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If you are interested in engraving jewelry because you already have the artistic bent and your hands are quite steady when doing lettering, then all that’s left to do is to learn how engraving works.
Watch engraving/jewelry engraving can be picked up as a regular hobby, and you can move on to making money from it when you have mastered how it’s done, and you have accumulated the basic equipment needed for engraving metals.
What is engraving?
Engraving is the process of marring or marking the surface of metal to create a design. Usually, people have their jewelry engraved to add a name, string of words, or a date to the jewelry to commemorate an important event.
Engraving is considered a nice way to customize jewelry, and both old and new jewelries can be engraved and customized nicely. One thing you have to realize about engraving is that it is considered a permanent alteration to the metal, so you have to be careful and precise when adding marks to any kind of jewelry.
Actually, we encourage beginners to practice on cheaper metals before experimenting with silver or gold jewelry. Just developing the right dexterity for engraving takes a few weeks or months to develop, so don’t rush it.
Manual or rotary engraving tools can be used on most surfaces, from glass to wood to soft metals. However, if you are planning to engrave on crystals for instance, you may have to shift to laser engraving to get better results.
What you are really paying for when you invest in a laser engraver is the ability to create really precise marks on the surface of the gemstones minus the need for extreme elbow grease. Laser engraving is also a good choice if you’re planning to create intricate designs on glass pendants and similar jewelry.
What tools do you need for engraving watches and jewelry?
There are multiple tools you can use to make engraving easier, but the first thing that you should invest in would probably be a graver, or an engraving pen.
There are three kinds of gravers: carbon steel, HSS, and carbide. HSS gravers are considered “middle of the road” when it comes to cost and efficiency, and they’re also less likely to chip if mishandled. We recommend HSS gravers for beginners.
If you need something that’s sharper, go for carbon steel blades. In terms of durability under normal use, carbide steel gravers are best but if you don’t know how to a graver properly, they are more likely to chip.
Pair your new blade with a graver handle (metal or wood), as these are designed for quick change (a boon if you are using multiple blades to accomplish certain things while engraving metal).
While engraving metal, you will immediately notice that small metal pieces move around a lot, and this can make engraving a pain in the neck. Luckily, there are vises that are designed specifically for watch and jewelry engraving.
These vises have a solid base and are meant to clamp on to pieces of metal while you work on them.
These vises are called block ball vises and they come in a variety of builds. The most expensive ones are used for center positioning and have the most number of functions. The economy models are just simple vises where you have to perform the measurement and centering on your own.
he cost of block ball vises range from $190 to a high of $998, depending on where you are buying. Obviously the European builds that are heavier and are meant for commercial or industrial use are going to be more expensive than the ones meant for light use or DIY projects.
Are there engraving machines, too?
Yes, there are automatic tools for engraving on metal, and each one has its own pros and cons. Self-contained kits have their own large motors and cables, and are meant for prolonged use. These can be use on a variety of metals, from copper, gold, silver, steel, titanium, etc. The best thing about these self-contained units is you can easily switch blades and control the rotation of the blade itself (RPM), and you can also change the pressure on the metal while engraving.
Would it be easier to engrave using self-contained engraving machines? Yes, but the output would still depend on your artistic skills. So we recommend that you work on your artistic skills alongside your engraving skills as these two would come together to bring the best output for your customers.
If you want something that is less bulky, but will less power as a result of being less bulky, you can try vibrating engravers. Vibration engravers don’t have larger, separate motors, so this affects the power that these engravers can deliver.
If you only plant to engrave on softer surfaces like wood, steel, and softer metals, you can try your hand on these smaller engravers. Be sure to check out how many strokes per minute your handheld engraver can deliver before making a purchase.
Now if you are really serious about setting up your business, you need a commercial-grade flat jewelry engraving machine. These machines have a flat, sliding surface for engraving multiple lines of text, an adjustable, swinging arm connected to the engraver and blade, and a massive motor to deliver lots of power.
We recommend using this type of machine if you are planning to engrave objects on a commercial scale. You can also invest in a benchmate system for your engraving tools. These support systems allow you to clamp jewelry on the side of your table and apply a graver on the contours of the jewelry.
Then of course it would be a good idea to invest in stencils and sharpeners, too. Graver honing kits will allow you to re-sharpen your blades, and hone wheels will provide the right amount of sharpening for the type of blade you have at home. Sharpening fixtures will hold the graver blade in place while you run the honing wheel. Adapter kits can also be used for dual angle fixtures.