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What is your choice of wax tool for lettering?


I was wondering if anyone could please share their technique or tool
of choice for carving letters in wax. In regards to the wax tool of
choice, do most people use a picker? A scraper? A scribe? I have
different wax tools but being self taught, I have never actually seen
the carving of letters demonstrated. I have figured out how to carve
shapes and designs, but with letters being rather small and detailed,
I cannot picture how this should be done.

I would greatly appreciate any advice on this or a link to a photo
or video of this being done.

I would think that perhaps you don’t use wax tools at all and
actually use engraving tools so they have the sharp angles and are
small for details?

Rick in Cocoa Beach


Carving lettering accurately by hand in wax is painstaking to say
the least. Pantograph devices were used in mold making for accurately
shrinking designs for coining dies, class rings, and other jewelry
just for this reason. With the advent of CadCAM, even more detail can
be produced.

If this is not a commercial enterprise for you then:

Kate Wolf has developed two sets of carving tools based upon her
career as a model maker and wax carving teacher. I have both sets
and use favorites among them to clean up my wax carvings, including
the shavings sometimes left by the milling machine tools around


Hi Rick - I use a hand made tool. Get a sewing needle and snip off
the top half, discard bottom. Then insert it into a pin vise that is
comfortable for your hands. Sharpen it into a broach so that it has
about five sides so that it cuts in all directions no matter how you
drag it through the wax. Of cours laying out the letters and numbers
first is key.

Margie Mersky


Gravers are the best tools for small details in wax or metal. You
want to keep a few on hand in common shapes and learn to sharpen

For your best lettering, engrave it after the piece is cast. The
lines will be much sharper than if cut in the wax. If you cast in
lettering the finishing processes will round over the edges of the

A pitfall of engraving a cast piece is that if there is porosity in
the casting the engraving may uncover a pit. So check for porosity
very carefully and fill any pits. You may even have to fill newly
found porosity after the engraving is done and then have the fills

Elliot Nesterman