Full Version: Dead or Alive, Diamonds can be your Best Friend (Sticky)

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1]
 16 May 2004

You've heard the saying "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." Well, to engravers who mark trophy plates and award plaques, not to mention giftware; diamonds are just as good a friend.

In the "diamond drag" or "scratch" engraving method, as it's sometimes called, a non-rotating industrial diamond graver is crucial to creating fine-line engraved letters and designs.

When engraving a lacquer-coated substrate, such as standard trophy plate/plaque stock, a new or sharp cutter (diamond) is paramount. If the diamond tip is dull, instead of piercing the lacquer coating and creating a smooth cut, the dull cutter can break or chip the lacquer coating around the immediate area of the character or design being engraved.

Ordinarily, the letter looks fine to the naked eye, however if the engraved image is "oxidized" (darkening of engraved image utilizing a special acidic solution) the irregularities in the image become noticeable and very unattractive. At this point, a new diamond graver becomes necessary.

Now here's the interesting part of the story. Although the "dull" diamond is useless for engraving plates where oxidation of images is necessary, they can be very useful and even preferable to a "new" diamond in certain situations.

A couple of applications where "dull" gravers are preferable:

Engraving of Armatale (cast aluminum) or pewter items. The "new" graver has a tendancy to create a very rough "burr" while engraving, whereas the flatter point of the dull tool creates a smoother image, both to the eye and touch.

Another desirable application for the "dull" tool is in the engraving of stainless steel items. Engraving stainless with a new cutter doesn't create a burr, in fact engraving stainless steel doesn't create any real depth at all. The engraving of stainless seriously shortens the life span of the "new" cutter. I keep "dead" gravers around specifically for the purpose of engraving watch backs and stainless travel mugs, for example, in order to preserve the sharp tool.

Whether your diamond gravers are "Dead or Alive" they all have their place in your engraving business.

David "The Stunt Engraver" Lavaneri
DGL Engraving
Port Hueneme, CA

EDITED: 16 May 2004 by DGL

From: JayBeeOz [#2]
 18 May 2004
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1] 18 May 2004

Hi David
I use 'dead' drag tools with the motor on. Especially when doing coated brass or Anodised Aluminium Pet Tags, The rotation stops the chipping effect you spoke about, and because the tool is blunt, it doesn't cut as deep as a true rotary diamond, and I find that I get a better mark on stainless than just dragging alone.
I have been advised against using non rotating Diamonds in this way as they can shatter, and apart from the danger of scratching a job, I seem to have an endless supply of blunt ones, and I have never had one shatter...yet.


From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#3]
 18 May 2004
To: JayBeeOz [#2] 21 May 2004


I have a friend who subscribes to "spinning" the diamond. It does create an unusual effect.

I'll have to experiment with that technique.

Thanks for the tip :-)

David "The Stunt Engraver" Lavaneri
DGL Engraving
Port Hueneme, CA

From: Cindy (CINDYM) [#4]
 21 May 2004
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#3] 22 May 2004

We use diamond burnishers on a daily basis and would not be without them. I use them on aluminum, brass, acrylic, glass - all kinds of materials.
I noticed that I needed a new .005 diamond burnisher, and was excited to buy and receive a new one. I forgot that new diamond burnishers are not so great on acrylics, and burnished a logo with the new burnisher that had the logo turn out looking extremely mushed. I hated to toss the piece I ruined, but used the old, dull, diamond on the new piece and it looked excellent when completed.
I, too, will be keeping a stock of the old on hand, and will use them on acrylic definitely rather than my new burnishers from now on.

From: Harvey only (HARVEY-ONLY) [#5]
 21 May 2004
To: Cindy (CINDYM) [#4] 24 May 2004

On acrylic it may pay to turn down the spindle speed to reduce the heat produced.

Also when burnishing acrylic, a coolant will help a lot.


From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#6]
 22 May 2004
To: Cindy (CINDYM) [#4] 24 May 2004


It's funny. Sometimes, when I'm engraving for Nordstrom, I'll have to engrave a stainless steel watch back. Occasionally, the customers are watching.

I'll tell the customer that I'm going to change to a "Special" cutter.

What I don't tell them is, I don't want to decrease the lifespan of my newer cutters and I'm using a "dead" cutter.

Still get great results on the watch backs. :-)

David "The Stunt Engraver" Lavaneri
DGL Engraving
Port Hueneme, CA

From: GBengraver [#7]
 1 Nov 2004
To: Cindy (CINDYM) [#4] Unread

I didn't realize you could use diamond burnishers on acrylic.
Do you mean sheet stock or acrylic award pieces (3/4")?

From: Andrew [#8]
 25 Jan 2007

I use faceted diamonds a lot to mark stainless steel. I have been looking around for someone to relap these as they do dull quite quickly because of the material.

I have found one company who can do this for me. The price quoted is about 40% of the cost of a new diamond.

In your experience will relapping a diamond be just as good as a new one? Any ideas on how many times these can be relapped.

Thanks in advance for any advice


From: Harvey only (HARVEY-ONLY) [#9]
 26 Jan 2007
To: Andrew [#8] 26 Jan 2007

I think Bruce Diamond does relaps.

The only problem with relapping is if it is a big bit like .040. It may not have enough diamond to relap. Just tell them, in advance, to relap to the largest possible size, or maybe .030 if it gets too small.

I used to use Mitchell Tool, a resharpening service that also sold Bruce Diamond bits. He is out of business for a few years, unfortunately.

From: Andrew [#10]
 26 Jan 2007
To: Harvey only (HARVEY-ONLY) [#9] 26 Jan 2007

Thanks Harvey

I am in the UK and have so far only found one company who may be able to help. I will give them a go with one of my 'deads' to see. it will be a good saving over the course of a year if it works for me.

From: cadman (MGDESIGNS) [#11]
 26 Jan 2007
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#1] 26 Jan 2007

As a hand engraver, the primary thing to remember is what ever the finish of the graver will be directly translated into the material being engraved. This also applies to "scratch" machine engraving. Us hand engravers may spend hours shaping a graver to be just perfect, and it will cut gorgeous lines; and as soon as chip occurs we notice. The engraved lines change character, and the tool reacts differently. But we are connected directly to the cutter.

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#12]
 26 Jan 2007
To: cadman (MGDESIGNS) [#11] 26 Jan 2007

Judging by your profile, you're one of the younger hand engravers. :-)

Thank you for the input.

Is there a web site, or photos, where we can see examples of your work?

EDITED: 26 Jan 2007 by DGL

From: AL (SUBLIAL) [#13]
 27 Jan 2007
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#12] 27 Jan 2007

David, Being a hand engraver myself I went to his profile immediately for the same reason you did. I was one of the youngest in N.J. except for one fellow I taught and he ended up at the US Mint.
I am going on 69 years young.
AL La Costa

From: Engravin' Dave (DATAKES) [#14]
 27 Jan 2007
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#12] 27 Jan 2007


David Takes
Expressions Engraved

EDITED: 7 Aug 2010 by DATAKES

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#15]
 27 Jan 2007
To: AL (SUBLIAL) [#13] 27 Jan 2007


Do you remember Richardson's. They were active in the awards industry and introduced the use of calligraphic tips, on computerized engraving systems, which imitated hand-engraved calligraphy on metal.

They also had a correspondence course in hand engraving.

I believe they were in Berkely Heights, NJ.

I think they were also involved in the embryonic stages of Xenetech.

From: AL (SUBLIAL) [#16]
 27 Jan 2007
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#15] 27 Jan 2007

Dave, Yes we lived one town apart and that is who had the laminator. we were competitors but they were mostly in the awards business and I was mostly in jewelry and silver awards.
I engraved for 22 years by hand and so did Doug.
Small world.
AL La costa

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#17]
 27 Jan 2007
To: AL (SUBLIAL) [#16] 27 Jan 2007


Where are they now? As active and as innovative as they were in the A&E industry, they disappeared from sight almost overnight.

Of course, overnight was at least a couple of decades ago.

From: AL (SUBLIAL) [#18]
 27 Jan 2007
To: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#17] 27 Jan 2007

Dave, I haven,t seen them in 30 years. It wasn,t a happy ending for them. That is a long story.
AL La Costa

From: Stunt Engraver (DGL) [#19]
 27 Jan 2007
To: AL (SUBLIAL) [#18] 29 Jan 2007


Sorry to hear that.

From: Fordy (CENTRAL) [#20]
 28 Jan 2007

John, I must agree with you, I run a bussiness in Bendigo Australia, & have found its gives me a better result spinning a blunt diamond cutter at about half the normal speed gives you a great result on, anadised aluminium, stainless steel, s/s mugs & drinking flasks, even sterling silver bracelets the engraving dosn't wear off & the engraving stands out, just dont make a mistake its harder to buff off! I've just registered on this sight, a mate of mine Baz told me about it! I'm heading off next week to the States & I'll be at the ARA from the 20th Feb.
Seeya there Glenn (Fordy)

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