Practice plates

DAS

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Sep 16, 2017
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Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
I’m looking for some beginner practice plate designs that I can download make transfers from. Even basic ones with concentric circles, parallel,straight line up to practice scrolls. Any good places I can find these?

I’ve read practice plates should be 1.5” to 2” square, 16-12 Guage (1.5-mm thick). Mild steel, Aluminium, or Brass. Are there any specific grades that are best or to be avoided?
 

Daniel29

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May 10, 2012
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Germany
Just buy the GRS steel practice plates. They work fine. It is mild steel that cuts very well. Dont be afraid from the word steel. It cuts better than anything else. And if your graver is sharp, which it always should be, then there is no problem.

Do you want to hand push, using hammer and chisel or a pneumatic tool? If you want to start with hand push i would not start with brass. Use copper instead.

For practice designs just make some straight lines with a ruler and some circles with a divider. There is no special design to start with. It is not what you cut first, it is to cut at all. That means you should get graver controll by cutting to most simple forms. Just straight lines and some small waves or circles.
 
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Brant

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Feb 6, 2014
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Chicago suburbs
I posted these several years back, this should give you plenty to get started.

Use the search feature and enter “practise plates”. I know my spelling sucks, but the geometries will give you plenty to keep you busy.

Enjoy
 

jerrywh

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I bought some plates from a sheet metal shop and some from GRS. Believe me, there is a difference. The GRS plates cut much smoother. Cheap stuff is never very good IMHO. I don't work for GRS either.
 

DAS

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Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
I bought some plates from a sheet metal shop and some from GRS. Believe me, there is a difference. The GRS plates cut much smoother. Cheap stuff is never very good IMHO. I don't work for GRS either.
I wonder what the different grade of steel is in each?
 

DAS

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Sep 16, 2017
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Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Brant, thanks for that. Not ready for script yet but the square borders and S curves are the type of basic things I need to start with. Like to get some for very basic scroll elements also.
 

tdelewis

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Volant, PA 60 miles north of Pittsburgh
Practice plates are for practice. There are other sources of steel, than GRS, that are less expensive and will work fine. Some may like to make engraved pieces to show what they can provide to customers for examples. They may want better steel. Perhaps machine shops can provide some scrap that can be used. They should be able to tell what kind of steel and how it will cut.
 
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AllenClapp

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Aug 7, 2019
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Raleigh, NC
Three comments:
1. Plate thickness. The gauge of the metal can be an issue. GRS has chosen a thickness that is pretty good at limiting flex during cutting. This cuts down on vibration noise and cutting chatter. Some plates from other places are thinner, which can lead to more noise and cutting chatter, if the plate is not properly supported. Any practice plate sold by an engraver supplier should cut well, but support can be an issue with the thinner ones. If noise becomes an issue with plates that you can't support well with your vise, there are several options to getting a thicker plate.
a. You can put another plate under it. You may find that you need to stick them together with double stick tape or Superglue (you can dissolve the Superglue later with acetone or heat the plates to get them apart).
b. You can put a glob of clay on the back side as a dampener. This is very easy to do and works well in a lot of cases.
2. Surface smoothness. If you want a brighter plate than the normal practice plate surface, you will need to sand the surface. This takes time and a little money for progressive grits of wet-dry sandpaper and a little oil to help remove the charf and keep the paper cutting. I have dedicated a 3x21" belt sander to that task. I keep it upside down in a wood vise. I usually do several at a time, so I'm not changing belts so often. I use baby oil as lubricant (it is a lot cheaper than WD-40, etc.).
3. Cronite plates. GRS and other vendors sell Cronite plates. These are more expensive, but they are very smooth and cut very well. Cronite plates are perfect for cutting engraved sample plates. They look great. The extra cost may well be offset by the time/expense you no longer need to take to sand the surface smooth. The only downside is that they are a little thinner and may require more support than a standard GRS plate.
 

Crossbolt

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Jun 22, 2016
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San Francisco Bay Area, California
Three comments:
1. Plate thickness. The gauge of the metal can be an issue. GRS has chosen a thickness that is pretty good at limiting flex during cutting. This cuts down on vibration noise and cutting chatter. Some plates from other places are thinner, which can lead to more noise and cutting chatter, if the plate is not properly supported. Any practice plate sold by an engraver supplier should cut well, but support can be an issue with the thinner ones. If noise becomes an issue with plates that you can't support well with your vise, there are several options to getting a thicker plate.
a. You can put another plate under it. You may find that you need to stick them together with double stick tape or Superglue (you can dissolve the Superglue later with acetone or heat the plates to get them apart).
b. You can put a glob of clay on the back side as a dampener. This is very easy to do and works well in a lot of cases.
2. Surface smoothness. If you want a brighter plate than the normal practice plate surface, you will need to sand the surface. This takes time and a little money for progressive grits of wet-dry sandpaper and a little oil to help remove the charf and keep the paper cutting. I have dedicated a 3x21" belt sander to that task. I keep it upside down in a wood vise. I usually do several at a time, so I'm not changing belts so often. I use baby oil as lubricant (it is a lot cheaper than WD-40, etc.).
3. Cronite plates. GRS and other vendors sell Cronite plates. These are more expensive, but they are very smooth and cut very well. Cronite plates are perfect for cutting engraved sample plates. They look great. The extra cost may well be offset by the time/expense you no longer need to take to sand the surface smooth. The only downside is that they are a little thinner and may require more support than a standard GRS plate.
I find the finer the finish the smoother the cutting.
 

Hobie

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Dec 27, 2020
Messages
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Location
Manassas, VA, USA
If this helps. Back in January I ordered practice plates directly from Cronite:

XTP- 18 Ga. Thin Steel Plates, (2" X 2"), $1.15 each, $35 order minimum, plus shipping.

Call (973) 887-7900. I spoke with Patty Salvesen <cronite2@aol.com>. Try to maximize your order to minimize the shipping cost per plate. Work that out with Patty before finalizing the order. Otherwise, you could end up something like $25+ for a $35 order. I don't recall what my shipping worked out to be.
 

Hobie

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Dec 27, 2020
Messages
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Manassas, VA, USA
BTW, I found the info from my order, but I ordered 2.5"x2.0" plates and not the standard 2.0"x2.0" plates. They had two packs, 12 plates per pack, of them on the shelf ready to ship, so that is what I ordered.

The total came out to $32.40 @ $1.35/ea. They exempted the order from the $35 minimum. Shipping was $20.54, for a grand total of $52.94 or $2.20/plate, if you include shipping.

One pack of 12 of these 2.5"x2" plates weighs 13.75 oz by my scale. Each plate in the pack is separated by a thin layer of wax and wax paper. The pack itself is wrapped in wax paper. The thin layer of wax cleans off easily with a paper towel and acetone.

The Cronite plates come already polished on both sides. As a beginner just practicing the basics, these plates could be considered overkill, but I use both sides of the plates, so that also brings my cost down.
 
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DKanger

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West TN
The total came out to $32.40 @ $1.35/ea. They exempted the order from the $35 minimum. Shipping was $20.54, for a grand total of $52.94 or $2.20/plate, if you include shipping.
One wonders why they don't just use a USPS flat rate box @ $8.50. The shipping algorithms that shipping software uses is just adding to the bottom line of the companies. Many businesses use outside vendors for their packing and shipping.
 

DAS

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Sep 16, 2017
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Location
Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Part of the reason I ask for material grade of the steel is I’m in Australia and don’t have engraving suppliers over here. Shipping from the USA is often many times the cost of the item and quite prohibitive.
 

John B.

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Das, again it would be some help in answering you if you and others put their general location in their bio.
I for one, had no idea you were in Australia.
 

billyProps

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Feb 22, 2021
Messages
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I wonder what the different grade of steel is in each?
I’ve bee
Part of the reason I ask for material grade of the steel is I’m in Australia and don’t have engraving suppliers over here. Shipping from the USA is often many times the cost of the item and quite prohibitive.
I’m looking for some beginner practice plate designs that I can download make transfers from. Even basic ones with concentric circles, parallel,straight line up to practice scrolls. Any good places I can find these?

I’ve read practice plates should be 1.5” to 2” square, 16-12 Guage (1.5-mm thick). Mild steel, Aluminium, or Brass. Are there any specific grades that are best or to be avoided?
I wonder what the different grade of steel is in eac
I just ordered some steel from McMaster Carr to practice on. I’ve been engraving brass so far and the one time I tried steel it cut surprisingly easy. the steel I ordered is called “high tolerance low carbon steel”. I’m sure there’s a local supplier.
 
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