Question: Rotary Question for Gun Engravers

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Thread starter #1
I've read a thread on stippling led to a post with a video on background removal with a rotary. This was followed by a thread on rotary point geometry and more rotary discussion. This all-in-one background removal/stipple/texturing method seemed a mavelous revelation.

This all had the effect of making me "need" a rotary tool. A search of this and another engraving forum left me with more questions than answers. The opinions ranged from very bad to very good depending on what the respondents engraving medium was. I was unable to discerne a course of direction from the wide ranging responses.

To narrow it down, I ultimately want to engrave guns. So two questions of those gun engravers.

1. To rotary or not to rotary?
2. Which rotary?
A. High speed air, 300,000+ rpm like the Presto or 850?
B. High torque micromotor, 40,000 rpm like the NSK evolution?

Thanks in advance for your help.
 

JJ Roberts

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#2
axeman11,I've never used a rotary tool for background removal I cross hatch the background out with a single point graver,there are engravers who have good control with a rotary tool.I don't trust myself with the rotary tool,one slip when engraving a gun and you'll have some big problems.Take your time,thats my 2 cents.J.J.
 

SamW

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#3
I do the same as J.J.. I find the rotary useful for some forms of sculpting such as concave areas but it sure can remove more than you bargain for a lot faster than you would think. If there is any way you could visit with someone who uses the rotary for background removal that would give you a difinitive answer.
 

Glenn

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#4
Listen well to the above masters. One slip and the world fall in on you. Single point removal of back ground material is the way to go on guns!
 

sam

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#5
I use a rotary tool for background removal with .4mm and .5mm carbide balls burs (1/16" shank). A rotary tool can be a great asset for relief engraving, but as Sam W. and JJ have warned, it can also be a hairy beast if it gets away from you.

I have both the high speed turbine handpiece and the NSK micromotor. I use both, but find myself using the NSK more. You can actually feel the grinding action since the RPM is many times slower than the blazing fast air turbine handpiece.
 

Ed Westerly

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#6
I've tried a GRS 850 for background removal on guns are made from very hard metal, as sometimes that is the only way to get the job done, but I prefer to use a small flat for most background removal. I assume that the reason that you want to try the rotary is that you think it will be faster, but I have found that it actually slows me down, as I'm always expecting the burr to hang up on some spot and dig a hole before I can catch it, so I use it cautiously. My favorite flat is the #36. I only use a single point in the corners.
 

Beathard

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#7
I believe the more you research any tool the more confused you may get by the array of opinions.

I use an 850 on items appropriate for its use. I find that I need to protect myself from myself. I use a flat (various sizes) to create a safety zone next to my bevel cuts. I then use the rotary to remove the background inside the channels I cut with the flat. This gives me the safety factor I need to not have runaways.

Like Sam I use a .5mm ball in the 850.

It really speeds up background removal which I believe is the boring part of engraving. This gives me more time to do the fun stuff.
 

FANCYGUN

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#8
I also do not feel comfortable using a rotary for background removal. I have used a flat graver for so long that it is second nature to me by now. Backgrounds and how you treat them can create various effects for your scroll. Removing the background isn't too boring. What really stinks is the stippling of the background. Now that is tedious and boring. Thank goodness for the Maestro handpiece which helps make it faster and gives me more control for stippling.
 

Ray Cover

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#9
For what it is worth. here is my experience.

1. Like many other above I still use gravers to remove background on just about everything. Gun parts, stainless and ti knife parts and soft nonferrous metals, etc.

I actually timed and for me taking background out with a rotary tool was much slower than with gravers on the average job. I can take a background out with gravers in about 60% of the time it takes me to finish the same background with a rotary tool.

However, as stated above when I get a heat treated part that is hard (like a pistol hammer) the rotary tool can be helpful.

I also do not like the way a background looks when it has been stippled with a rotary tool. Its hard to see in photographs, but a background properly stippled with a punch looks much sharper and cleaner than one that has been dimpled with a rotary tool. JMHO.

As Sam stated they can come in handy when sculpting and you have an area to hollow that you don't have clearance to use a chisel on.

2. Like Sam I have both systems here. I prefer the micro motor over the air turbin for the very reasons Sam stated.

Don't let me talk you out of buying one if you want it. They do have their uses even if they do not have any real advantage over gravers for background removal.

I would recommend getting a micromotor over a air turbin. My micromotor actually carves faster than my air turbin and as Sam stated you can FEEL them cut and for me that helps in controlling the cut. If you get a micromotor you can also get collets tohold 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 inch shanked burs. This allowes me to use my micromotor for tool making as well as carving. I can put a piece of 1/8" stock in the micromotor using the proper collet and spin the stock while shaping it into a stipple punch, forming punch or plannishing tool on my powerhone.

Also You can get one for a lot cheaper than the NSK. Mine is a Micro-Pro carver from Wood Carvers Supply Inc. I have had it for about 7 years now and never had a problem with it yet. Its variable speed from 0-50K rpms, forward or reverse and has a foot pedal option. Mine cost me around $350 new.

Ray
 

Ed Westerly

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#10
I agree with the last three posts here. Let me add that while I do not use my 850 for backgrounds, I do use it for other work, especially hard metal removal. I have mine hooked up to a foot pedal, so I can stomp for highest speed or back off for lower rpm. As to Fancygun's asertion that stimpling is the boring part, I set my Gravermach at 5300 spm, and hold the handpiece like a air brush and touch the metal lightly and very quickly in small circles. I find it fun!
 
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Thread starter #11
This is my first post here I think. I am floored by the magnitude of response in such a short time, and by so many "famous" names (to me). From what I gather so far, many have rotarys but not many prefer them to the safety of hand power particular to background removal in gun engraving. I have heard of the technique Beathard uses in creating a safety zone around the perimeter with a flat before proceeding with a rotary. I will withhold a rotary purchase until I have had a chance to try one out. Even at a few hundred dollar at the bottom of the scale, they seem an unnecessary expense at my level of expertise presently.

A question came to mind, if not preferred for background removal in guns, what other uses (besides hardened metal removal mentioned) does the rotary have in gun engraving. It seems all of you have them. They must have many uses?

On another note. I joined FEGA yesterday and look forward to gaining access to the member area. I've attended two shows in Reno in the past few years and really enjoyed them.
 

Ray Cover

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#12
Were engravers axeman. I'm sure we all have a lot of tools that we hardly ever use. :)

I do use mine occasionally for making punches and such but I really don't use it much at all for engraving. Buying one would be on the bottom of my list. There are a lot of other things that would take priority to me. Good lighting, optics, a good sharpening system, a good solid vise, etc etc.

Ray
 

Ed Westerly

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#13
I bought mine on the chance that it would come in handy at some point. I really don't use it very often (about once every 6 months or so). I mostly use it as stated, for hard metal background removal. Usually this is when the metal work hardens when I cut it the first time, because when I remove it with the rotary the metal doesn't harden until I stipple it.
 
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#14
I think you will find that those with a jewelery background can excavate background more quickly with the rotary. We are use to using them. Te issue of speed has do with keeping your tool sharp This can be accomplished by using the correct speed and having good torque . I would not use a turbine you will quickly dull burs. The speed is just too high for this kind of work and the sizes of burs.

I would go with a micromotor and Ray is correct you don't need to buy the most expensive one. The proper speed is determined by the size of the bur the material it's made from and the number of teeth. I use mostly carbide for background removal. anywhere from 0.2mm to 0.5mm. The larger the bur you can use the better and more rapid it will go. I would reccomend using a cutting speed of around 12 to 15,000 rpm and not faster. In the beginning if you use a faster speed with these small burs It will seem like it is going faster but they will dull and you will start to remove more slowly.

The key is to cut away material cleanly there shouldn't be any material build up in front of the bur or you have a bur that is dulling or going faster than the bur can cut. Most people make the mistake of thinking that if it cuts fast with this speed then faster will be better. Simply not true. With any kind of machining which is what this is hand machining. There are optimum speeds and feeds.

Chris
 
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Thread starter #16
Rotary question

Thanks peoples. I am humbled and quite floored by all the helpfulness. I am trying to figure out how to post pictures on this sight now for future show and tell. It seems that there are more gun engravers here than on another sight i frequent. I also look forward to interacting on the FEGA sight, which seems in it's infancy right now. I will heed all the advice. I do love all the engraving tools though and will start knocking out everything on my want list in priority. Rotary will be low Ray, thanks for he advise. The advise on the speeds and tools is great too.

I have the information I need. Just to synopsize:

The question pertained to rotary tools used in gun engravings only.

Most gun engravers responding from two forums stated they have a rotary or two. Most prefer hand excavation and stippling the background for guns. Rotarys have their place in removing material from hardened gun parts as well as sculpting and tool making. More than one respondent who used rotarys for background removal used a flat to excavate a "safety zone" around the perimeter before proceeding with the rotary. if one type of rotary is preferred over another for gun engraving, it is the micro motor because of its torque at lower speeds. although many had both air and micro motor. Tool geometry and speed plays a big part in tool control, the lack of which is scarey and can cause unintended consequences. because of this, speed, tool and bit selection is an important part of the equation in using rotarys for gun engraving.

I hope this answers the question concerning rotary tools for gun engraving for others who might have that same question. Jewelry or knife engravers might have a different opinion. Thank you everyone for your input.
 
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Hora

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#17
As being a goldsmith myself I have just a small addition to make to the speed-uses issue. The high speeds can be used to polish metal with the right polishing bits. It especially works nice on hard materials like stainless steels but also works on silver and gold. But . . . even here practis and experience is key. You easily mess up any work or value! From my own experience it takes real time before you can handle this kind of tools with garanteed and expected results. Please be carefull before you use it on any commercial items and value the advices made earlier in this thread.

To all contributers of this thread; This is one very good piece of text all together, thanks!
 

Roger Bleile

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#18
There is one issue about removing metal with a rotary grinder that I don't think has been mentioned. I believe that everyone who uses a rotary for background removal also uses a microscope for magnification. Those areas between leaves of scrollwork are really tiny and you need magnification to excavate them without running into the foreground which seems more critical with a rotary than a graver. Also, If you are grinding away using only an optivisor, you run the risk of getting debris in your eyes because your eyes are much closer to the work than when you are looking through a scope.

I'm interested to know if anyone out there uses a rotary for background removal without a scope.

RB
 

Beathard

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I use it with scope and optivisor. When I use the optivisor I also use safety glasses. I've just been paranoid about metal fragments. I had one in an eye several years ago and it was painful.
 
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Thread starter #20
Well I took Ray Covers (and many others) advise above and searched for a micro motor. I found one on eBay for $129 including shipping....from China. I ordered this one 09/17/12 and surprisingly received it today, 09/22/12. USPS knocked on my door and handed it over in exchange for my signature. That was FAST. It is a brush type unit similar to the one Ray recommended. For the price it was worth the chance to me. This model is made in Korea which has higher manufacturing standards for electronics than China.

The unit model is a "Strong 90". It comes with a 35,000 rpm hand piece, U.S. power adapter, and a foot control. it has forward and reverse features and a friction lock collet system. The housing is made from thick metal and the unit has a heft and quality feel to it. The hand piece also has a feel of quality. I plugging it in, i noted that it operated quietly and smoothly with no vibration. In pinching the smooth shaft between my fingers, it appears to have good torque. The hand piece was smaller than i anticipated and the more slender tip if this unit allowed holding it like a pencil. I am ordering some of the round carbide burs on Monday. Any recommendations on other burs commonly used for gun engraving?

Here are some pics of the unboxing. Performance review to follow.
 

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