Are you interested in learning how to engrave metal by hand? Ideal for precision work and detailed jewellery, hand engraving metal is a great technique used by many jewellers. Whether you’re learning how to engrave silver by hand, or another alloy of choice, our handy guide will give you all the tips and tricks you need.
What is jewellery engraving?
Before learning how to engrave metal by hand, it’s important to understand the basics of the technique and what it does. The term “engraving” can be defined in one of two ways:
- An engraving is a picture or design that has been cut into a surface.
- An engraving is a picture that has been printed from a plate on which designs have been cut.
The history of jewellery engraving
The history of engraving can be traced as far back as Roman times. Traditionally, it was used to create images on metal plates or wooden blocks which were then used for printing. It was used to decorate metal objects, including jewellery, providing texture, imagery and most commonly, lettering to pieces which would otherwise have been plain.
What is hand engraving?
We’re run through what jewellery engraving is, but more specifically, what about hand engraving? This is typically carried out using shaped steel cutters with a sharpened edge, which are mounted into a wooden handle. The cutters themselves are supplied in extra-long lengths, so that they can be cut down to suit the person using them. The ‘tang’ (pointed handle end) is not as hard as the jewellery engraving tool itself, and is intended to be snapped off to create the ideal length. This rough end should be ground down and inserted into a wooden handle ready for use during the hand engraving jewellery process.
Find out how to engrave by hand below.
How to engrave at home using hand engraving tools
Jewellery engraving designs can be drawn directly onto metal or transferred using a variety of methods.
Here is a quick step-by-step guide on how to engrave metal by hand:
- Take a metal or jewellery engraving blank in the shape of the piece you are designing.
- Draw or stamp your initial design onto the blank.
- Start to gently scratch off the design with your hand engraving jewellery tool.
Top tip: If you accidentally mark your metal, simply polish it off by hand or machine.
- Compare your jewellery engraving design to the original and continue to touch up until you reach the desired finish.
- Finish off your piece as usual.
As you start to trace your first line, your hand engraving tool should be pushed down and forward with even pressure. The process is repeated until the required depth of each cut is reached.
Your hand engraving tools should be held at an angle which is neither too deep nor too shallow, but, only experience and practice will help you when learning how to engrave metal by hand. You’ll find that there is a variety of tools available for jewellery engraving. For beginners, it’s best to use more basic jewellery tools for example, a v-shaped graver or knife graver, for hand engraving metal.
Different types of hand engraving tools
Choosing the right too for the job is key to learning how to engrave by hand. Here are some of the steel hand engraving tools you can use to ensure a high-quality finish, for hand engraving metal.
- Scraper – used to scrape away the metal surface to clean it.
- Spit stick – used to cut fluid lines.
- Scorper – used to cut and carve larger areas when hand engraving metal. Available in a range of different profiles: flat, round edge, oval, onglette and more, each producing a shaped cut.
- Graver – used to cut lines that swell or shrink in the metal, depending on the angle used. Used in stone setting and jewellery engraving, and available in a range of differently shaped profiles, including knife, chisel, square, diamond, flat edge, round edge, oval and more
Mechanical jewellery engraving tools
Are you looking for an alternative to hand engraving jewellery, that might be a little bit faster? Ideal for bulk designs and expert jewellery makers, steel burrs can be utilised in a rotary drill, pendant motor or micro-motor to achieve fine detail on flat surfaces. They’re particularly good for glass engraving and softer metals such as gold and silver. If you’re interested in this method of jewellery engraving, take a look at our guide to burrs to learn how to use different types of burrs, and more.
And that’s how to engrave by hand! Ready to start hand engraving jewellery? At Cooksongold we have everything you need for precise jewellery engraving, which can be used to add unique and intricate engravings to your jewellery making projects. Shop online and browse our range of hand and electric engraving tools today