Question: 1-Step versus 2-Step Re-sharpening Process

AllenClapp

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I am beginning to question something that I have always been taught, so I would like a reality check. There are two basic reasons for grinding on a graver; one is to reshape it after the point has broken off (or to another shape entirely) and the other is just to make the cutting edges sharper. For this discussion, I refer to re-sharpening only, not reshaping.
1. When re-sharpening a graver, I have always been taught to first hone the face and then hone the heels as desired.
2. Part of the issue is that we tend to want some gravers with wider (longer?) heels for doing straight line work and gravers with narrower heels (shorter?) for cutting tight curves.
3. Unfortunately, my engineering brain is asking why do we hone both the face and the heels when we re-sharpen? If the reason for re-sharpening is only that the point has dulled, it seems that we could EITHER hone the face OR hone the heels, because either would sharpen the cutting edge.
4. Every time we hone the face, we shorten the graver and reduce its life. We also reduce the width of the heels.
5. Every time we hone the heels, we make the heels wider (longer) than they were and make the size of the face a little smaller.
6. If we need to have, say, three heel widths at hand (Narrow, Medium and Wide), it seems to me that we could add serious life life to our gravers if we were to (a) ONLY hone the heels of the narrow or medium heel gravers, thus moving narrow heels to medium heels and medium to wide, and (b) ONLY hone the face of the wide heel gravers.
7. Honing the face of the wide heeled ones could bring them back to medium or narrow, as desired. If heels are sharpened too many times, the face size might become smaller than desired and require the face to be honed.
8. Does this make any sense? Could we extend the life of gravers significantly by only honing either the face or the heels if the tip isn't broken? Do you already do that, or do you normally hone both face and heels to re-sharpen?
 

papart1

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i do the face only...........it follows the heels to new edges anyway, but that's just me
 

pkroyer

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In my opinion, your logic is correct. I will leave it up to the gurus to let us know whether there would be a practical extending of the life of our gravers.
 

pmace

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I do both to maintain consistent geometry of the tool. If the cutting edge is "dull" it is presenting a blunt edge to the work. Honing the primary cutting face is, to me, the important step in that it is now flat. The sharpness, and most importantly the point, is developed by the heel. Skipping either one may work but it won't be consistent because the wear is different every time. Sharpening should only take a few thousandths off of the graver and it is, after all, a consumable item. What I hate more is when I break a tip and have to take 0.010" or 0.020"off of the graver to get it back.
 

monk

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i have a non answer: you wont likely live long enough to significantly reduce a graver to a too-short length. i assume that you're starting with a full length graver. even using the newer short blanks, you're actually be removing very little from the overall graver length. the majority of metal is removed narrowing the sides and top.this is done the first time you shape the graver. no need to do it after that. this facilitates less metal removal when touching up the face.no real reason to sharpen all that xtra metal when just tuchup on face or heels.
 

John B.

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Allen, a little over thinking IMO.
Who cares about a slight shortening of the graver length and it's life??
Gravers are readily available, not too costly, and like pencils and other tools, designed to be used up.
To correct a dull or broken graver just go with the flow.
Sharpen the face and then reestablish the heel to the desired width for the job at hand.
 

AllenClapp

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i have a non answer: you wont likely live long enough to significantly reduce a graver to a too-short length. i assume that you're starting with a full length graver. even using the newer short blanks, you're actually be removing very little from the overall graver length. the majority of metal is removed narrowing the sides and top.this is done the first time you shape the graver. no need to do it after that. this facilitates less metal removal when touching up the face.no real reason to sharpen all that xtra metal when just tuchup on face or heels.
Monk/ You are correct that I personally won't live long enough to have this process make any real difference. This whole discussion reminds me of when someone asked an awarded woodturner where he got his best wood. The answer was "from widows". When I go, it will be like Christmas for someone.
 

jerrywh

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I agree with John B. Too much thinking. I want my gravers to have a certain geometry and do whatever it takes to obtain that shape.
There is a old theory that says you should have a long heel to engrave a straight line. I don't know where this came from but in my opinion it's totally wrong. I use different face angles and heel angles but it's because of the different properties of the steel brass or silver I'm working on.
 

pkroyer

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This whole discussion reminds me of when someone asked an awarded woodturner where he got his best wood. The answer was "from widows". When I go, it will be like Christmas for someone.
A widow recently donated a lot of her husband's woodturning tools and wood to the Kansas City Woodturners Club. As I made my purchase, I told the treasurer of the club that in effect, I was just renting the tools for a while before they went back to the club to be sold again.
 

Big-Un

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A widow recently donated a lot of her husband's woodturning tools and wood to the Kansas City Woodturners Club. As I made my purchase, I told the treasurer of the club that in effect, I was just renting the tools for a while before they went back to the club to be sold again.
This brought up a thought from the past into the present; should I donate my entire collection of tools, books etc. to FEGA upon my passing? Then maybe someone could benefit from them. All this hinges on if my grand-daughter, an accomplished artist even at a young age, will be interested in learning engraving. I'm planning on introducing her to the medium very soon to find out, but she lives over 500 miles from me.
 

AllenClapp

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I think that I didn't fully explain what started this question in my mind. It seems that a lot of us don't like to interrupt our engraving to fix a broken or dull graver. As a result, we keep a batch of gravers with a shape that we use a lot, so that we can lay the bad one down, pick up a sharp one, and keep on engraving. I like to have several of each heel length available and keep them separated. In the past, I have been recreating a batch of whatever I ran out of first. Then I wondered if I am not taking a lot more time sharpening than necessary if I always hone both the face and the heels back to original length. Why not hone just the heels on the shorter-heeled ones and just the face on the longer-heeled ones, letting the groups move through the progression of heel widths as needed? It seems like it might be a good time saver. I agree that the material cost isn't all that bad, but wasted time is. I thank you all for taking the time to respond.
 

Sam

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What John B. said. You are definitely overthinking the graver sharpening process.

Here's my process, FWIW: To resharpen a dull or broken graver, I sharpen the face on 600 past the break so it comes to a keen edge and sharp point. Then 4 swipes across a 1200 grit lap on each side of the heel which makes my heels about 1/4mm in size or the thickness of a printed line on a ruler. Then back to work.

I don't have different heel sizes for straight lines and curves. One size fits all with the exception of micro lettering that requires a microscopic heel, but that's rare. I'm not saying you shouldn't have different sizes for straight lines, just saying it's not something I do or see any benefit to.
 

monk

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the very feature about engraving that i like--- i don't have to think about anything whilst engraving. a nice state of mind. lookin at that little line, and the world goes away.
 

flintdoubles

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I agree with monk when engraving my whole world is the field of view in my scope all the crap going on in the world disappears. I look at gravers as being the cheapest part of this. Think how much money can be made with a 16 dollar graver well that and a lifetime of dedication
 

flintdoubles

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So Sam your face angle is done with a 600 and just the heels with 1200? I have been using 1200 for both that may save me some time. Thanks
 

Mike Cirelli

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I think of gravers as a painter would think of their brushes. Each graver differs for the job you want it to do. To scrimp just to save some graver length doesn't make sense to me. Also, I think most engravers would not sacrifice the quality of their work just to make a graver last longer.
 

BrianPowley

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Whether you hone the face or just the heels, you are still removing "something".
Eventually, the graver won't be at a useable length and will be discarded.
As John and Sam alludes to...gravers are relatively inexpensive when you consider how much money you get in return from their use.
 

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