Graver Preparation

For a while I've been wanting to experiment with some new stone setting techniques, like bead setting. It requires at least one graver - a sort of small chisel for metal. Gravers come in a multitude of different shapes, such as "round", "flat", "onglette", and so on. This refers to the shape of the cutting face, which defines the type of groove they cut in the metal. A round graver will leave a round-bottomed U-shaped groove, for example. An onglette cuts a groove like a V with its sides curved in slightly. Gravers also have a size associated with them, and it usually describes the width of the cutting face.

Here's a very descriptive image stolen from Ganoksin, an excellent jewellery website. It illustrates the different shapes well.

 different graver shapes
a) onglette (or spitzstick) graver
b) wider pointed graver
c) knife graver
d) facet graver
e) oval graver
f) flat graver with wide rib
g) flat graver with small rib
h) round graver
i) round graver with small rib
j) line graver

I was a bit hazy on what I needed, so I guessed at a no. 8 flat,  no. 4 round and no. 2 onglette, all made by Vallorbe and sold by Cookson Gold. I really hate things with numbers instead of real sizes. Here, mercifully, the mapping seems quire straight-forward. No. 8 has a 0.8mm wide flat, the no. 4 has a 0.4mm diameter round portion, and the no. 2 tapers to a point, so the size must reflect the sharpness of the taper. Can't be bothered to look it up on the Cookson site, but I think it might have some sort of explanation.

There is an entire universe of gravers available, particularly for engraving, but for ordinary jewellery work, such as stone setting, it seems you can get away with a few handy ones. 

Gravers come with the edge profile accurately ground, but no handle and are not sharpened ready for use. This is to allow the user to trim them to fit their hand, and choose the cutting angle they want for a particular job. I read about the preparation process on a couple of sites, including the excellent Ganoksin link above.


The graver as it arrives 

Grinding down the tang to fit the handle 

 Drilling out  the handle to fit the tang

 Hammering the handle on

 Marking the graver to fit my hand

 Snapping off the unwanted portion

 Grinding away the back of the graver. This is done to reduce the area of the cutting face, making it quicker to sharpen. Also it makes it easier to see past the end of the tool during use, and allows it to reach tight spots. I also ground the cutting face to a rough cutting angle, 40 degrees perhaps.

 The finished graver ready for sharpening. I forgot to take a photo of the sharpening phase. Just oil and a fine whetstone - pretty straight forward.

 The finish of the cut the graver leaves in the metal depends entirely on the finish of the graver's cutting face. I polished it to a mirror finish with a silicone polishing wheel. I was careful to avoid polishing off the cutting edge. A better solution may have been a bit of rouge on a piece of hard wood, used like a whetstone.

I then repeated the process for my flat graver, as it would be used in the bead setting procedure. The onglette has been left for a rainy day.

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