In Summary - Metal Engraver
Inscribes artwork, designs and lettering into various types of metals .
Metal Engravers typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Metal Engraver
Engravers inscribe designs and/or letters into metals including aluminium, stainless steel, brass, copper, bronze, and precious metals such as gold and silver.
Engravers decorate objects such as plaques, bowls, pieces of jewellery and clock faces. They also mark inscriptions or lettering for nameplates, trophies, cups, gifts and so on. In industry, engravers produce signs and machine labels, control panels, dials and measuring scales for equipment.
Engravers cut into flat or curved surfaces, or use techniques to raise lettering or patterns from the metal. They follow customer requirements, which can involve copying existing patterns onto objects. Highly skilled engravers, working with decorative objects, may create their own designs.
There are various techniques and methods of engraving. There are also different degrees of skill involved, ranging from machine operating to the highest levels of craftsmanship.
Hand engraving is highly skilled. Engravers use a hand engraver, which is a cutting tool that removes a fine, V-shaped sliver of metal when pressure is applied. Objects are fixed into a vice to keep them still for engraving. Some engravers work freehand, others mark out the work on the object before making cuts.
There are three main types of machine engraving:
Pantograph machines are used to engrave all types of metals (and other materials, such as plastics and glass). The object is fixed into the machine. The engraver follows a template with a type of stylus that is connected to a cutting spindle on the machine.
The engraver can set the machine to scale the engraving to different sizes and to use various letter styles. Some pantograph machines are fully automatic and the machines are becoming increasingly computerised. Engravers can use computer-aided design (CAD) to produce images, designs, lettering and so on.
Diamond milling is a type of machine engraving that involves the use of diamond cutting tools. It is used for ornamental engraving and produces a very shiny, glittering cut. The machine produces a flat, rather than a V-shaped cut. The level of skill involved is the same as required to operate the pantograph machines.
Engine turning is a separate, and highly specialised, form of machine engraving. Engine turners use hand-held power-driven cutting tools and techniques similar to the hand engraver applying the tool to the object. This requires a great deal of skill and is used on individual items, such as jewellery and precious metals.
Machine engraving is usually used for mass produced items. Hand engraving is used for single pieces. Engravers may produce original designs as well as copying old ones.
Interests - Metal Engraver
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
The skills you need vary according to the type of engraving you do. Generally, you will need an aptitude for practical craft work. Most require a steady hand. An interest in art and design is necessary and for some, creativity is essential. You need to have an eye for shape and designs.
You will need to work very carefully, so that you do not spoil or damage the objects you engrave. An eye for detail is important as is the ability to concentrate for long periods.
If you enter hand engraving or engine turning you need to be exceptionally patient. It can take several hours to make a single flawless cut and days or weeks to finish a piece of work. You need to be consistent and persistent in order to achieve the required high quality standards. Accuracy is essential.
For all types of engraving you need good eyesight, co-ordination and hand skills. Machine engravers can spend a long time on their feet; others may spend much of the day sitting.
Entry Requirements - Metal Engraver
Pay & Salary - Metal Engraver
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 36k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.