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Janel

Gravers

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Janel   

In the Scrapers topic, Robert Weinstock and Janel were beginning to discuss gravers:

 

JJ:

I am very short on knowing the vernacular for metal working tools. I can guess what a graver is, but would like to know for sure what it is and its intended use, and what do you mean "gravers with no heel", what is a heel? Do they have varying kinds of shapes, uses and attributes?

 

RW:

Gravers are a push type tool for cutting metal. I'll post some photos when I get some taken. They come in many shapes and sizes, and I make many of my own. Most engravers will talk about putting a heel on their gravers. It refers to the way the point is sharpened. My gravers have no heel. In other words, The bottom side of the tool is flat or staight to the point. Having a heel would mean that the bottom of the tool has a bevel sharpened on it. Not have a heel on my gravers forces me to angle the tool lower. A heel allows the engraver to hold his graver at a higher angle. I get around the angle problem with a tool that I rest my graver on and use it as a fulcrum (I'll send pictures). For me, it wouldn't be practical to sharpen a heel on every graver, because I have more than a hundred gravers in different shapes and sizes, and it would be impractical to sharpen a heel on them each time I sharpen them. An engraver might use a single tool for most of his work, so it's a little different.

 

JJ:

Have you made your gravers? What sort of metal do you use? Do you add handles?...

 

 

I hope to have more discussion and contributions from the carvers about this family of tools. If possible, please support your messages with images.

 

Thanks,

 

Janel

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I use a modified type of heel that is a sweeping curve instead of an angle. I can sharpen this without a jig just by eye. I know this is impossible for someone who doesn't know what the #*ll we're talking about to picture so I'll post a drawing and photo of the tool. It's going to have to be later though.

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Janel   

Hi Jim,

 

One of my main tools has two flat faces and one curved face. The image is a repeat from another message. The bottom left tool is the largest of that style, all the rest are smaller, to 1/8th inch diameter. The tip is not further beveled for strength, nor are the tips of the smaller ones. Of the smaller ones, one has an acute angle tip the other has a wider angle tip, and are used differently for undercutting and pushing to outline or cut grooves. The latter may be more like a graver when pushed, I would imagine.

 

toolsets.jpg

 

I look forward to seeing the image of your tool(s).

 

Janel

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I mostly use two general types of shaped gravers: 1) line engravers and 2) chisels that are either flat or curved. Within both of these categories there are a lot of varieties, and everyone will develop their own preferences.

 

For simplicity, starting out, I would recommend using hardened high-speed steel(HSS). This allows you to get a very hard and tough tool without having to learn heat-treating right out of the gate. I use either 3/32 or 1/8 round HSS drill rod(I'll mention sources Later). I use the round rod because it fits into my power handpiece well, or can be fit to a palm handle or mounted for use with a hammer.

 

First I'll show how I shape a round rod to make a line graver. I'm going to show this using a wood dowel as it will photograph better showing the planes without reflection. This is a general use shape and can be varied, especially to width depending on application. I do all this shaping without the use of jigs, which I always found cumbersome and slow, although I did use them at first and some will find them helpful, I'm sure. Doing most of my engraving in non-ferrous, my gravers stay sharp a long time.

This first shot shows the face angled at about 55 degrees(could be 45-60). Please feel free to jump in with any questions.

post-4-1107120782_thumb.jpg

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Next the sides are shaped to bring the bottom of the face to a point. This is where you have a lot of discretion, to make the face fit the function. The angle at the point can be very wide(45 degrees or even wider, or quite narrow. It depends on if you want to cut a wide , bold line or a thin shading type line. As always, form follows function. I've chosen to show a fairly narrow face which could be called an onglette. This step takes some care to retain symmetry side to side as you want the line on the bottom(behind the point) to go straight back behind the point, not to one side.

post-4-1107121724_thumb.jpg

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If I'm using hardened drill rod, it's too hard to hacksaw so I use thin cut-off wheels made by Dremel in my flex-shaft. It's not necessary to cut all the way through. I usually make a deep score all the way around then snap it off in a vise(wear goggles!). Clean up on the grinder. The major shaping can be done with whatever grinder you have available, could be a bench grinder or even mizzy wheels on the flex-shaft. I use rubberized abrasive in the flex-shaft to refine the shapes and put a nice finish on the tools. I usually only stone the face and wherever else the graver will make contact with the work. I can make a tool very quickly this way without having to spend a lot of time using a jig or stoning. The main thing is to have the geometry correct and a nice finish "where the rubber meets the road".

 

Speaking of geometry, next I'll show the heel that we were talking about earlier. In the photo above, you can see that on the bottom of the graver going back from the point is just a straight line. If you use the tool like this, it will be very difficult to maneuver as it will tend to just dig in and drag going around corners, and you will have to hold it at a very low angle to the work. Robert has a method I have never seen, but I'm intrigued to see. :D Anyway, if you look at the photo below you will see a sweeping curve behind the point. The general rule is, for me, the straighter the cut the less curve you need. Going around a tight radius, you need a more exagerated lift.

 

The heel that a lot of engravers use is a more complicated approach really requiring a jig, at least starting out and is more like putting facets on the bottom of the graver. this method I use is really easy and quick. Like anything it will take experience to see your needs and what it takes to get there. I learned this method from Leonard Francolini about 25 years ago.

post-4-1107126980_thumb.jpg

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Janel   

Ah-ha! Thanks Jim!

 

Where does one find the HSS hi speed stock? I have used the smooth end of high speed drill bits, is that the same kind of material?

 

(Again, my lack of knowledge about metals leaves me clueless... :D )

 

Janel

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I got a bunch years ago that I'm still working on from Latrobe Steel of Koncor Industries. I did a search and it looks like you should call and get a local dealer who will sell a small quantity.

603-329-0101

I'm going to look at some other possibilities. I think Don will also have some ideas when he's back.

The HSS drill bits are the same family although no doubt there are many different alloys. For our purposes, the most general duty type should work fine.

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Hi Everybody, I'll add my two bits for what it's worth. Everything Jim said is valid,and is probably the best way to go for someone with no experience. It also jives with what most engravers do, more or less. The cuved heel is intriguing. I've never seen that before. When I do work with a chissel, whether it's with a hammer, or with some form of reciprocating handpeice (I use a magnagraver, but it would apply to a Gravermax too), I grind a heel on my tool, but when I use hand gravers, as I said before, I don't use any heel. The difference is that I'm carving, not engraving. I carve to a much greater depth. I can still go around tight corners. I do pretty small scrolls with an englette. It just takes lots of practice. I'm not making the cut in one push. It takes several times over the same curve to get the depth I want. I'll show some more tricks soon. I use carbide for chissels in my handpeice. It stays sharp much longer than hss. For handmade gravers, I use lathe cut-off tool bits made of 5% cobalt hss. I get them from MSC. They are pricey, about $5 each, but they hold an edge, and last a long time.

A good way to see what different kinds of gravers look like, look at a catalogue like Gesswein jewelery supplies, or Otto Frei. They have lots of useful tools. I'll continue this later. Bob

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To continue my last post, here is a picture of a tool I use a lot. It's a type of fulcrum for my gravers. It works best with flat or round gravers, but not well with onglettes and knives. I hold the tool with my left hand, and rest the graveron it right behibd the tip. The graver rides on the ring, and enables me to get great control,and lots of power. I can scrape small amounts of metal, or large amounts depending on how much force I use. The ring is 1/8 inch drill rod, but you could use brazing rod, or even copper if you are concerned about marring your work. I use it frequently with a flat graver I have that's 1/4 inch wide to flatten out an area. It works well on large surfaces, but I've used it to great advantage on small areas as well.

post-22-1107272469_thumb.jpg

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Robert, that's an interesting approach using a fulcrum. Did you develop that on your own, or is it used historically too? How do you control the chisel/fulcrum if you're using a hammer to drive the chisel?

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Here's a graphic of three Japanese chisels with four views of each. You have a front view of each above and then top, bottom and side of each below. The side views show the same type of sweeping heal I use.

post-4-1107285318_thumb.jpg

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I've found an online source for hardened round stock for gravers.

Tool & Die .com

At the home page do a search for "hardened ground round" and click that same subject when it comes up in the search results. When you open the drop down menu for sizes you'll see 3/32 and

1/8 among others. I've used M2 but probably any of the alloys will be fine.

 

Also GRS sells graver stock in a variety of shapes. They only have rounds in carbide which I don't use as I find it tedious to sharpen and unnecessarily tough for cutting non-ferrous metals.GRS Tools.com

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Robert, that's an interesting approach using a fulcrum. Did you develop that on your own, or is it used historically too? How do you control the chisel/fulcrum if you're using a hammer to drive the chisel?

Hi Jim,

No, I didn't develope it on my own. I'm not that smart. I learned to cut dies (and carve and chase) from an old German master who studied in Fortzheim (Germany) just after WW1. He was way better than me. I think he learned it as an apprentice. There are lots of tricks I learned from him.

When I use a hammer and chisel, I don't use the ring tool. My chisels do have a heel. But I only use chisels for removing excess metal. I do all my detail work with push gravers, and only use the ring with them. Bob

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Here's a graphic of three Japanese chisels with four views of each. You have a front view of each above and then top, bottom and side of each below.  The side views show the same type of sweeping heal I use.

Hi Jim,

Those are interesting pictures. Did you learn that technique in Japan? I've never seen that style of sharpening. Did those pictures come from a book?

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An incidental tip:

 

I was just reading an account in my art conservation literature of a class of tools in bookbinding called 'finishing tools'. Broadly speaking, there are the tools with patterns on one end which are heated and then used in conjuction with gold leaf (or sometimes by themselves) to emboss designs on leather bindings.

 

Anyhow, the article describes the industry both in England and America from the late 18th century onwards in making these tools, and the tools used in making them. These include metal files and gravers.

 

Turns out that when you order gravers nowadays from jewelry tool supply houses, they come without handles to fit into the pad of your hand. An alternative to purchasing a handle, or turning your own, is to use Champagne corks: they're the right size and don't get slippery when your hand sweats.

 

Has anyone else heard of this?

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Years ago I bought all of the tools from the widow of an engraver who died in the fifties. I bought an engravers ball, books, samples and many gravers. Most of them had cork handles. I just looked at them and sure enough they were champagne corks. He was a full time engraver and quite good so the handles obviously worked very well. Thanks Doug.

Dick

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