings, prongs, etc…

a fine sawblade can be used in some applications

a hand held graver can be used…

and then…the conversation will inevitably and of neccessity move on to the conversation of holding fixtures…my current favorite topic!…ring clamps…thermoplastics/ shellav/ adhesives/ tape…pieces of wood/ steel…chopsticks…nails…vises… ball vises…benchmate ring clamp systems…

just my personal thoughts…the topic is vast!!!



We have one of those California Air Compressors at my job. A co-worker recommended it. I’m amazed by how quiet it is for not being a true “silent” air compressor.


Jeff…It works for me. Thanks…Rob

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I have an SR & a hammer handpiece - I didn’t know about the LX until this minute. I’m curious, what difference would I find using the handpiece on the LX? Thanks, Sue

A hammer piece needs to run at less than 5,000 RPMs or it will get damaged. The LX has more torque at low speed than the SR. I run my hammer pieces on a 45 year old dual speed motor that I rebuilt a couple years ago.

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How does one know what the RPMs are? My foredom just has the foot pedal. I did notice the hammer handpiece works better with less pressure but I have no idea what the speed is.

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Good question, I don’t know other than to use a speed control. My old motor won’t go over 5,000 rpm. Faster doesn’t make it work better and it will actually wreck a hammer piece. I know, I keep one that I wrecked in a case as a reminder. Someone else may have an idea how to know how fast you are running. You might look at hammer setting. You don’t have to worry about the speed, just how hard you are hitting the setting punch. Good luck…Rob

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Your flex shaft should say what the max rpm’s are on the motor. If you use your SR with a hammer hand piece, don’t go faster than 1/4 speed. That’s a guesstimate, but I think will be fine.


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my Badeco hammer handpiece has an adjustment “ring/ sleeve” on the handpiece that allows for adjustment…of how “hard” it hits…(my non-technical description)…


I just double checked. the SR goes 18,000 max rpm. So only making the motor go 1/4 speed was a good guesstimate to work with a hammer hand piece without breaking ithe hand piece.

One reason the LX works best with a hammer hand piece is that it takes discipline to make an SR or TX go slow. With the LX you can focus just on hammering.

It may not be worth it for you to buy another flex shaft. That’s a lot of money. Just don’t go fast with the hammer connected.

Hope that helps!


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