Thursday, November 18, 2010

Make Your Own Engraving Tools

Yesterday we discussed how to engrave sterling silver, gold, copper and other metals. Today, as promised, we  exlore how to make your own engraving tools, also called "gravers."

Different Shaped Gravers
While there a lot of great commercially made gravers, there are good reasons to make your own. Making your own graver allows to you to form exactly the style graver tip you need for your engraving project. Making your own graver is also a great way to upcycle. You can use old wrenches, old screw driver tips and broken or dull drill bits to make your own gravers.

Select the Metal
Use tool grade steel to make your graver. Different tools lend themselves to making different types of graver tips. Old screwdriver tips are best for creating flat or knife shaped graver tips. Old wrenches are a good choice for creating onglette, square and round shaped graver tips. Old, broken or dull drill bits are also well suited for creating round graver tips. Small drill bits are a good choice for creating very fine tipped gravers.

Cut the Metal
Cut wrench to create graver
Cut a piece of high-quality tool grade steel. The size of the steel will depend on the size and shape graver you want to create. For most graver you will want to cut a piece of steel that is about three inches long and 1/4 by 1/4 width and depth.

Form the Tip
Create the tip of the graver. Use a grinding wheel or flex shaft to shape the tip of the metal graver to the shape your want. Quench the tip often in water from time to time as you work.

Sharpen the Tip; Remove Scratches
Place a sharpening stone on a smooth flat surface. Lightly oil the stone. Clamp the metal. Rub the tip against the stone to sharpen the graver tip. Repeat using a finer grit stone. Continue using increasingly finer stones until all scratches are gone from the graver tip.

Remove Burrs
Remove burrs from the graver tip, if any, by jamming the graver tip into a block of hardwood.

Sand and Polish
Tape a piece of fine grit sandpaper to your worktable or other flat surface. Polish the graver by rubbing the graver tip against the sandpaper. Polish the graver until the surface has a mirror finish.

Add a Handle
Test the graver. A sharp graver will have a "bite" when rubbed against your fingernail. If the graver slips rather than bites, then it is not properly sharpened.

Add a Handle
Slide the completed graver into a handle for easier use.

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