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Author Topic: Engraving Crash Course  (Read 4545 times)

Offline D.Ellis

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Engraving Crash Course
« on: May 14, 2014, 11:03:00 PM »
A few guys on here expressed interest in trying the hammer and chisel style of engraving. I will attempt to give a very basic demo of how I do it and the tools involved. There is more to learn than can be covered in a quick online tutorial, and I am just a beginner at this challenging craft, so I'll barely be able to scratch the surface(HAR HAR!    :D    ) of the topic.

Let's start with the tools. There are 3 basic shapes of cutting tool that I use. These are the flat, the square(or 90*) and the round. I have the flats in several widths depending on how small an area I need to fit the graver into. Also the round obviously makes a different groove depending on diameter.......the square cuts a 90* v groove, with the width of the cut increasing with the depth of the cut.
   

The sharpening angle of the cutting face varies depending on the material you are cutting. The harder the material, the steeper(blunter) the angle for strength.
In addition to the angle of the face, all these chisels have a small heel on the bottom of the cutting edge. Without enough heel the cutter will dive too deep in the metal, too much heel causes drag around corners and will not allow a clean cut. In this pic of the bottom of the flat, you can see the heel as a bright line across the tip.
   
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2014, 11:14:00 PM »
The bottom of the square cutter has a parallel heel like this. I couldn't get a good pic so found one elsewhere.

 

I use handles for the gravers that are made of steel, either my own, or these ones from Ngraver........known as Belgian style.

 

Notice the hammer in the pic. This is an 8 oz ball peen. Most folks use a lightweight engraving hammer, which has a wide curved face, I use the side of the hammer head in a similar manner.
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2014, 11:22:00 PM »
I am probably forgetting lots of stuff, but let's cut a few lines and see how it goes. The graver heel should allow the tool to cut a nice groove without diving. You control the depth of the cut by lowering or raising the handle of the chisel. You don't want to swing the hammer like you are trying to drive a 10 inch spike into a log. It is light quick taps.
 

Here's a pic of the square graver cutting a line. You can see the chip being cut out ahead of the tool.
   
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2014, 11:50:00 PM »
Here's one of the round graver. Something to keep in mind, when you are cutting, and trying to follow a line, you want to pay attention to the line ahead of the cutting tool. Just before the chip rolls up in front of the tool, you will see the metal bulging up, concentrate on keeping this on track. Like riding a bike, you don't look at the front tire, but the area just ahead of you.

   

Here's a pic of a few practice cuts. The 3 on the upper left side were all cut with the square cutter. The top one, the cutter was held straight. The middle one shows the cut if you raise and lower the handle of the tool, and the lower one shows a cut with the tool rocking side to side. All these types of cuts will be used depending on the effect you want.

 
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2014, 12:03:00 AM »
A pair of these really helps to see what you are cutting......
 

OK, lets do some carving. I'll start with a very basic drawing in the steel. I wanted to practice straight lines, since they are harder than curved ones, but this design has a bit of both.

 

I'll use the square graver and go over the outline lightly.....if you try to cut too deep all at once, you end up with the tool diving, or the tip breaking off. And the harder the metal you are cutting, the shallower you have to make the cuts. Deep cut engraving usually takes several passes over the same cuts.

 

I thought this was a good pic to show what happens when you are cutting into another line. In this case, the outline was cut, but I tried to cut the other lines at the same depth or deeper than the line I was approaching. The chips would have let go if that outline was cut deeper.
 
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2014, 12:14:00 AM »
Now I have it all outlined, I'll go over the lines again to make them deeper. The colored in bits will be removed and become the background, so I want to cut them deep.
 

After that, I need to remove the background. I use the round nose graver for this because it is more rugged than the other cutters, so I can dig deeper, faster, but it leaves the background all crisscrossed with grooves.

 

So the flat chisel gets used to smooth up the background. The goal is to have the background evenly carved to the same depth, with the sidewalls nice and clean. Will alternate between the flat and the square graver to get this as close as possible. I didn't do to well, I'm way out of practice   :(  

 
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2014, 12:22:00 AM »
I then use a beading tool to texture the background.

   

After this, I usually go over it with 1500 grit wet dry to remove any rough edges or micro burs that the cutter left. Sometimes I use a rotary wire brush to give it a brushed finish. Here's this piece with a ruler to show scale......along with another practice piece I am working on......a buck 110. Brass is actually harder to engrave nicely than steel. It wants to chip and crumble, but cuts with much less effort, you need to have a light touch with the hammer.

   
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2014, 12:27:00 AM »
A couple of other examples of my work from when I was more practiced up.

 

 


Darcy   :campfire:
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Offline srtben

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2014, 12:46:00 AM »
Dang Darcy! That is some crazy skill sir!
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Offline gudspelr

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2014, 05:14:00 AM »
That's......awesome.... This is one of those things I find intimidating (which gravers, the sharpening of them, proper heels, etc.). But I love seeing some nice engraving on knives. Thank you very much for sharing this.


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Offline Lin Rhea

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2014, 06:43:00 AM »
I really like this tutorial! Great !!!!

I think this should be pinned to the top! Please.
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Offline kbaknife

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2014, 09:11:00 AM »
That is fantastic!
Great read and nicely detailed.
Thanks for this.
Yes - pin please.
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Offline Doug Campbell

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2014, 09:21:00 AM »
Oh man, gotta agree, it's pinned. You are a man of many talents Darcy.    :notworthy:
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Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2014, 12:13:00 PM »
Thanks guys, Like I said, I am a beginner at the engraving craft. If anyone has any questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
Darcy   :campfire:
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Offline Alexander13

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2014, 12:45:00 PM »
I just finished reading your tutorial, it's awesome!! You have a lot of talent!

Thank you so much for taking the time, you've made it very clear and easy to understand!

Joel

Offline D.Ellis

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2014, 11:42:00 PM »
While I am thinking about it, I just wanted to add a bit of additional info about hammer weight and cutting power.
The mass of the hammer makes it easier to cut deeper, but it also makes it easier to break the tip off the graver. If you find the graver tips blunting often, you are hitting too hard. It is common to want to hit harder to cut faster, but this is not correct.

To cut a line faster, you tap the chisel faster........more taps per minute.

If you need to cut deeper, you can hit a little harder(and raise the chisel handle at the same time) but too deep in one pass, and the tip will break off again. How deep you can cut in one pass will depend mostly on the hardness of the material you are cutting. For example, copper can be deep cut in one pass with little trouble, but hardened blade steel will require a very light touch, and several passes to get to the same depth.

A very light hammer will give you more margin for error. Since you can't hit as hard with it, you'll be less likely to overpower the chisel point. In theory, you could cut fine with a 3 pound hammer, but your level of control would need to be somewhere between, "wizard" and "ninja" level   :D  

If I seem to be going on about the chisel point breaking, it's because with a broken point, you will never be able to cut a clean line. It does not take much of a chip off the point to cause trouble.....sometimes you can't even see the problem without some magnification, but if it seems like the tool was cutting great, and then all of a sudden just will not work the same, look to the tip first, it's probably chipped off.

To sum this installment up, sharp tools, light, fast taps with a light hammer, will get things done........that and a whole lot of practice.   :thumbsup:  
Darcy   :campfire:
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Offline just_a_hunter

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2014, 01:01:00 AM »
Awesome post.

I appreciate your time, buddy.

Todd
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Offline Roughcountry

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2014, 11:33:00 PM »
Thanks very much Sir. This is great, you explain this all very well.
Great job on the single shot.

Offline Slickhead

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2014, 06:51:00 PM »
dang that elk on the rifle is the bomb!
Slickhead

Offline ChuckC

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Re: Engraving Crash Course
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2014, 02:54:00 PM »
Can't believe I missed this.  I have been reading stuff all over the web trying to learn this hobby.  I decided this is my next jump into different types of art work.

I will have tons of questions if you don't mind. . .
Chuckc

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