Engraving involves incising designs onto a hard, flat surface by cutting grooves into it using an engraver or burin. It has long been an essential component of decorative metalwork, but you can engrave various materials, including leather, wood, plastic, and even glass. Below are five essential engraving tools for beginners that are worth your investment.
A burin is a steel tool that’s quite sharp, and is used for removing chips of metal or other material. The most common gravers have a square or lozenge-shaped point. Burins consist of rounded handles shaped like mushrooms, with tempered steel shafts that come in from its handles at an angle, ending in razor-sharp cutting faces.
Engravers hold burins at about 30° to the material’s surface, using the index and middle fingers to guide the shaft while cradling the handles in their palms. A graver is one of the most fundamental tools necessary for engraving as a beginner since you need it to make engravings in metal plates which will then be used for printmaking.
2. Drypoint/ Dry tip
A dry tip is a fine and sharp steel point that’s typically more resilient than the metal you’re engraving. It’s used to scratch your copper plates with high or low pressure, depending on the engraver’s desired line intensity. This instrument’s tip is made of diamond, ruby, or steel, and is needle-shaped. The lines created by a drypoint are characteristically thin, and you can work with this tool freehand like a feather or a pencil.
Burnishers come in handy for texturing effects when engraving, so experts like The Engraving People invest in these tools to produce quality craft. You can use burnishers with one or more line fonts, and they’re excellent for making detailed logo and line work on metals.
Using burnishers, you can work on your engraving with finesse and correct carvings that aren’t too deep. You can use them to even remove carvings by vigorously rubbing the plate’s surface.
A rocker or cradle looks like a small spade with a toothed edge. A rocker’s sharp and tiny points on its cutting edge allow you to execute extended work on your plates with back and forth movements to obtain a black tint during printing. This cutting action throws up rough metal ridges called burrs. Rockers are famous for the mezzotint engraving technique.
These tools are made with high-carbon steel and usually have triangular shapes with three sharp edges. A scraper enables you to work on whites, greys, and lights and remove all burrs cut by the graver. It would be best if you also had your scraper for corrections and image-making. They’re available in varying sizes and styles, ranging from solid steel combination scrapers to wood-handled single-end scrapers.
Engraving practice plates
As a beginner, you require constant practice to refine your engraving skills over time. Therefore, engraving practice plates are essential to test tools and try new techniques in the process. Brass, copper, and cold-rolled mild steel are some metals that work best for practice plates. However, select those with some thickness so there’s no flexing or vibration during engraving.