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How to hold the graver

Place the handle in the palm of the hand. It should not go in the middle of the palm, but down a little in the meat area of the palm. The pinky should wrap around the handle with the tip of the pinky resting on the bottom flat of the handle. To help demonstrate the placement, begin by placing the handle in the hand, leaving the hand mostly open. Place the handle in the lower part of the palm, and wrap the pinky around the handle, but hold the tool with nothing but the pinky. Position the handle in the pinky grip so that the point comes out between and near the index finger and thumb. Next, grasp the graver at the point with the index finger and thumb. The tip of the ring finger should ride on the bottom side the AirGraver right next to the handle.

Side view of grip.
The PalmControl AirGraver is held the same as the foot pedal AirGraver. Run the tubing up over the wrist as shown above to keep it out of the vise.

Bottom view of grip

Placing the graver down to the work

When placing the point down to the work, there are two choices. One is to first place both the thumb and index finger down and then slowly place the point down on the work. This provides a steady tripod rest. The other choice is to only place the thumb down and use it alone to steady the hand and to set the graver's point where wanted. It is helpful to let the thumb stay on the engraving surface. Let it drag along. If using the index finger on the surface too, it may also be used to drag along the surface. The main reason for dragging the thumb and/or index finger is to help catch the hand if the graver begins to come up out of the cut when not expected. This is particularly helpful for beginners.

Starting the cut

With the point resting on the surface of the practice plate, feel for the best angle of attack. To discover this, push the graver by hand with an angle of attack that is too low. With a low angle, the graver will just slide over the surface on the back of the heel of the point. As it is sliding, slowly raise the angle until the point begins to dig in. This angle is the correct angle to begin a cut. This angle is the same as the ground heel angle. Next, move the point back to where the cut is to be started, and use the angle that was just determined. For the PalmControl, the tool will automatically begin softly impacting when the angle of attack is attained. For foot pedal engraving, slowly press on the foot pedal. At the beginning of a cut, a higher angle of attack is needed to dive to the depth desired. When this depth is reached, level the angle of attack out to maintain this depth.

If right handed, place the left hand on the base of the vise. Use it to steady and turn the vise. Warning: Beginners sometimes place their left hand on the practice plate, using it to steady and turn the vise. Do not rest the left hand on top of the vise! If the left hand is on the practice plate in front of the graver, the point could skip out of the cut and puncture the left hand very deeply. So, keep that hand down on the base of the vise!

The three most useful techniques for beginners

1: Angle of attack (keeping balance). The angle of attack is the key to keeping the graver in a cut at a certain depth. The angle of attack is similar to learning to maintain your balance when riding a bike. Move the handle of the graver up to go deeper (steeper angle of attack), and move the handle down (less steep) to go shallower or come out of the cut. To hold a continuous depth (and width) of cut, the angle of attack is slightly modified continually similar to the way one continuously and unconsciously moves the bicycle handle bars to keep balance. With a few hours of practice, most people can pick this up. With more practice, it becomes second nature.

2: With foot pedal engraving, getting the hang of using the throttle pedal to vary the speed will need to be learned. Learn to NOT hold back when slowing down. Maintain constant pressure holding the graver in the cut, and control the cutting power with the pedal. The point will chatter around in the cut if the engraver holds back.To slow down or stop, let up on the foot pedal. With the PalmControl AirGraver, this problem is taken care of and is more intuitive. Engraving with the PalmControl is analogous to scooping out ice-cream with a spoon. If you want to go deeper, hold the spoon up steeper and push it in harder. If you want to come out of the ice-cream, lower the spoon angle of attack, and use less and less push pressure as it comes up closer to the surface. The PalmControl takes care of the impacting power automatically for the depth of cut being taken, so that one may concentrate on what the hand is doing rather than also having to think about what the foot is doing.

3: With foot pedal engraving, you must learn to not push the graver point down too hard, or push forward too hard. Too much of either will raise a burr on the sides of the cut, and generally the cut will not be as clean. Let the impacts do the work.

The following description is not the proper way to engrave, but it may be useful to help think through why pushing hard is not necessary. Hold the tool with only the thumb and index finger on the handle. Rest the point against the practice plate at the angle of attack that it will just begin digging in. Press on the foot control slowly. Right away, starting moving the handle up and down to find the balance to get to (and stay at) the depth desired. Only push forward enough to hold the point of the graver in the cut, and no more. To slow down, let up on the pedal, but do not hold the graver point back. To come out of the cut, change the angle of attack to a lesser angle. Holding the tool with only two fingers will make it impossible to push down on the point. It will be possible to push forward, which is necessary to a small degree to keep the point in the cut. The mistake of pushing down or causing an excessive forward push is what will cause the worst kind of raised burr along one or both sides of the cut. In addition, much tool control is lost with excessive pushing.

That said, there is a certain amount of forward pressure required to hold the graver in a cut. This pressure is relative to the depth of cut, and it is this forward pressure that the PalmControl AirGraver uses to work automatically.  A shading cut with delicate impacting will not require much pressure to keep the graver snug in the cut., In a deeper cut, however, the impacting is more severe, and in order to keep the recoil of the impacts within the cut, more pressure is required. The idea is to keep the graver snug in the cut so that the impacts can do their work. But again, any more pressure than what is required to hold the graver snug in a cut can result in a raised burr along the side of the cut, and less control of the tool. The PalmControl prevents one from using too much or too little pressure, and therefore helps teach the amount of pressure to use, since it uses this pressure curve for operation.


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