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Transfer Wax?


Would any engravers reading this be so kind as to tell me what
"transfer wax" is, and how it is used. TIA, Jim.


There used to be commercially made transfer wax for engravers, but
I’m not sure if it’s available any more. GRS used to sell it but
removed it from their catalog because they could no longer get it, so
I’m not sure what the status is.

It’s relatively easy to make, though. I make my own using equal
amounts of beeswax and mutton tallow. You can find mutton tallow at
some health food stores or order it from the web (search Altavista).

The old way of using transfer wax was to rub it into the engraving
cuts with your finger and wipe off the excess on the surface of the
metal. The moisten a thick piece of paper (like a 3x5 index card),
position it over the engraving, then burnish down into the engraving
which picks up the wax. Now position the paper over the next article
to be engraved and burnish lightly to make a faint, waxy outline of
your previous engraving.

I don’t like the above method because it’s difficult to position the
paper in just the right location. Instead, I use clear tape and lift
a design from one article and then transfer it to another by
burnishing, etc. It’s much easier because you can see thru the tape
for precise positioning. With the right tape and a bit of practice,
you can do absolutely perfect transfers with this method. The down
side is that it’s very difficult to see on satin finished metal. On
brightly polished metal it makes a great transfer, though. Oh, and
you can also mirror designs by putting two pieces of tape together and
pulling them apart.

Sam Alfano
Exhibition Grade Hand Engraving


Hi Sam,

Have you ever tried substituting chalk (white or colored) or
pencil lead for the transfer wax? I’ve used pencil lead & scotch
tape to successfully transfer incised items to a new surface.


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Dave: Yes, I used to use those methods, but now I use transfer
wax exclusively. For my applications it works better than any
other method I’ve tried. Get a roll of Moore Crystal Clear tape
from a drafting supply or artist supply and give my method a try.
I’ve tried all other brands/types of tapes, and there’s nothing
like Moore Crystal Clear. Its glue is just perfect for doing
precision transfers and it’ll dazzle you when you try it.


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