Steel plates practice

Maximus

Member
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
10
Location
Austin TX
Thread starter #1
Hi guys,

What kind of steel would you recommend to practice gun engraving?
I read on the internet about a woman learning the trade in a shop.
They gave her blocks of steel to engrave. if what she did was not good,
she would take the block to a machine shop to erase the engraving and
start over. What do you think?
Thanks
Maximus
 

monk

Moderator
Staff member
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
9,252
Location
washington, pa
#5
buy a bunch, date them when finished. keeping practice plates allows quick review of yer work, and also shows timeline of improvement. check with a local scrapyard or metal working shop. with a bit of effort, one may get a bushel of crs or hrs for free or next to nothing. no reason to spend a lot of money, unless that is yer hobby.
 

dogcatcher

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Messages
456
Location
Abilene TX Ruidoso NM
#6
Find a local steel supplier, you will save the shipping costs and have it now. Another source is fender washers, can't remember who suggested them, but I had a ball "doodling" engravings on fender washers. You can remove the zinc coating with muriatic acid, do that outside and STUDY about the safety requirements before you use it. cold rolled steel, it is easily cut with a 4" angle grinder

Even a local hardware store will have small sheets of sheets of steel. Using the right wheel they can be cut using a 4" angle grinder.
 

MoldyJim

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
156
Location
JUNCTION CITY OREGON
#7
Check in (make friends with the operator) with a laser or waterjet sheet metal cutting shop.
Lots of the scrap cutout pieces get recycled, square, round, odd shaped holes, make the scraps into practice plates.
Probably free or at least for the cost of a six pack.
 

tdelewis

Elite Cafe Member
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Oct 10, 2010
Messages
401
Location
Volant, PA 60 miles north of Pittsburgh
#8
I go to the local hardware store or Tractor Supply and purchase their 2 or 3 inch wide flat steel stock. I then cut off a section on my band saw and clean it up on my belt sander. It is stationary sander. I start with 80 grit and finish with 240. I finish up with some hand sanding. Some may not want to spend the time doing this but a few hours can produce enough to keep you practicing for some time. If you don't want people to see the mistakes; put them back on the belt sander and clean them again.
 

highveldt

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
201
Location
South Carolina
#9
Hi guys,

What kind of steel would you recommend to practice gun engraving?
I read on the internet about a woman learning the trade in a shop.
They gave her blocks of steel to engrave. if what she did was not good,
she would take the block to a machine shop to erase the engraving and
start over. What do you think?
Thanks
Maximus
I recall reading this lady's comments on learning to engrave at Holland shop in London. After she would fill up the top of the steel block with her engraving practice forms she would take it down to the machine shop and have the engraving taken away on the surface grinder. It make since as this grinding process would leave the plate ready for engraving again without or with only minimal polishing. Good idea and probably SOP in Purdey's, Hollands, Boss' shops.

I could have bought a good small surface grinder for $200.00 ten years ago and I have regretted not doing so ever since.

I do practical the same with thing as Holland's with a milling macine in my shop to clean away old engraving forms from the practice plate and I use 1018 or 1020 COLD ROLLED (not hot rolled) steel plates of 1/2 inch to 1 inch thickness for practice for engraving. It is generally better to go buy some 1018 cold rolled steel new (say size 1/2" x 2" x 1ft. long) from one of the Metal Supermarket type metal businesses that have sprung up all over the USA. They will cut it the length that you want and you can be assured that it is cold rolled steel. If you buy 1/2" thick plates then you can cut them to length with an ordinary hand hack saw.

When you go into one of the metal supermarket shops tell them what you are about and ask them if they believe that any 1018 cold roll short pieces are in their junk pile. If they have any there you can usually buy them for a dollar or less apiece and sometimes they will give them to you. Make your trip to these metal shop at about 11:00 am or 2:00 pm during the middle of the week when things are slow for them. Be sure to take cash to pay for this small stuff. Most of these metal supermarkets stores, don't want to fool with a credit card from the small time buyers, and I do not blame them.

I also buy steel "drops" from eBay for different projects in my shop and if you want some real world engraving practice you can buy some normalized or annealed 4140 alloy steel drops (these are the unwanted pieces that drop away from the bandsaw that cuts steel to length in a shop) from eBay. These pieces of 4140 really cut good.

Marcus Hunt in his booklet on learning to engrave Small English Scroll give good advise when he cautions against buying too soft and "sticky" steel for practice plates as the stickyness keeps one from being able to pop out the chip easily at the end of a cut. That is the reason that I use cold rolled steel.
 
Last edited:

gcleaker

Elite Cafe Member
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Jan 24, 2015
Messages
343
Location
jefferson city Missouri
#10
I go to the local hardware store or Tractor Supply and purchase their 2 or 3 inch wide flat steel stock. I then cut off a section on my band saw and clean it up on my belt sander. It is stationary sander. I start with 80 grit and finish with 240. I finish up with some hand sanding. Some may not want to spend the time doing this but a few hours can produce enough to keep you practicing for some time. If you don't want people to see the mistakes; put them back on the belt sander and clean them again.
I went to tractor supply store and bought steal, instead of sand paper I really worked on the use of draw filing and developed the skill. And when I start to sand I begin with 300 grit. This has been one of the great time savers for me.
 

tdelewis

Elite Cafe Member
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Oct 10, 2010
Messages
401
Location
Volant, PA 60 miles north of Pittsburgh
#11
I didn't think about draw filing. I have draw filed barrels to prep them. I do finish up with 320 and some times 400. I cover the back with painters tape and attach a block with hot glue so I can lock them in a vice to finish them.
 

papart1

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
May 23, 2015
Messages
390
Location
Michigan
#14
now I have found 240,320 discs from amazon that I know will cut down on plate practice time. They are on there way and I will doc and pic to my brothers and sisters the results. paps
 

jerrywh

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
912
Location
Baker City , Oregon
#15
Some years ago I went to a sheet metal shop and had them shear up some 2x3" 16ga. mild steel plates for practice plates. Result was It took a lot of work to polish them and they didn't really cut very well. They seemed sort of tough and grainy. Later I bought some practice plates from GRS. The difference was amazing. The GRS plate cut very smooth. I'm just sold on their stuff. It seems that shortcuts never pay off for me.
 

Sponsors

Top