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Old 10-27-2008, 09:53 AM
airamp airamp is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Scottsdale, Az.
Posts: 684
Default Re: AirAmpís Submission: A Beginners Progress Plans, Tutors Tips, and Informational

Well Back to Laser transfers.

With all the artwork out there you have to pick a design for a practice plate, transfer it to the plate and cut it.

Sounds simple but as you saw in the Acetate Transfer technique it was harder than you thought.

New technology has made it possible to scan art work into the computer, size it erase and redraw parts of it and more.

I will go through the easiest and cheapest method I have found so far.

Laser transfer method of recently discovered by Rodstan on 5/21/08.

Here is his original link:
It only works with a laser printer and does not work well with Inkjet printers.

If you only have a inkjet printer Tom Whites method is the best for Inkjet Printer.

How to Do IT
First you have to pick and scan artwork into your computer and save it or print it from the scanner.

cut out the artwork and tape it on a clean sheet of paper. Scan it and print it again
so you have a clean copy for your scanner and to save it.

You can save it and use adobe photoshop to edit it add or take away lines and invert it for a right and left side.

Since these are one time practice plates I scan the image and print it to the printer.

If it is too big I print it again and reduce the size with the printerís software.
Like shrink it 80 percent and check it again. You can save it again when it is right.

When I have the size of my plate and like the way it looks I print 3 or 4 of them on paper. I put one away as in a file and the otherís are for making transfers.

If you are doing this with original artwork scan it, save it and print it on a acetate sheet for easier positioning and sizing on real work.

Remember the print will go down backwards (face down) so be sure you have it properly sized and made for the way you want it to come out (right or left sided).

Now that you have your artwork and it is in the correct direction and the right size and printed on sheets of paper or acetate.

Take a piece of parchment larger than the artwork you want to transfer.

You will be taping the parchment curl side up since it is normally rolled over your artwork but you must know how to tape it down.

BE SURE YOU KNOW HOW THE PAPER IS FED INTO THE PRINTER. (Long side or short side first).

HP printers have a little diagram in the printer tray. This is very important since you must tape the full leading edge of the parchment on the paper so it feeds the paper taped with parchment leading fully taped edge first.

If you do this any other way it may work but if the tape comes off in the rollers or fuser it will be a PIA to clean and fix. You will get paper/tape jams no doubt.

So Tape the leading edge full length of the parchment.

Pull the parchment tight and tape the other 2 corners down. Put it in your printer tray and scan and print your file copy to your printer or print from your saved and modified copy.

It is important that both the parchment overlay and the scan or saved copy are the same so you are double printing the parchment copy.

This is what it looks like double printed

Once the transfer is done take a letter opener and separate the parchment from the paper. The tape doesnít stick well to the parchment so this should be easy.

Preparing the plate:

Sand your practice plate with 600 grit emery paper and clean with a cotton cloth.
Spit on the plate to clean off any oils and prepare the plate. This is a old trick of die engravers. (love that).

Use one of the transfer solutions and give it a quick light one swipe coat with a cheap brush. This is Bryan Bridges Chisel Whiting.

Once tacky position your parchment paper where you want it on the plate (be carefully you only get one shot at it). Once you have it on the tacky plate put a piece of acetate over it and burnish it with a steel.

I use a jewelers burnishing tool for bending bezels around stones. The Acetate makes it easy to slide the burnishing tool on the parchment and gives a more even pressure for a complete transfer.

You can see a slight change in color from black to gray as the design is transferred. Brunish the design completely and a second time at 90 degrees to the first burnishing.

Remove the acetate cover and slowly remove the parchment with a lift peal off the plate motion.

You should have a near perfect transfer.

Let it dry a few minutes and it is ready to cut. It will not run, smudge or fade and can be handled easily with no fear of losing your transfer.

Note: Bryanís Chisel whiting and how clear the laser transfer came out. The whiting really makes it easy to see your lines and cut out any glare. This Batch of whiting is old so the transfer is not as great as it should be. We are working on the formula to solve having to mix up a batch every week or so.

How it Works

The reason this works so well is that a laser printer actually cooks small particles of plastic (toner) on to the paper. Unlike a inkjet that sprays on ink.

The laser tries to cook the toner on the parchment in the second run and the little particles actually cook together but does not stick well to the cooking parchment paper so your design is really one piece of thin plastic.

Use this method on laser printers only. If you do not have a laser printer, go to a thrift store or Good Will store and look for a Hewlett Packard laser jet printer. They are common and there are many part and toner cartridges on Ebay for all models.

If you want to use the Inkjet or need extremely high detail use Tom Whites techniques with Transfer Magic.

It is the best system out there for extremely high detail transfer.

The laser method is much cheaper and doesnít require special materials. Detail is excellent for most work. Give it a try.


To start as a beginner a simple 90 degree is all you need. Make one with a large heel for straight lines and one with a small heel for curves. Better yet is if you grind one of the 90ís from Steveís patent.

A flat chisel is the other beginnerís graver that is needed. Make some of different widths for background removal and inlaying wire. Chisel should be the width of the inlay wire but more on that later.

The reason for using a 90 degree graver, as explained, is that is that you cannot see the depth differences or uneven lines of the finished engraving as much as with a wider graver. It is true and good for a beginner. Steveís 96 degree point template is about the same as the 90 but much better in tight turns.

I have also made 100, 115, 123, flats chiselís and Lindsay point flat chisel (115 with a flat bottom added)

Here is the link to Steveís Patent point register on line and down load it and study it to get a good idea of new graver point geometry.

It is at the bottom of this link on this area of Steveís site:

There are many other modifications and graver points on the site. I do not have all the links but it would be nice to have them all in one area. I just couldnít find them all.


Well I use a faceting machine as you can see by the thread by sharpening on a faceting machine.

Tim C had a great thread on sharpening to make a stronger Lindsay point:

Very helpful and gives more insight in grinding points.

Bryan uses a Crocker style sharpener and a fine Arkansas stone.

Crocker style sharpener link of what this is

Steves link above is for the most up to date system using the Diamond Hone by Tom white and Steveís Templates. This is the quickest and easiest system out there.

Of course there is the dual angle fixture.

Hamler tool fixture here is a thread on this tool:

For those of us that have that have access to a Deckel SO (single lip) grinder these can also be used to grind precision graver points and much more. Expensive tool but great if you have to make a custom single flute end mill.

Bryan a Deckel SO uses it for some of his chisels and I am working on a fixture for this machine to hold 3/32 and 1/8 inch square blanks. I will let you know when this is done.

This is what that machine looks like:

Very expensive but if you have a shop and have one it works great.

All in all the Crocker style sharpener and stones is the cheapest and most versatile of the sharpening method but will take time to master and is not super accurate.

Steveís Templates and coupled with Tom Whiteís Diamond hone is the both accurate and quickest way to sharpen and keep sharp gravers compared to all the other systems. It is limited by the templates but more are being added by Steve and otherís all the time.

Hammer and Chisel

Hammers are 1 inch, 1 ľ and up. The lighter the hammer the finer the engraving lines can be. You can use up to a shoemakers hammer for big (1/4 inch chisels) and hog out a lot of material.

These are cheap, but get a chasing hammer since the handle is a little springy and it has a flat face. A few different weight hammers is a good thing to have

We made a chisel in Bryanís class it is a classic McKenzie Bridges type chisel. Here it is next to the modern way of engraving (The Classic).

Die Sinking Chisels (engraving chisels) can be made or bought at Brownellís site, but I found the source and you can save some money.

You should have some chisels and push gravers added to your tools since not all tools do the same thing or have the same control (or you donít have the experience yet).
I have to say I have grown very fond of the hammer and chisel over push gravers. Much easier to control for a beginner and with the proper guidance you can really do some amazing things.

Thank you Bryan Bridges for introducing me to the H&C.

Anyway here is the link for die sinking chisels at a great price:


I cannot due better than Paulís tutor on making punches.

I have make punches with Bryan and I can add a few helpful hints.

Here is Paulís tutor for making punches:

Great Job Paul on the tutor.

I could add that the punch should be rounded on the striking end so you cannot hit it unevenly. When hardening it hold the flame lower as in the tutor when tempering it. Too close to the tip and it can overheat easy and ruin the punch.

Before hardening tap the punch on a course stone and clean it with a wire brush to get any stones out before hardening. This prevents the punch from slipping when struck by have some texture to it and it also slightly rounds the sharp pattern.

Plates to Date (as of 10/22/08):

After making the McKenzie transfer and cutting it I cut more curves on the plate.

Turned the plate over and set the airgraver for 10 lbs and short stroke.

Here are the light cuts of more curves for practice:

And another back of the line practice plate for more practice:

The 10 lbs and short stroke helped get more control of the airgraver and the practice gave me more experience of ďriding the bicycleĒ feel of the airgraver and hand position for depth control.

I was ready to try an English scroll plate with a little more power.

I used the laser transfer technique to do the transfer:

Here are the first results of a plate that had a completed in mid September.

I am still cutting line depths inconsistent as seen and messed up (slips). The grizzly and the turntable works better than the ball vise for the curves. The reason is that I donít have to reposition the plate in the ball vise to get to center for curves. I only have to move the grizzly to center of the turntable and cut again.

I did some smaller English scrolls (more practice) on a plate:
The one to the right was first, then the left. I was getting a chop to the cut with the airgraver set low pressure and short stroke and discovered that when sharpening I was putting pressure on the tip when grinding the heel.

This caused the back of the heal to be lower than the front and got heel drag.

Other reason for the heel drag was suggested by members of the forum here:

My chuck in the faceting machine was changed to be more stable and NO PRESSURE WAS PUT ON THE POINT FOR GRINDING THE HEEL, along with the helpful suggestions of the forum members I cut the third scroll on the plate.

The chop disappeared.

Here is the third scroll cut:

Some improvement can be seen in the curves, depth and smoothness but still not there yet.

Next will be the plate pictured. I shot this through the scope as SVD suggested in Katherine Plumer scrim tutor and it worked.

This is the one of the previous plates reversed with Photoshop I will cut it next.

The one laser transfer section (in this thread) will be cut after the scope cut. This one has back round removal.

I will post the next plates when they are cut so more are to come stay tuned.
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