Push cutting brass
Hello learned engravers!
I am wondering if anyone out there regularly push cuts brass completely by hand? If so, I'd love to know how you avoid slips. Brass to me is extremely variable in terms of work hardening, pliability and such. Also, the brass I work on is not all that thick.
One technique I found (and I am afraid to admit) is to draw the knife graver backwards. This gives me total control of the blade and eliminates any slipping. Once this cut is done, I can usually push-cut forward into the trough I just made without as much risk of slipping. Obviously this technique would not work on steel.
Any thoughts on this? I'd love to have some tips on how to do it right. Here's the kind of work I would love to do someday:
i dont think that wil ever be "easy" in terms of long cuts but here is something that might help: shorten your gravers so that when the woodenhandle is in your palm your thumb can be on the material so that you are basicly scrunching your hand to make the cut. I dont know if that makes sinse Perhaps someone could explain it better. Graver lube is a big one to me I use kerosene mixed 50/50 with automatic transmission fluid Kendal Smith who is great " push" engraver showed me that. I learned to engrave with a air assist machine and recomend one. However on flat sufaces with sterling pushing can be faster. From the picture flat sufaces for you are not easy to find. Best of luck Griff
slow down and go faster!!!
There are a number of threads on engraving saxes on the forum if you do a search. Since the brass is thin, it seems most engravers use the wriggle-cut rocking back and forth a flat graver so the graver doesn't go too deep.
Last edited by mdengraver; 02-26-2008 at 02:53 AM.
my friend first i'll sell you my share of the brooklyn bridge ! then to preventing slips-- 2 types of pushgravers never get slips -- liars and ones who seldom ever pushgrave. sharp tools are mandatory to not eliminate- but reduce slips. the other is thru nothing short of lots of practice. to develop tool control. you must develop repeatable and consistent tool geometry. this is needed because in push graving, the feel of the tool is just as important, maybe moreso than keepin an eye on the line. when i push, my sense of feel will tell me what's going on before my eyes will. i don't know if all pushers have this sense of feel, but i do.by the way, there's a trick i learned doing a trumpet:first line the bell with a couple layers of plastic grocery shopping bags. then begin placing sausages of plasticene modeling clay inside the bell area till it is sufficiently stiff. you must use the plastic liner or you'll never get the clay out without a disaster. btw, i think it's advisable from many standpoints, for you to purchase a power hone and graver holder. this allows proper , repeatable geometry from the gitgo. no guess work. go to the grs website. or even check the forum classified.
Jdumars; There is a power hone on ebay now, as well as other power equipment. I am enclosing the ebay number for the power hone, then look at the sellers other items. 290208918354
jdumars~ I am in agreement with monk. So much of push engraving is very much the feel. Keeping your tools sharp is an obvious bit of advice. Lubrication absolutely helps in push engraving (Kendal Smith is a fantastic push engraver). What I have found in push engraving is this. To do my absolute best work, I have to make sure my wrist does not break left or right. I have to continually turn my piece into the graver and keep my wrist unbroken while cutting. I will roll my wrist to widen a cut but at the same time I will not turn my wrist as to try and help the graver turn through the metal. For me the cutting power comes from the hand that is rotating the engraving block. Once I try to transfer the power to my hand holding the graver, it's all over. As the metals increase in hardness, the more important it is for me to observe these techniques. Hope this makes sense.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Proverbs 3:27
jdumars: There is no complete solution to this problem. Brass has different alloys for different purposes and after forty years, you are still going to slip on brass. You have to be great at getting out of trouble which, might mean learning refinishing techniques (plating, and polishing). This is a necessary requirement for an occupational engraver. Otherwise you might be buying a lot of messed up merchandise you don 't want. Right Monk?
That is why they use the wriggle cut on horns or anything else on metal or shape, that might be prone to slipping. It minimizes the problem, but it doesn't eliminate it. Correctly sharpened sharp tools only aids in this. You can break or chip a tool at any time. Do the fingernail test constantly and often.
I cut a lot of brass and nickle silver. I learned from an old jewler to use "bent" gravers on such material as much as possible. The bent graver will also slip, but because of it being bent the "slip' will be less damaging. Also with a bent graver you don't have to worry about a clearance cut as much as you do with a straight tool. The bend compensates for it.
Tollerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.
and another thing ! if the tool is sharp- i mean really really sharp, and maybe you're using a lube- less force is needed to execute a cut. if less force is being used, and a slip happens to occur, ( less force equals a slightly less disaster to cover up. there are burnishing techniques to reduce slips to be almost invisible. and creative designing on the fly can, with some luck, eliminate these little buggers completely. bottom line you can learn to reduce the occurence of, but you'll never eliminate slips totally. good luck, and buy that sharpener !!
Wow, thanks everyone for such great information. I've definitely got the "wiggle cut" down. I almost never slip nowadays unless I am not paying attention to sharpening. I'm going to try some of these suggestions out and get back to you.