Tutorial on how to hand engrave

Written by rebecca suzanne delaney
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Engraving is a process of cutting metal. Engravers use a steel tool called a \"graver\" to cut designs into metal. Engraving is used to decorate jewellery, guns and household items. Most metals can be engraved. Man used engraving to show both ownership and power. You can find examples of elaborately engraved guns and other arms, as well as gold and silver items in museums throughout the world.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Sketch paper and pencil
  • Acetone or iron
  • Distilled water
  • Metal to engrave
  • Gravers
  • Engraving block, shellac stick or vice
  • Clamp
  • Grinding stone
  • Grinding wheel or flex shaft (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Sketch the design you want to engrave with pencil on a piece of paper.

  2. 2

    Copy the design onto a piece of white paper using a laser (but not inkjet) printer. Place the paper copy side down against the metal. Apply either heat from an iron or acetone to the back of the paper. The ink will affix to the metal, leaving an imprint of your design. Touch up the transferred design using a permanent black felt-tip pen.

  3. 3

    Secure the metal before you begin engraving using an engraving block, shellac stick or vice.

  4. 4

    Check to be sure the graver tip is sharp and polished. Test the graver on scrap metal before you begin your project. Successful engraving requires a keen, precise graver edge. Clamp the graver and rub the tool against a grinding stone covered with a light coat of oil to sharpen. Hasten the sharpening process by using a grinding wheel or flex shaft. Repeated sharpening is often needed when engraving.

  5. 5

    Cut the outline of the design in the metal by sliding the graver across the metal. Do not scoop the metal. Vary the width of the lines your cut by rolling the graver on its side as you cut. Do not try to vary your line by digging deeper with the graver. Cut curves and circle counterclockwise.

  6. 6

    Change gravers as you work to add shading to your design. Stop from time and sharpen your gravers, as needed.

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