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  1. #1
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    Apr 2017
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    Default Another home made engraving machine

    Thanks to Shaun Hughes who worked out the details for this set up and shared it on YouTube, I was able to piece this pneumatic engraver together in about 6 hours using parts acquired on eBay and scraps from around the shop. For 15 years, I have sporadically engraved flintlocks, tomahawks, and knives using the hammer and chisel method coupled with limited push engraving to add shading. I never really considered buying a pneumatic engraver because most of the long rifles that I engrave already have the inlays set in the stock and cannot be easily mounted in a ball vise so I usually engrave standing up walking around the work. Price was another factor I simply could not justify the expense of a pneumatic system given the limited amount of engraving that I do.
    The set up pictured below cost me around $100. It consists of a small 12 volt tire pump that I modified to suck and push air, a D/C to A/C converter, a speed controller, and a small 12 volt fan to keep the pump cool all of which are mounted in a plywood box. I made the hand piece on the metal lathe and designed it to fit a standard quick change tool holder. Its basically a tube with a piston and a spring in it (see expanded view). Basically the push/suck motion of the pumps piston is transferred to the piston in the hand piece via the air tube. The hand piece piston then strikes the end of the quick change tool holder which holds the graver basically creating a small hand held jack hammer. The speed controller controls the speed of the pump piston and is infinitely adjustable from zero up to speeds far too fast for engraving. The stroke length of the piston in the hand piece (which controls the impact power) can be adjusted by screwing the handle in or out. I have also made a couple of pistons of different weights to experiment with.
    I have no way to evaluate or compare this set up with other pneumatic engravers since I have never even held one in my hand, but I am amazed at how well this contraption works. It has ample power to engrave brass, mild steel, copper and silver. I dont think I would try to hog out a dugout canoe with it but it will certainly cut smooth controlled lines. The hand piece is also a lot easier to control than a plain push graver. I have only fooled around with it for a few hours but I can already tell that its going to come in handy. For me, I dont think it will replace the hammer and chisel method for laying in main design elements but I think it will be of great help when it comes to fine shading. While push engraving in copper silver or gold is easy, I have always been somewhat up tight when it comes to pushing lines in brass and mild steel. There is a lot of pent up energy there and its sometimes easy to slip. This tool will alleviate that and make it easier to consistently space shading lines. I plan to make a foot pedal or perhaps a hand control like the one John Schippers illustrates to further control the impact speed. I also plan to forge some small chisels and gouges to fit the hand piece for wood carving.
    So if you enjoy tinkering around with things take a look at Shaun Hughes YouTube channel. He has posted instructions on how to build one of these as well as a drawing of a hand piece. I think I had more fun building this than I do engraving!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Abilene TX Ruidoso NM
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    Default

    You did a very neat job of getting it all together. I may have to try to make one.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Default

    Well done! Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
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    Aug 2016
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    Slovenia
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    Default

    Hey Elvis,
    That's awesome. I also made this myself, maybe you saw my channel also on YT (Nejc Mazej). The only thing i have to make better is to keep the compresor cooled. You did it right to make the fan blow directly on the compresor. it should be perfect. I hope you can enjoy working with this machine for many years. Thanks to Shaun for helping us.
    Thumbs up!
    Enjoy engraving
    Nejc

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  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    1,767
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    Default

    so this is actually a home-made version of the original Gravermeister, which operates on 'negative' air pressure. very clever!
    Mitch Moschetti

    MRM ENGRAVING
    www.mrmengraving.com

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    washington, pa
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    i made one, maybe a year or more ago. works very nicely, but i don't actually use it to engrave. just did one for the "h of it". for the handpiece, i used an old handpiece from my gravermeister. mine cost probably 80 bucks.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Austria
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    Default

    I also have one ,I thought it was doing great when I worked with optivisor on coins , but now seeing chisels movememt under my Leica microscope I reached out for hammer and chisel,its good for beginning and for coins but now I started to engrave (really engrave not carve) other things like watch for example ,I have understood that its a bit too uncomfortable ,uncontrolable and tool doesnt help me to show my true potential especially for fine shading lines . I still recomend for first months of beginning just to get small feel when you are on budget but when you get a chance and you know that you want to continue engraving in future and do it very serioussly ,get a quality machine.its been a year since I started qith simple hand push gravers and no.magnification and even in one year I went a long way , I regret buying cheap tools and spending so much time on DIY equipment ,from one side it helped me to understand better what do I need from other thinking about making my engraving machine just lost me time I could learn how to draw.
    Few weeks ago I got massive backache from optivisor so I decided to go to bank and take a loan for Leica a60,
    Surprisingly im about to pay it off . Because my quality of work got way way better and personally I thinks thats the same case with engraving machine.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Racine, wisconsin
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    I had purchased a used Graver Mate about 10 years ago, but wanted more control so I swapped out the AC motor for a DC motor with a speed control. This gave me variable speed, but it suffered at the low end. My next thought was going all electronic so I started gathering parts together. Six months later I had a pile of parts staring at me and I see a video for what would become the Enset. This motivated me a bit, so another year later I put it all together and I now have the MacGraver, a small box that drives my GRS.hand piece I don;t get the high end range, but it will do a single pulse up to about 2k. The foot pedal was a bit challenging, but when I switched to a stronger rubber band, it all came together.

  10. #9
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    Apr 2017
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    Default Question

    Thanks for all the comments and interest. I am glad to see that there are others out there that have experimented with this type of machine. I messed around with it some more yesterday fine-tuned the hand piece and ground, hardened and tempered some custom gravers. I was able to do some incredibly precise, fine work on brass and mild steel far better than if I had tried to push these designs in with a hand graver. My question to those of you who have made and tried these types of machines and also have experience with commercial systems like GRS; is there a big difference between the two?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    washington, pa
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elvis View Post
    Thanks for all the comments and interest. I am glad to see that there are others out there that have experimented with this type of machine. I messed around with it some more yesterday – fine-tuned the hand piece nd ground, hardened and tempered some custom gravers. I was able to do some incredibly precise, fine work on brass and mild steel – far better than if I had tried to push these designs in with a hand graver. My question to those of you who have made and tried these types of machines and also have experiene the ce with commercial systems like GRS; is there a big difference between the two?
    to me, a huge difference. the compressor, powersupply ,and foot pedal are scattered in several locations. mine was not . a design flaw on my part. also-- in spite of the fact that it works well, it doesn't have the dynamics between the light and heavy settings that the store-bought toys have. a bit of fiddling with the spring could change that. since i don't use it , it really does not matter.

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