Tool List for Beginners


Chief Administrator & Benevolent Dictator
Staff member
Nov 6, 2006
Covington, Louisiana

Many Cafe members who are experienced engravers contributed to the tool lists below which can serve as a guide as to what's needed to setup a basic workbench for hand engraving. You can spend a little by using traditional hand tools, or spend considerably more if you prefer the latest and greatest pneumatic handpieces. Most will agree that the learning curve is steeper engraving with hammer & chisel and push gravers, but much of the finest engraving in the world is still being done with traditional hand tools, so keep that in mind.

There are endless combinations of tool choices, and every engraver has her or her favorites and recommendations. Hopefully the information below will point you in the right direction and give you a place to start. If you're serious about our art, spend time reading our forum. It contains a tremendous wealth of information contributed by the rock stars of the engraving world. You'll undoubtedly have questions, and you are welcome and encouraged to post them in our main forum. We're here to help.


  • Each of the startup lists below should include a workbench, lighting, and a proper chair. See our WORKBENCH THREAD for ideas and to see what our members use. Twin bulb fluorescent task lights with flexible arms have been used by engravers for many years.

  • An engraving class will greatly reduce the learning curve and get you up to speed very quickly.

  • Spend some time browsing The Engraving Glossary for photos and detailed explanations on most things pertaining to our art.

The following books and video are recommended by our members:

Art of Engraving by JB Meek - It was the springboard for many of today's hand engravers. Some of its information may be a bit outdated, but it's still worth having.
Engraving Historic Firearms By John Schippers - Modern book containing many how-tos. Highly recommended by many members.
Design books by Ron Smith and Lee Griffiths
Video on hand sharpening gravers
Hammer & chisel and sharpening demo - Learn to engrave with minimum startup costs.



Sketch pad & pencils
Chasing hammer
2 square graver blanks
1 wooden or steel chisel handle
1 mushroom type hand graver handle
Medium and fine whetstone combo
Copper, steel, and brass practice plates
Bench vise

UPGRADES: Rotating engraver's vise, Optivisor, stereo microscope, sharpening fixture or template



Sketch pad & pencils
Ngraver flex shaft handpiece (requires Foredom type motor) or GRS System 3 (requires air compressor)
2 square graver blanks
Medium and fine whetstone combo
Copper, steel, and brass practice plates
Bench vise

UPGRADES: Rotating engraver's vise, Optivisor or stereo microscope, sharpening system or templates



Sketch pad & pencils
Basic system by GRS, Lindsay, or Enset (see their websites for basic models and prices)
Air compressor
2 square graver blanks
#40 flat graver
Rotating engraver's vise
Sharpening system or templates
Copper, steel, and brass practice plates
Stereo microscope w/ring light

UPGRADES: Centering vise or turntable base, silent air compressor, additional square graver blanks and additional flat graver sizes