Beginner - making my own tools

Pleurotus

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Greetings and salutations!
I come to y'all as more or less an absolute beginner. I have some metalworking experience (MIG welding, knife making, etc) but no engraving. I figured I'd dip my toe in by making myself basic hand gravers (spoiler: its not working out great so far).

[Lest anyone think of suggesting I purchase some tools before attempting to make them: A. I'm unemployed and cannot afford too B. I'm as interested in being able to make my own tools as being able to use them]

I've started with an onglette as it seems the simplest and I have some 1/4" music wire.

I annealed a 6" length of the music wire with a MAPS gas torch then shaped the end to this:

IMG_20190104_231617.jpg

Now I'm guessing I've already made a mistake at this point. Should I have kept the side rounded instead of flattening them?

Proceeding from there I heated the tool up to non-magnetic with the same torch and quenched it in canola oil. Then after removing the fire scale I very carefully torch tempered the tool to light straw.

I decided to test the tool out on some scrap mild steel (most of what I'm making at the moment are knives so being able to engrave those would be great) and it worked for maybe 3cm before I managed to roll the tip.

IMG_20190105_114018.jpg

I'm unsure how to proceed from here as I am not certain if the fault is in the A. geometry of the tool, B. my heat treating process or C. my engraving technique.

A. Geometry
As foreshadowed above should I have kept the sides rounded? In flattening them have I removed too much supporting material from around the tip?

I have checked the face angle and it is very close to 45 degrees. Maybe closer to 47 degrees.

The highest grit stone I've currently got is that 1500 in the background of the first picture. Was my tip maybe no sharp enough? I could glue down some higher grit wet sand paper and buff after if its gotta be really well polished.

B. Heat treat
A MAPS gas torch isn't exactly ideal but its what I currently have on hand. I was really only managing to anneal/harden/temper to first half inch of the wire. I do have access to a forge and could uniformly heat treat the entire length of the tool. I presume this would be best practice but probably not the source of my tip rolling issue?

C. Engraving technique
Honestly I was sort of just going for it. Feeling for an angle that would catch and push a burr. Would using an inappropriate angle have caused the tip to roll?

I'm just using a little ball peen hammer as I don't have an actual engravers (chasing?) hammer.

As for the engraving I was able to do before tip failure this is what I got:
IMG_20190105_114715.jpg


Feedback is very much appreciated. I've had trouble finding clear and accessible resources on engraving. I know there are some killer books out there but my library doesn't have them and they are expensive. I have found some helpful youtube videos out there but most of them don't seem concerned with making the tools (or at least trouble shooting them when they break).

I have more music wire and can start over if those sides really do need to be rounded instead of flat. Can my onglette 1.0 be salvage and maybe just used for softer materials.
 

topolina

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#3
I’m sorry, I failed to ask what steel type you’re using. Is it hardenable? Not all of them are. O1 tool steel (oil hardening) is easy to work with and you can get a hardness of rhr 55 or so.
 

Pleurotus

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Greetings, I also just joined... the geometry might be the problem. The thickness at the point is so much smaller, our usual heat treat- quench- anneal process could be giving different results on the small cross section compared to the larger body of your onglette. When I’ve made flatware from O1 the hardness results vary from heavy to thin cross sections because they reach different temperatures. If resources allow, perhaps try the heat treat cycle on a .250” square with the basic relief on it, then sharpen the cutting point?
Where do you live? My company is hiring :)
I imagine you're correct in that is goes geometry being the primary problem followed by it heat treating unevenly. I'm sure if I etched it there would be visible differential hardening. Sadly I have no etching solutions on hand. It certainly cut easier after I annealed it and passed a file test after quenching.

What kind of steel is a very good question. I was just assuming that it is harden-able as there seem to be other folks who make these tools out of music wire. I was mostly going off of this fellow's example. Thinking about it I have no idea how consistent "music wire" as a category is.

The company that makes the music wire is K&S precision metals and looking at their material specs it is ASTM A228 (C 0.7-1.0% Mn -0.2-0.6%) a phosphate coated carbon steel with a Rockwell hardness of C41-60.
Unfortunately finding a spec sheet that includes heat treat information is proving difficult. Pretty much everything that some up just talks about annealing not heat treating. I don't know if that means you can't anneal and re-harden it or its just not commonly done.
The main reason I went with the music wire was that it is easier for me to get hold of than O1. There is a place in town that has a much wider selection of metals but its a PITA to get to.

I'm up in Canada so sadly I don't think that's an option :p Thanks though.
 

John B.

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#8
A small triangular file will make a starting graver.
And drive it with a piece of hardwood or a small rawhide mallet to soften the blows.
You can make a chasing hammer out of hex head or large carriage bolt.
Your first cut didn't look too bad, good start. Keep going.
Best of luck on your engraving journey.
 

Pleurotus

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@ topolina - Hmm that is unfortunate. I may try making a second one out of the same stuff anyway. Practice is practice so its not a complete loss if adjusting the geometry does help.

Since you mentioned twist drills I actually attempted to make a little wood chisel out of the shank of a mastercraft HSS drill bit. One of the titanium nitride coat cheapies. My roommate had been using it for who knows what and got it all rusted up. After a vinegar soak and some scrubbing I tried more or less the same thing I did with the music wire only I couldn't get it to harden (file still cut it no problem). Most HSS twist drills are M2? Or so the internet suggests.
Is there a trick to hardening it? Looking at a spec sheet it suggests oil quenching down to 900F/482C then allowing it to air cool. So just dip it ever so briefly and then leave it out?
Or should I just be grinding the things down and trying to preserve the temper? (Probably would have been easier)

As for acquiring other tool steels I can probably afford to purchase some tool steel. I just have to make the journey out to the metal supplier.

@John B. - A triangular file you say! I just so happen to have a bunch of old files. I'll have to anneal them but I'm pretty sure there's a beat up old triangular file in there.
Do they lend themselves to particular types of gravers more so than others?

I'll root around at my local Makerspace for some hammer sized scrap. I'm sure someones abandoned a large bolt or something.
 

Stefan

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#12
It is very good that you are familiar with metalworking. It is useful to you in mastering the profession of an engraver. But you are wasting precious time.
Now you must.
1. To study the work of masters-engravers.
2. Learns to make drawings. And master the composition.
3. Find a good teacher.
TOOL IT IS POSSIBLE TO BUY!
Remember, you are an engraver, and the tools for you should be done by the installers, locksmith and turner. The doctor heals, the shoemaker sews shoes and the engraver engraves.
By making the instrument itself, Sir, you take a piece of bread from those who make the instrument.
Good luck to you sir.
 

John B.

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#13
Pleurotus, Unlike tool steel drills the shanks of most M-2 high speed drills are hardened.
That is where you had a problem by trying to heat treat it. Use it as is, test with a file.
I make most of my gravers from M-2 drills by shaping and sharpening the shank.
And I cut hard gun steel with them.
 

Pleurotus

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@topolina - You seem to know your metals so I'd say your just as helpful as John B. Just for different things. Pleasure talking to you as well.

@Stefan - I appreciate the luck, I wouldn't call myself an engraver, not yet. If I were to self identify as anything it would be as a maker since it is a wonderfully broad term and I very much enjoy being a generalist.
As I said in my original post I'm currently unemployed so I really don't have much in the way of spare income at the moment. So purchasing tools or paying someone to teach me isn't really an option. Besides I'm still pretty young I've got lots of time at the moment.
I do make pretty good sourdough but my drawing skills could certainly use some polishing.

@John B. - Right so just straight up shaping from the shank would be easier but it would take some of the life out of my files and grinder wheels for sure.

I did anneal the shank before I shaped though and I should still be able to harden the shank myself though shouldn't I? The Hudson tools spec sheet for M2 lists warm oil and specifically mentions at the bottom to anneal before re-hardening. I think I was just doing my quench wrong

@FANCYGUN - Ah yes! Chainsaw files are already most of the way there. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for old ones. Currently my chainsaw files are much to useful to be turned into a different tool.

Haven't gotten around to making that second properly shaped onglette. Will update this thread with the results when I do.
 

John B.

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@topolina - You seem to know your metals so I'd say your just as helpful as John B. Just for different things. Pleasure talking to you as well.

@Stefan - I appreciate the luck, I wouldn't call myself an engraver, not yet. If I were to self identify as anything it would be as a maker since it is a wonderfully broad term and I very much enjoy being a generalist.
As I said in my original post I'm currently unemployed so I really don't have much in the way of spare income at the moment. So purchasing tools or paying someone to teach me isn't really an option. Besides I'm still pretty young I've got lots of time at the moment.
I do make pretty good sourdough but my drawing skills could certainly use some polishing.

@John B. - Right so just straight up shaping from the shank would be easier but it would take some of the life out of my files and grinder wheels for sure.

I did anneal the shank before I shaped though and I should still be able to harden the shank myself though shouldn't I? The Hudson tools spec sheet for M2 lists warm oil and specifically mentions at the bottom to anneal before re-hardening. I think I was just doing my quench wrong

@FANCYGUN - Ah yes! Chainsaw files are already most of the way there. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for old ones. Currently my chainsaw files are much to useful to be turned into a different tool.

Haven't gotten around to making that second properly shaped onglette. Will update this thread with the results when I do.
 

John B.

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#18
Pleurotus, my friend, you are overthinking this.
Grinding some small HS drill shanks is not going to harm your grinding wheels.
I have ground hundreds of them using the same wheel.
Just grind them slowly and keep them cool by drawing them back into a wet paper towel.
And use the same method if you make gravers out of a triangular or chain saw file.
No annealing or tempering required for HS drill bit shanks or files if you keep them cool while grinding. Carbon steel drill shanks are soft and require hardening for use as a graver.
 
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Borzzza

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#19
May I give a suggestion on graver geometry? Onglette is pretty hard to control for a beginner, you might try to make a 90 degree (easy to make) and also a wider angle, around 120 degrees. The face can be 45 but it can also be up to 50 degrees to make it stronger. Short heel of around 15 degrees is used in pneumatic assisted engraving, should also work for you.

You already found the best source of information on engraving here)) take a time to read glossary and make search on the forum for old posts regarding any question or definition, most probably someone here already asked the same question before you.
Check igraver.com and handengravingforum.com for more free information, read everything you can find, sometimes you get important tips in coments to posts.
 

Chujybear

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#20
hte shape looks fine.. maybe you over tempered it for what the steel is..
you run risk of stress fracture.. but sometimes i have just hardened, and not drawn back, or drawn back heating up the shank till the faintest light straw just kisses the ede of the tool, before i arrest the process.. as said above, if you work carefully, you can jut shape a file withought needing to anneal.

i have cut graver blanks from a carbide circular saw. reshaping the carhbide with diamond, works.
 

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