Hand engraving is a process where a hardened and sharpened steel object, also known as a graver gets pushed through the surface of a metal. To engrave, you have to get the best graver that can easily fit in your hand. It should also use air to drive the point. Although gravers come in different shaped tips, the square V cut point is the most desirable option.
The Process of Metal Engraving
The process can be done in three methods; using a lightweight hammer and chisel, by hand pressure or using a pneumatic hammer that is air-driven. The latter combines the other two techniques with the graver getting ground to a pointed shape that adheres to very accurate angles. The angles are set to assist the graver to properly penetrate the metal surface and move forward continuously, spiralling the metal in front of the face of the graver. A small furrow is normally left behind.
The angle at which you hold the engraver and its shape will determine how the furrow shape will be. You can continue to change the angle of the engraver during the process, which will result in some thick and thin graduations. If you are using the square engraver and one of its corners go through the metal, a V-shaped furrow will be formed. You are, however, not restricted to the square-shaped engraver. Go with your preference when buying.
The Chisel and Hammer Method
If you opt to use a hammer and chisel, you will need to use both your hands. One hand is supposed to hold the graver while the other one delivers some light hammer impact against the chisel to drive it forward through the metal. The process is similar to engraving a piece of wood using a chisel and hammer.
The Push Graver Method
The graver is normally fixed to a wooden handle that is hand-held, in this method. With the graver remaining stationary, you hold the metal to be engraved firmly and then feed it into the tip of the engraver. You can also rotate it if you desire to get a curved or circular line. If you want a straight line, push the graver forward using a single hand pressure. With each method, you will need to rotate the vice or any other similar holding device to keep the item you are engraving in one place.
If you are new to metal engraving, you can use a softer metal to practice on. This will help you avoid damaging a precious metal. You can check online for more shapes to engrave and once you are comfortable with your skill, proceed to engrave a heavier metal. For the best results, it is wise to seek the help of a professional as the results will be as per your requirements.