Question: How to shape objects when engraving?

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Jun 26, 2017
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Thread starter #1
I know that with engraving you can shade and remove background to create a 3d visual, but I also see a lot of engraved items with objects within the picture has curves and has been shaped. Does anyone know if you need a specific tool or is it just taking the background graver and just working it with the object or do engravers use a specific tool? I appreciate any info on this. I only use hammer and chisel so I can't use any grs air tool.
 
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#3
So far in my studies I've seen more of this successfully done by sculpting. Sam Alfano uses a brass punch on a pneumatic handpiece set to low rpms, something around 1200rpm if I recall. I am using a hammer handpiece on a micromotor with a brass punch to achieve the effect since I'm more intimate with that tool from years of jewelry work. The micromotor with both rotory and hammering handpieces does a great job of background removal and stippling as well.
 
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#5
So far in my studies I've seen more of this successfully done by sculpting. Sam Alfano uses a brass punch on a pneumatic handpiece set to low rpms, something around 1200rpm if I recall. I am using a hammer handpiece on a micromotor with a brass punch to achieve the effect since I'm more intimate with that tool from years of jewelry work. The micromotor with both rotory and hammering handpieces does a great job of background removal and stippling as well.
Is that something that attaches to a foredom? I dont believe I've seen anything like that done before.
 

SamW

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#6
Philippe, this photo shows my way of sculpting scenes. From the right to the left...drawing design on metal, cutting outlines, removing background and then sculpting with scrapers, chisels and burinshers to smooth background and shape images. Detail was then added with dot shading (bulino). sculpting technique.jpg
 
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#7
(Reply to Jon Silas)

Okay, so there are two primary tools used for these applications.

Pendulum motor type rotary tools, of which Foredom is a good brand name and you are familiar. These have a strong electric motor often hanging from an overhead fixture, and the power moves to your handpiece through a flexible shaft; a cable rotating inside of a sheath with a protective spring-like coil. There are multiple types of handpiece you can attach to this instrument. We'll visit handpieces in a second.

And Micromotors. These differ from pendulum motors in that there is a small, super high RPM motor INSIDE the handpiece itself. It is connected by wire to the power control unit for RPM control and usually operated by foot pedal similarly to a pendulum motor.

Where pendulum motors have a potentiometer inside the foot pedal that acts as a rheostatic power control, giving you a ramp up in power as you further depress the pedal, the micromotor has a simple temporary on/off switch in the foot pedal and the power is controlled by a knob. (Some have different features, but this is the average arrangement)

A hammer handpiece can be used with either of these tool classes, and I have both. It converts the rotational motion of the motor to a stroking piston that strikes an anvil inside of the handpiece, and the anvil holds your attachment, be it a graver or a punch or anything else.

There are some pros and cons of both tool classes:

Pendulum motors have stronger power delivery and torque than micromotors, but usually lower RPMs. There is also less control with a pendulum motor, as the flexible shaft is still somewhat rigid, and you will feel a resistance to your movements, even if slight. There's also a sort of jerking motion in the shaft as you depress the pedal and the rotational energy is forced to change direction from the motor to your handpiece, lending to slippage if not careful when you first depress the pedal.

Micromotors have very high RPMs, with less torque. Because the motor resides in the handpiece itself, it lends itself to a higher level of control, as there's no flex-shaft to resist and wobble, only a coiled wire that you barely feel at all. Even more control is provided in the RPMs; Because the foot pedal is only on or off, and you can set the power exactly where you want it, you can get a consistent speed much more comfortably than with a pendulum motor's rheostat, which acts more like a vehicle's gas pedal and accelerates depending on how much it is depressed. This can lead to ankle fatigue when holding a specific RPM for long periods, so the micromotor is more controllable for some uses.

Both types can have a setting which reverses the motion between clockwise and counter-clockwise, but this is more often found on micromotors, and I use it mostly to control bur skittering and the direction in which shavings and chips are deposited.

I find that when I am doing general drilling, sanding, grinding, polishing, and blunt instrument work to move material, the pendulum motor is my favorite.

For precision stone setting, controlled rpms of a hammer handpiece, and other smaller, trickier work, the micromotor is hands down the surgical instrument of choice.

Now, some people swear by one or the other, and use it for absolutely everything, but I like to play to both of their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

The right side of my bench, used for torch work and big metal moving, has my pendulum motor overhead and a bench pin and soldering pad, etc. More the classic bench jeweler setup. The left side is where my pulse arc welder, microscope, benchmate/ball vise, micromotor and pneumatic graver setup live for precision work.

I have separate benches for working on timepieces and blacksmithing, gemological/appraisal work, etc. to keep dust out of the way and give me dedicated zones for different work types. Also a grinding/polishing room to isolate that dust monster a bit.

This was a huge reply, so maybe a moderator could move it to an appropriate location if needed... Hopefully this helped some folks.

By the way, there is another type of rotary tool that you can attach to your compressed air setup, and it appears to fill the role of a micromotor, having high control and rpms with less torque. I don't own and use one, but Sam Alfano does good work with it, and most dentists use this tool. The handpieces are a bit smaller than micromotors, since there's no motor inside.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
82
Location
Central Kentucky
#9
(Reply to Jon Silas)

Okay, so there are two primary tools used for these applications.

Pendulum motor type rotary tools, of which Foredom is a good brand name and you are familiar. These have a strong electric motor often hanging from an overhead fixture, and the power moves to your handpiece through a flexible shaft; a cable rotating inside of a sheath with a protective spring-like coil. There are multiple types of handpiece you can attach to this instrument. We'll visit handpieces in a second.

And Micromotors. These differ from pendulum motors in that there is a small, super high RPM motor INSIDE the handpiece itself. It is connected by wire to the power control unit for RPM control and usually operated by foot pedal similarly to a pendulum motor.

Where pendulum motors have a potentiometer inside the foot pedal that acts as a rheostatic power control, giving you a ramp up in power as you further depress the pedal, the micromotor has a simple temporary on/off switch in the foot pedal and the power is controlled by a knob. (Some have different features, but this is the average arrangement)

A hammer handpiece can be used with either of these tool classes, and I have both. It converts the rotational motion of the motor to a stroking piston that strikes an anvil inside of the handpiece, and the anvil holds your attachment, be it a graver or a punch or anything else.

There are some pros and cons of both tool classes:

Pendulum motors have stronger power delivery and torque than micromotors, but usually lower RPMs. There is also less control with a pendulum motor, as the flexible shaft is still somewhat rigid, and you will feel a resistance to your movements, even if slight. There's also a sort of jerking motion in the shaft as you depress the pedal and the rotational energy is forced to change direction from the motor to your handpiece, lending to slippage if not careful when you first depress the pedal.

Micromotors have very high RPMs, with less torque. Because the motor resides in the handpiece itself, it lends itself to a higher level of control, as there's no flex-shaft to resist and wobble, only a coiled wire that you barely feel at all. Even more control is provided in the RPMs; Because the foot pedal is only on or off, and you can set the power exactly where you want it, you can get a consistent speed much more comfortably than with a pendulum motor's rheostat, which acts more like a vehicle's gas pedal and accelerates depending on how much it is depressed. This can lead to ankle fatigue when holding a specific RPM for long periods, so the micromotor is more controllable for some uses.

Both types can have a setting which reverses the motion between clockwise and counter-clockwise, but this is more often found on micromotors, and I use it mostly to control bur skittering and the direction in which shavings and chips are deposited.

I find that when I am doing general drilling, sanding, grinding, polishing, and blunt instrument work to move material, the pendulum motor is my favorite.

For precision stone setting, controlled rpms of a hammer handpiece, and other smaller, trickier work, the micromotor is hands down the surgical instrument of choice.

Now, some people swear by one or the other, and use it for absolutely everything, but I like to play to both of their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

The right side of my bench, used for torch work and big metal moving, has my pendulum motor overhead and a bench pin and soldering pad, etc. More the classic bench jeweler setup. The left side is where my pulse arc welder, microscope, benchmate/ball vise, micromotor and pneumatic graver setup live for precision work.

I have separate benches for working on timepieces and blacksmithing, gemological/appraisal work, etc. to keep dust out of the way and give me dedicated zones for different work types. Also a grinding/polishing room to isolate that dust monster a bit.

This was a huge reply, so maybe a moderator could move it to an appropriate location if needed... Hopefully this helped some folks.

By the way, there is another type of rotary tool that you can attach to your compressed air setup, and it appears to fill the role of a micromotor, having high control and rpms with less torque. I don't own and use one, but Sam Alfano does good work with it, and most dentists use this tool. The handpieces are a bit smaller than micromotors, since there's no motor inside.
I feel like I have a college degree in rotary tools now! Thank you for the information. I actually have an air tool called an NSK presto that I use for detail carving in wood but hadn't considered using it as a metal sculpting aid. Ide be worried honestly about it getting away from me, it spins at about 400 thousand rpm and at least in wood what it touches disappears. I'll have to do some research on hammer attachments for the foredom in the future. Thanks again.

Jon.
 

jerrywh

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I saw the gun that Sam W shows in this thread at the FEGA show. That photo doesn't do it justice at all. I have seen other photos of it and they look flat but in person it is great and really surprised me. It would be a treat for you to see it in person.
 
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#17
A dental air rotary tool is what I use for some background work more, it can cut the tiniest bit or large areas. Hooks up to any compressor, cheap dental burs of carbide or diamond dust, works well and you can grind them down to put whiskers on a fly. I have mine on a cheap foot control to regulate the speed. Easy hook up with one hose. They come in different angles also. $30 on amazon. Also have a NSK presto and Foredom, don't use them any more. This is much more comfortable. Just a thought. Might check it out for yourself.

roger from Oz
 

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