What Are the Different Types of Metal Engraving Tools?

Carrieanne Larmore

Metal engraving tools can be classified as being either manual or mechanic. Manual metal engraving tools include the burin, flat engraver, angle tilt tool and Florentine liner. Mechanical tools are mostly used for heavy duty projects, while customized tools may be needed for specialists. Selecting appropriate metal engraving tools depends on the type of metal being engraved and the nature of the project, as well as the required output levels.

Steel needles are an essential part of the metal engraving process.
Steel needles are an essential part of the metal engraving process.

Burins, flat engravers, angle tilt engravers and Florentine liners are the most basic tools for hand engraving. The burin is the most common tool used since its shape lends to creating clean edges when engraving a variety of patterns. Flat engravers provide a fine edge, allowing the creation of detailed backgrounds, block lettering and parallel patterns. Angle tilt engravers feature a curled tip, making them perfect for designs with curling lines or ribbon shapes. Florentine liner tools consist of multiple lines at the tip, making them useful for engraving large areas at a time.

Engraving tools are commonly made of carbon steel and hardened steel.
Engraving tools are commonly made of carbon steel and hardened steel.

Industrial metal engraving machines are widely used in businesses demanding high productivity and fast output. Machines are available featuring diamond tips so that they stay sharper longer and cut more precisely. Certain types of metal can only be engraved by using a machine, such as titanium. Titanium material must be light in order for the machine to be used, and lubricant is needed to prevent burs. Using machines for engraving can limit the engraver’s ability to design creatively, since blocking complex designs can be difficult.

The material of the metal engraving tool is an important consideration when selecting a tool for a project, as it must be stronger than the metal being engraved. For instance, carbon steel tools are widely used for engraving gold and silver sterling, while tools for engraving steel must be specifically hardened. Since a dull blade can make etching difficult or impossible, the material of the tool should be easy to sharpen and maintain. For example, a carbon steel tool requires less effort to sharpen than tools made from steel.

Metal engraving tools are available in different widths and shapes to provide engravers with more control, saving them time when engraving intricate designs or finishing larger projects. Having a round, flat, or square shaped tool can aid in engraving particular shapes or shading backgrounds. Engravers doing western lettering may find that wider angled metal engraving tools make the job much easier.

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