What does a Metal Engraver do?
Engravers use hand tools or machinery to cut into the surface of metal for decorative purposes. Engravers may produce original designs, as well as copying existing ones.
Methods of engraving include:
- pantograph and computer controlled machines
- hand-held pendant motors using assorted tungsten or diamond rotary burrs
- bead blasting
- traditional hand-held engraving tools.
Hand engraving is usually used for single objects, such as plates or jewellery; machine engraving is used for mass produced items, where large numbers of similar objects are given the same design, and is used particularly for hard metals such as stainless steel.
What's the working environment like working as a Metal Engraver?
Employed engravers usually work 37-40 hours a week. Self-employed engravers' hours are more flexible, depending on the amount and type of work. They may include evenings and/or weekends.
Engravers work in workshops or factories. Engraving can involve sitting, standing continuously or bending, depending on the method used.
What does it take to become a Metal Engraver?
As an engraver you will need:
- good hand-to-eye co-ordination and nimble fingers
- interest and ability in art, particularly drawing - especially for hand engraving metal - some machine metal engraving is routine and does not require any particular artistic ability
- good eyesight (with spectacles or contact lenses if worn) for detailed engraving
- patience and a methodical approach
- business skills and the ability to market and sell your work if self-employed.
Metal Engraver Career Opportunities
The number of people working in metal engraving has declined over the past few years and there is strong competition for jobs.
Employed engravers work mainly for jewellery manufacturers and silversmiths, gun makers or in engraving departments of larger companies. A number of metal engravers in London work as self employed sub-contractors.
A large proportion of metal engravers are self-employed, and many work part-time.
Most work is found in three main centres: London, Birmingham and Sheffield.