Glossary of Engraving Part 1 - Terms and tooling
Click to view Glossary 2 (Bulino / inlay's / relief, backgrounds / lettering / books)
Click to view Glossary 3 (design, software / hardware / imaging / drawing)
ENGRAVING (COMMERCIAL) - The process in which an item is decorated by
means of metal removal in small amounts by milling machine, rotary hand held units,
laser.... not to be confused with hand engraving, hammer and chisel or
pneumatic pulse hammer engraving. Commercial engraving will never have the character,
quality or variable
free form versatility which is characteristic of hand engraving, nor will it have prestige or
ENGRAVING (HAMMER AND CHISEL) - This method is perhaps the
oldest and most implemented of techniques and is the traditional method which one is
taught. Basically it involves a light weighted small faced hammer and a slightly longer engraving
chisel than a hand pushed graver. The principal is simplistic in nature and simply involves lightly
tapping the chisel to achieve forward motion while removing a small amount of material. The tighter the taps
are the smoother the cuts will be. The skill involved far surpasses the simplicity of the principal.
ENGRAVING (PUSH GRAVER) - This method is more difficult than
chisel as it involves applying considerable forward pressure to the graver before the cutting motion is to occur.
Only a very skilled engraver has the necessary control to not slip, skidding across the
surface damaging the surrounding areas.
The above statement is based on a straight line being cut and not for curved cuts.
For curved cuts such as with scrolls, circular, semi curved or similar cuts, the work should actually be fed into
the graver and the graver is kept stationary without forward pressure. In this manner the engraved line
will be produced cleaner and with less stress onto the graver's tip. Overall results are less tool tip breakage during
curved cuts, considerably less fatigue on the hand and wrist and far less slippage.
The Push graver technique produces the cleanest,
smoothest cutting of all the techniques and is perhaps the most used in the jewelry
trades since the base materials being engraved are generally soft metals such as gold, silver....
Some engraver's will work steel using this technique however it should be noted that
for any real bulk metal removal such as with relief or broad deep cutting this
will not fair as well as hammer and chisel or pneumatic pulse hammer.
Nevertheless it has its benefits in learning as Bulino line engraving employs the exact
same method and all engraver's will benefit greatly in being well versed with
all the techniques as there is a place and time to employ them all.
ENGRAVING (PNEUMATIC HAMMERS) -
One of the best things that could have ever happened to engraving is the
pneumatic pulse hammer, with various available models meeting various needs and cost.
These wonderful units replace the traditional hammer and provide the engraver with a
fully controllable / adjustable air driven impact tool. Basically the graver is inserted into
the handpiece which contains a small air driven piston activated by a
foot controller or other means depending on model and will impact upon the graver much as a traditional hammer does
but does so at many times the normal striking rate. The pneumatic hammer will pulse at many hundreds of strikes per
minute with some capable of many thousandth's of strikes per minute as compared to the rate of a traditional hand held hammer and chisel.
Pneumatic engraving units have assisted many new engraver's to more easily learn
engraving. With the assistance of these units new engraver's learn at a much
faster rate and produce far better results largely due to the ease of operation and precision that these products provide. The
overall design radically improves cutting so much so that skilled engraver's notice an immediate improvement in their
work. Personally I have never heard of anyone ever going back to the traditional hammer after experiencing these air
driven tools. They also free up one of the engraver's hands allowing for better control in
manipulating the the work since the engraver no longer needs to hold the chisel and a hammer separately. Some things are worth Change!
Pneumatic impact AirGravers by Steve Lindsay
The Lindsay Chasing AirGravers Review #1
are ultra sensitive pneumatic impact Hand Engraving tools for Engraver's, Jewlers & Artists.
Designed & made by Engraving Artist Steve Lindsay. These Air Gravers are precision
instruments, created for unsurpassed hand engraving and impact control.
The Air Gravers are the smallest hand engraving impact tools on the market, ideally suited for fine exhibition grade engraving.
The tools are similar in size and feel to traditional non powered hand gravers.
Traditional palm push graver size / Impacts per minute adjustable from 3,000 to 31,200
adjustable length of stroke as well as idle setting's / Stainless construction / Walnut handle baring a Lindsay
banknote style engraved inset / Hardened piston / Accepts gravers with shanks fitting .133"
dia tool hole (3/32" square graver size) / rapid change for quick graver removal with locking feature / Adjustable air ports.
Preface - Comments & Evaluation:
Every once and a while engraver's are fortunate enough to come across a
product that enriches their natural skills as artists, we may consider ourselves fortunate that one of
America's finest Engraving Artists Mr. Steve Lindsay has produced his AirGraver line of engraving tools.
When it comes to finesse and fine detailing, control becomes and absolute must and by definition any tool exceeding current standards in precision must ultimately translate to improved engravings.
Visit airgraver.com for a complete overview on these tools.
AirGraver review by EngravingArts:
The Classic bridges the gap between the Chasing AirGraver and the Omega
AirGraver. The Omega is the 3rd model in the set of three gravers, designed for heavy
impact cutting (not displayed here.) See the Lindsay airgraver.com for concise specifications on these AirGravers including Omega.
The Classic is truly a marvel, virtually the same size as the Chasing graver and is packed with not only the same onboard
features in quality construction, elegance in design as well as a wide latitude of adjustable settings, but also delivers an
impressive amount of power for such a compact traditional sized hand piece.
I personally own all three gravers - Chasing, Classic and Omega.
I also own GRS Gravermeister and have used Gravermax as well as other power engraving hand tools.
The gravers I have selected for all my work ranging from the finest 24k gold detailing in
bulino line engraving and banknote style through to wide deep cutting are the Lindsay gravers.
The Classic has proven to be a very diverse all around tool catering to virtually all engraving needs.
It certainly has the ability to produce delicate fine detailed work and is by no means a slouch when it comes to digging in
deep and baring its teeth. Its adjustable air ports are absolutely incredible, this holds true for both models displayed,
the Omega comes supplied with a second piston instead.
Adjusting the air ports requires little effort, nothing more than a twist of the outer black ring is needed.
In essesnce this feature allows the user to variably restrict the escaping air flow from the graver ports.
This offers the ability to quickly change impact power from a deep heavy cut to a much slower and gentler controlled cut with less overall power delivery, ideal for shading or when tight cleanup work is required.
The engraver now has the option to quickly change from a basic cutting style to fine detailing on the fly and do it all
from the hand tool end of things rather than leaving their work in order to make adjustments elsewhere.
I have engraved rifles, knives, jewelry with all of these Lindsay gravers and I can honestly say that the Classic is
fabulous tool. For the extra fine detailed work I still prefer the Lindsay Chasing AirGraver as it caters perfectly to my more
delicate engravings, but make no mistake I have engraved complete rifles start to finish with this tool as well.
The Classic is exactly what I needed as my next step up when more impact delivery was required without loss in quality.
I use the Omega when little else will do other than a mini jack hammer, it's sure to please those who require
an extra bang to get through very tough metals as well as when deep, wide bright cuts are required.
Comfort level of the these tools is simply incredible! I've owned and operated several other
pneumatic / rotary type tools and there is a good reason why I have discarded those in favor of the Lindsay line.
Please don't misunderstand the discarded comment as meaning that other similar tools are not good tools, that is simply not the case and would be far from the truth. Nevertheless I have set others aside in favor of the AirGraver line as my tools of choice.
Several of the tools I've owned and used prior to the Lindsay tools have been very good and have carried me through many years
of engraving. However I really find these new gravers fabulous as they offer me a host of options and control more so then
all others I've used. I suppose what I really like about these new tools is that they are very versatile and allow me to feel
as though they will adapt to all different forms of work that I may grow to produce in the years to come. There's a comfort
level knowing that the artist will not out grow his tools and that the tools what ever they may be, in the end must cater to the
artist and not the other way around. Tools must feel natural in an artists hands, the less aware you are of the tool
the less likely you'll tire and the more likely you'll work longer periods producing better engravings.
I've gained far more control, less fatigue, less tool tip breakage and cleaner quality results with the least amount of effort
from these AirGravers then from any others I've used.
For those of you with a limited budget I recommend the Classic graver as it will meet virtually all engraving needs,
short of extreme heavy impacts. For ultra fine detailing and control that is unsurpassed I recommend the
Chasing AirGraver. I believe it be the ultimate engraving tool that has the ability to engrave the finest hair line cuts.
With this tool you can literally graze the surface of any metal so delicately that it's hard to see by naked eye.
When detailing 24K gold or the finest of bulino style shading is required I've yet to find a matching tool to this one as it offers the sensitivity
needed that only my free hand can produce and with only a few minor adjustments have it deliver enough power to engrave
high detail full coverage rifles or knives.
For those professional hand engraver's, Jeweler's or other relative artists who wish to have their cake and eat it to,
I suggest owning both the above. The omega should be purchased by those needing heavy power in a
small quality package. Take note that the Omega though initially designed with serious impact delivery in mind
still incorporates clean brilliant cutting and control, after all what good is a tool delivering power at the expense of clean
If you're satisfied with one of the above three gravers and can afford yet another I truly believe you'll find owning the Chasing
AirGraver and the Classic AirGraver as the best combination of pneumatic tools on the market.
I consider myself fortunate having the luxury of owning all three.
A very special thanks to Steve Lindsay for sharing his tools with the world.
Click here for a Concise Review of the Lindsay AirGraver Tools
Click here for a Concise Review of the Lindsay Ultimate AirGraver.
Click to Visit lindsayengraving.com
Reviews by Adone T. Pozzobon EngravingArts
GRAVER - Typically a small hand held hardened steel
shaft fitted into a wooden handle with a face and heel sharpened to very
specific angles producing a "v" cut into a the metals surface. Though there
are many different shapes and sizes of engraving tools which produce a
variety of different cuts the "v" cut or square graver is perhaps the one most
persuasively used by most engraver's. The graver may be driven forward by
hand pressure, hammer impact or power assisted impact hammer. The heel
angles elevate the tool off the surface allowing clearance for the hand, also
to prevent the tool from digging into the metal to rapidly or deeply. Face
angles and heel angles vary from engraver to engraver and from technique to
technique. The harder the material the greater the face angel required in order to
strengthen the otherwise brittle tool tip. Average angles for typical steels
being engraved would be approx. 15 to 25 degrees for bottom heels and 45 to
55 for the face angles. These may vary depending on techniques used and
curvature of the object. Concave areas generally demand greater heel angels
in order to elevate the tool from the surface. The heel size should be kept relatively small
in order to avoid dragging and marring of the surrounding metal when cutting
curves. A 1/64" heel length or less will minimize drag and produce a cleaner engraving.
Small face sizes will allow for more control and better visibility of the tool
tip especially when dealing with fine detailed work. Each engraver finds their
own specific tool design and tool angels to best meet their work habits.
The most common standard for holding
items to be engraved is the 'Ball vise'.
It is a heavy spherical machined or cast fixture which
generally weighs between 20 and 40 pounds depending on its overall size.
On the top half of the ball are mounted 2 jaws with either a single or dual
swivel plate depending on the manufacturer.
The top plates are perforatted to allow a variety of pin devices to be
added in order to hold a wide number of irregular shaped items.
The entire top half of the ball including jaws, ride on a bearing system
which allows for 360 degree rotations in either direction.
The complete vice rests on a hollowed pad or rubber ring allowing the ball to
be positioned to a variety of angles thus allowing the work to be held accordingly
The traditional standard holding fixture is nothing more than a typical bench top vice
unsuitable for most engraving purposes, such vices do not allow for
angling of the work or rotation of the work and solely rely on continual re-clamping and repositioning within the jaws.
Engraver's vices come in several styles, sizes serving several types of applications, therefore it is best to purchase
from an engraving supply house where one is able to compare and speak with a representative that will advise them of their needs.
For those engraver's that do not need expensive custom setups a ball vice is the best choice.
MAGNIFICATION / MICROSCOPES
Magnification is crucial in order to produce top grade engravings that are precise and clean.
Available options are 'hand held lenses' generally used by traditional european engravers for Bulino work,
Optivisor used extensively by Jewelers and gun-smiths and finally the Cadillac of
magnification the 'Microscope'. The problem with hand held lenses
is that the visual area is very small as magnification increases and is not suitable for
all general engraving. Optivisors are low in cost and suitable for average work where high definition
is not required, they also come with a variety of interchangeable lenses (sold separately)
however magnification is low and non adjustable and the rule of thumb is that the higher the magnification power
the shorter the work distance becomes. The 'Microscope' is the most effective and versatile visual aid available.
With the correct microscope the quality of work changes virtually over night, however I do stress
selecting the right scope as the most important issues are 'working distance from the bottom objective
lens needed for hand and tool clearance', 'Field of view of at least 2" or more', 'Lens clarity and
Magnification range is very important and a scope with stock lenses generally ranges from 3.5 x to 22.5 x
this is an excellent range and will cover pretty much all needs' Additional lenses are available for both
bottom objective lens and eye piece lenses. By swapping lenses a whole host of working
distances and magnification levels can be achieved. Lens distortion is low with this microscope but a small amount does exist.
Work distance to objective lens is 6" with stock lenses.
Before making a purchase it pays to shop around as some scopes on the market offer superb clarity but the cost is a major factor and it may
be wise to purchase a used better grade scope than a new one of lesser quality.
Click to Continue to Glossary 2 (Bulino, inlay's, relief, backgrounds, lettering)
Click to view Glossary 3 (design, software / hardware / imaging / drawing)