Help, please: HEEL DRAG PLEASEEEEE HELP

Joined
Apr 9, 2021
Messages
11
Please please please help.

I’m a bench jeweler and I’ve been learning engraving for a few months now, but not very consistently because of my full regular workload. I still try to put in at least ten to fifteen hours a week though. I can not stop this heel drag with tight corners, and even not so tight corners.

It happens when I try to bright cut letters with flats, with my 120, 105, and 90. Every graver and every geometry is giving me this problem. Even my Lindsay’s.

I have an apex sharpening system and all of Sam’s DVDs. I make the heels EXACTLY as he says, the exact width of a mark on a ruler. It doesn’t matter if I engrave deep or if I’m engraving incredibly shallow, there is always some sort of heel drag on curves.

I’ve tried every heel angle from 10 to 40. I feel like I’ve tried absolutely everything.

I’ve tried holding the graver at damn near every angle except 90 degrees straight down to the work and it’s on almost every curve almost every time. I keep my hand completely still and only turn the vise. I don’t move the graver into the turns it’s completely still. I have even tried rolling the graver to the inside or outside of the curve. I’ve tried everything. Absolutely everything. It’s driving me absolutely insaneeeeeee.

Also, I’m using a pulsegraver if that means anything.

Please. Please. Please help. I’m going crazy over here.
 

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Joined
Apr 9, 2021
Messages
11
Heel is too large all you need is a glint of light off the heel . After sharpening lightly drag the heel about 1/2 inch on a 3000. Grit stone MTC YMMV I use a ruby stone
My heel is exactly 1/4mm. I sharpen my gravers exactly as taught in Sams sharpening video. The belly behind the heel is what is causing the gray marks.
 

monk

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i,m going to guess that your wrist is perhaps wobbling a bit off the graver main axis. a bit left, then right then back left & so on.. as you roll the graver (intentionally) right or left to go from wide to narrow, or vice versa, the wrist wobble can cause this. pay close attention to your hand when you practice. don't worry about following a particular line. you may find this to be the problem. as flint doubles said, after a few k hours this will auto correct.
forgive me folks, but i'm seriously tempted to mention the "potato trick" here.
 

Matthew Evans

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i,m going to guess that your wrist is perhaps wobbling a bit off the graver main axis. a bit left, then right then back left & so on.. as you roll the graver (intentionally) right or left to go from wide to narrow, or vice versa, the wrist wobble can cause this. pay close attention to your hand when you practice. don't worry about following a particular line. you may find this to be the problem. as flint doubles said, after a few k hours this will auto correct.
forgive me folks, but i'm seriously tempted to mention the "potato trick" here.
I’ve heard russet are the best for carbide. Isn’t that right?
 

Daniel29

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Try to shorten the heel a bit more. I think you are a bit to much nailed to the 1/4mm heel. Sam is right here, it should not be longer than that. But i cant imagine he measured his heels and they are perfectly 0.25mm. Maybe his heels are only 0.19mm. I bet all he meant by that is that the heel should be slightly visible and as short as possible. I am sure the 0.25mm is meant as a guide for beginners and should not be understood to be as a number that solves all your problems. As you see for yourself, even though you say you have the EXACT lenght of the heel, there is more to it than being a slave to a number.

Dont get me wrong, i dont want to be rude with what i am saying now. We all started somewhere and so does you. And when i see your cuts on the larger S i would say you need a lot more confidence in your work. There is no consistency in your lines yet which tells that cutting has not arrived in your muscle memory yet. With every cut you get more control about your graver and heel drag will fade. A perfect heel alone does not make a perfect cut. Dont think to much about heel drag in tight corners. Focus on graver control first. The rest will follow.
 

mitch

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1/4mm is still almost 0.010", which sounds tiny, but by graver heel standards is still pretty big. mine are probably half that long and for tight work such as lettering, even shorter.

you also need to lean the graver to the outside of a curve- the exact, and somewhat counterintuitive, opposite of leaning a bicycle into the inside of a turn. that helps keep the heel in the bottom of the cut.
 

tdelewis

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Keep the graver pointed in the same direction and turn the vice. Do not turn or move your wrist. Let the turning of the vice follow the curve.

Are you using carbide tools. My first experience with carbide gravers was disappointing. Every time I cut around a curve they would chip. It happened because I was turning my wrist to follow the curve. Once I broke myself of the habit I have come to love the carbide gravers.

It is my guess that you are turning your wrist more than turning the vice. Try some practice scrolls and keep your wrist and graver pointed in the same direction and follow the scroll just by turning the vice.
 

Sam

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Here’s my reply to your Facebook post in case you didn’t see it.

————————

Heel drag is usually the result of 10% graver geometry and 90% (lack of) graver control.

You have some really good, clean lines, and a few with heel drag. You will notice that on gentle curves there's less drag, and on tight curves there's more. Remember that the rotational speed of the vise is faster on a tight curve than a slow one. Which is easier, driving your car around a gentle curve or a very tight one? Tighter curves place greater demands on driving a car, flying a plane, or hand engraving.

You have sharpened correctly. It sounds like you're doing everything right, but back off on your depth. Cut a series of small circles but don't go so deep. Strive to make them as perfect as you can. The gradually increase the depth later. By the looks of the areas you're struggling the most with, you're cutting too deep.

Also, I suggest cutting carefully drawn patterns instead of random wiggly lines. There's no discipline in cutting like that. And they are so tight you're exceeding your ability to control the graver without creating drag. Cut gentle curves and circles and some simple leaves and shape and make them perfect. As your control develops you'll be able to cut a tight radius with no problem. You're just not there yet.

I applaud your efforts. You're working hard and it shows. And you did the right thing by asking for feedback. That's what we're here for.

Cheers!
 

Raudt89

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Mar 27, 2021
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I see very good answers here and I think they are all valid. In the personal I have obtained better results with 0.1 mm (0.003 ") heels. Before I used to measure it approximately by establishing said measurement in a caliper and then comparing under the microscope the distance between the teeth of the caliper and the size of the heel, later I have learned to achieve such a measure without using the scope.
 

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