In this article we will get a basic look at adjusting and using the GRS Graver Max. Any one of the GRS Power assist type engraving tools will be adjusted in the same basic manner. We will demonstrate with the Graver Max because I have one on my bench.
Photo 1 shows the front of my GraverMax. The lower left knob is the hand piece selector . I use a medium duty and a heavy duty handpiece on my machine, simply turn the knob to the position of the desired handpiece to match the work you are doing. The lower center knob is the highspeed handpiece speed control. This highspeed handpiece is capable of 300,000 - 400,000 rpm, which is great for light deburring, finishing, and grinding. The rectangular button on the lower left hand side is the on-off switch. On the top right we have the dial to adjust impacts per minute. Turn the dial pointer to the number of impacts per minute you prefer for the specific job. I generally set my impacts to 1800 for most of my channel setting and bead and bright cutting, for fine engraving and light bright cutting I may dial in 3000 impacts per minute. At the top and rear of the machine is a knob to adjust the intake air pressure. This adjustment is very critical for the performance of the handpiece. With your foot OFF of the foot pedal and the handpiece in one of your hands, lower the intake air pressure until the handpiece starts to vibrate.
At this point increase the air pressure to the point when the handpiece just stops vibrating. The air intake pressure is correct when, as soon as you apply a light amount of pressure to the foot pedal the handpiece starts to lightly impact. Remember, the foot pedal is not a speed control or an on off switch, but regulates the amount of forward force the handpiece delivers.
In photos 2 and 3, I am demonstrating how I cut channels in metal. After marking my channel width with a divider, I use an onglette or point graver to cut deep grooves just inside my scribe lines of the channel. Cutting the channel borders with an onglette graver keeps the channel wall sharp and straight. Notice the gold curling up in front of the graver in photo 2. I am not forcing or pushing the graver, but just guiding the point and maintaining the angle of attack with the handpiece. Cutting the deep border grooves for the channel may seem like an unnecessary extra step, because the GraverMax will push a flat graver through gold or platinum, but the edges of the channel are usually lifted up and ragged, and it is rather hard to control the direction of a flat graver cutting a deep channel.
After the deep grooves are cut along the border of the channel, use a flat graver a little narrower than the channel to cut out the material between the grooves. In photo 3, I have started cutting the channel with a flat graver and have pulled back the graver to show the .7mm deep by 2.3mm widechannel cut in one pass. It takes more forward power to cut a heavy channel than the narrow grooves I cut earlier, I must depress the pedal about 3/4 the way down to push the flat graver through this material. With a little practice, you can feel the amount of power needed for the job.
The GraverMax is ideal not only for heavy work but a lot of small detail work as well. Photo 4 shows a few details I apply with the GraverMax. At the top of photo 4 is a millgrain sample. Place a millgrain tool in the handpiece, with a little pressure slowly push and guide the millgrain tool along the millgrain path. This is much easier and safer than rolling the millgrain tool back and forth several times with a lot of down pressure, as you must do if you are using the traditional method. Lower right in photo 4 is a stippled finish. I use a steel pointed tool in the handpiece holding the tool 90 degrees to the surface with slight downward pressure guide the point over the surface to be stippled. The lower left side of photo 4 shows a beaded finish. I choose the size beading tool I need and hold firmly it to the surface and step on the foot pedal, moving the beading tool to the next bead until the area I am working on is covered with the beaded finish.
The following photos are some of my engravings from twenty three or four years ago when I had just began hand engraving.
Photo 5 is a hand made knife with a stainless steel bolster hand engraved with a stippled background.
Photo 6 is an engraving of an old ribbon on a brass practice plate.
Photo7 is the initial F on a mild steel practice plate.
The last two photos are a stainless steel “Smith & Wesson” revolver, and a stainless steel “Buck” pocket knife.
If you would like to learn hand engraving or stone setting with a power assist unit call GRS Tools at 800-835-3519. GRS tools are available at most jewelry tool supply companies.
Several times a year I receive a request to star set a stone, or multiple stones in a piece of jewelry. This last year I received more requests than usual to star set stones and feel I am brushed up on star setting so I will demonstrate my technique this month.
I used a 15mm square flat plate and a 6mm stone for this demonstration. Most stones I star set are .10ct or smaller, but to show the layout of an eight point star I decided the 6mm stone would make a better visual.
The tools I use to star set are: divider, center punch, drill bit, setting bur, straight edge, scribe, a point graver, two square gravers, one with a 90 belly and one with the belly angle ground to 130 degrees and a beading tool.
These are the basic steps to star setting weather you are setting a flat plate, half round band or domed plate. I use the divider to determine the position of the stone in photo 1.
With the mark for the stone in place I use a center punch to make a starting point for my drill bit which prevents my drill bit from walking across the surface of the piece I am working on (photo 2).
A drill bit track can be difficult to remove from some surfaces and wastes time repairing a mistake that could have been easily remedied. With the pilot hole drilled and the seat cut for the stone, I like to make sure the stone seat is level and deep enough to raise a bead against the crown of the stone (photo 3).
Remove the stone from the seat and divide the edge of the seat into however many points you want to make the star.
I will have 8 points: 4 small and 4 large to make this star, which makes a clean and easy to divide star. When I make a star with an odd number of points, I usually have all the points the same length with a bead at the base of each bright cut. Although some customers request stars with a different number of points for various reasons, the most popular seems to be the 8 point star.
In photo 5 you can see a circle scribed to mark the tip of the long points and 4 short cross lines between the circle and the seat to mark the tip of the short points. Normally, I use short light or fine guide lines, but to clarify the picture of the layout I used heavy lines.
With your divider, determine and mark the width of the beads (the short bright cuts) at the edge of the seat. Using a straight edge and scribe, scribe a line from the tip (point) to the base (wide end) of the short points. Now scribe a line from the tip of the long point to the base of the short points.
Photo 6 shows the completed layout of the 8 pointed star pattern. Make sure the star is symmetrical and all lines are at the correct angles, now is the time to make corrections if it is necessary.
Using a point graver cut a line on both sides of the beads or short points, which will make raising the bead much easier and give it a cleaner look (photo 7).
When all four short beads are cut from tip to base its time to start cutting the long points or bright cuts.
To cut the large points I use a square graver with a belly angle of 120 - 130 degrees. This prevents the cut from going too deep and will cut both angles of the bright cut with one cut and will make a very clean junction in the valley of the bright cut. These four bright cuts are what make the star stand out so you must have a very sharp and polished graver. Make sure your 120 degree graver has a mirror finish on the face and heel, this is critical for a bright cut .
In photo 8 notice the position of the graver is close to the seat edge. Start at this point and cut a straight cut right through the vertical seat edge. Next, bring your graver point back from where you started the first cut and cut right through the first cut (photo 9).
Repeat this cutting until the graver cut is as wide as the guide lines of the long point. Keep your wrist rigid and move the point of the graver in a straight line from the tip right through the edge of the seat. Use steady even pressure holding your graver at the same angle for each consecutive cut.
With the four long points cut, and the four short points roughed in, put the stone in its seat and raise the four beads with a square 90 degree graver. Start at the point and firmly push the graver forward and lift the handle to raise the bead as you move the point of the graver closer to the stone. This not only raises the bead, it bright cuts the small points at the same time. Use a beading tool of the proper size to form rounded and uniform beads. Photo10 is the finished star.