Engraving methods

Joined
Jul 26, 2014
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Thread starter #1
I notice there are three different common engraving methods. The push engraver, the hammer and chisel method and then the air graver, which i suppose is a progression of the hammer and chisel.

Is the method used just down to the preference of the individual engraver ? Or are each type used for different situations or materials ?
 

monk

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#2
well, imho, it really depends upon the individual, their training, and ultimately the choice they settle upon. you'll see the very finest work currently done, is done by all 3 methods. the tool is only a tool. it's the hand and mind that determines the quality of work.
i have done all 3 techniques. i also found myself turning off the air assist and just pushing. it all depended on my mood and the result i wanted. naturally, the learning curve differs somewhat depending on the chosen technique.
regardless of technique, one must master drawing/design principles, tool sharpening, and if applicable-- developing a sound busines plan.
 

Roger Bleile

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#5
It really does depend on what your goal is with engraving. For instance, if you want to engrave copper plates to create print art, all you need are some hand pushed burins. If you intend to engrave on items of hardened steel you will need a hammer and some long gravers or an air powered system. There are lots of other applications for hand engraving. You really need to decide what you want to do with engraving then elaborate on it here, then you will get some good answers.
 
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Thread starter #6
Thanks for all the replies. I will probably work with steel, its a material i am used to working with and like, as well as most of my interests being either firearm or knife related. But i was watching engravers at work on youtube, from Westley Richards and i think Holland and Holland, they were using the push method of engraving.
 
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#7
This question is a tricky one and always will be.

The tools you use, burin, hammer/chisel or air assist will not make any difference to the quality of your work.

All of the methods can create museum quality work or a butchers mess. It all depends on the quality of the craftsman/artisan using the tools.

Having said that, the two issues with all these methods are time and money.

Obviously money is a big factor because for a few dollars you can make/buy a few rudimentary tools such as burin and hammer chisel and go to it. It’s how many engravers started and many have retained throughout their engraving career. Once you get into air assist then you can outlay a lot of money for a good set-up. So think carefully about how committed you are or going to be.

Time is also an important factor. To learn hammer chisel and burin/push graving takes longer than air assist. With air assist you can be cutting metal effectively very quickly. Getting good at it takes a lot longer.

However the biggest time investment is practice with all of the methods. If you practice for an hour a week then you will get nowhere very fast. If you practice for 20 hours a week you will get there a lot sooner.

But…………and it’s a big BUT.

There are two parts to engraving. The technique with whatever tools you choose. This is the easy part of it all and the least expensive.

It is the pencil/paper design side that will challenge you the most and cost you the most amount of time regardless of which tools you use.

To sum up.

If you have the money and feel committed to the whole deal……….then buy air assist.

If you are unsure of your commitment…………then start with hammer and chisel till you are certain that a financial outlay is worth it. Then decide if you want to stick with that method or go the air assist way.

Decisions, decisions, decisions :)


Cheers
Andrew
 
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Thread starter #8
Thank you Andrew. I am trying to learn to engrave with my crude set up during the day, and practising my drawing at night. Drawing and sketching is something i did a lot of when i was a lot younger than i am now, so i know i can do that, just shaking rust off old skills and trying to learn a new one.

Whatever happens, i am having a lot of fun.
 

Roger Bleile

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#9
" i was watching engravers at work on youtube, from Westley Richards and i think Holland and Holland, they were using the push method of engraving."

Don't let what you saw there fool you. Some of those engravers use air assist tools but there is another aspect of their work to consider. British factory engravers usually get the gun parts in the white, soft, pre-hardened state. Because of that, those guns can be engraved by a highly skilled person with a push graver. If you are in the USA all the guns you will be working on will be in the hardened, finished state. You will have to disassemble the gun, remove the bluing, polish the gun, engrave it, refinish with bluing, French gray, or whatever, then reassemble it. Also, British shotgun actions do not need to be made of the same kind of high tensile strength steel that handguns and high powered rifles require. Shotgun shells fire in the 8-12,000 psi range while handguns are in the 30,000 psi range and rifle shells can run into the 60,000 psi range. So you can see that much tougher steels are needed for rifles and pistols. So forget about trying to engrave any gun you (especially as a novice) are likely to encounter with a push graver. That said, a burin can be used for fine line and dot bulino scenes and figures on some of the older classic American guns.

By the way, if any terminology on this site is unknown to you, check out my illustrated dictionary at: www.engravingglossary.com.
 
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#10
if I would have known in 1972 after returning from RVN that I would love this craft as much then as I do now................I'm sure I would right up with the big boy's!!!!!
 

Roger B

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#11
However the biggest time investment is practice with all of the methods. If you practice for an hour a week then you will get nowhere very fast. If you practice for 20 hours a week you will get there a lot sooner.
I'd like to think that after practicing for 20 hours a week I would be getting some place other than "nowhere" quickly ;) Think I know what you mean though.

Roger
 

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