Surface Engraving (including Burnishing and Diamond Drag)
Burnishing is a surface marking technique intended for coated metals – usually lacquered brass where the coating is removed to expose the bare metal. It is a method of rotary engraving on metals that tends to bridge the gap between diamond drag (scratch engraving) and routing.
The most common application is on the brass plates or trophies and plaques. Burnishing can also be done on materials other than brass. However, much of the success or failure depends on the hardness of the material. Since burnishing is a surface marking technique, it is critical that the tip of the burnishing tool does not penetrate the surface of the material by an appreciable amount.
The tool used for burnishing is called a “burnisher” which is a rotating tool that is used in a motorized spindle. It is usually a carbide or carbide-tipped tool that is ground with four facets. Two of the facets form an angled chisel edge on the center of the tool.
Since the purpose of burnishing is to remove the coating from the surface a the material, the key to achieving successful results lies in the amount of downward pressure that is exerted on the tool. A burnishing tool is not a cutter and if too much pressure is applied, the tool will be forced into the material resulting in a rough, ragged stroke. Ideally, the tip of the tool should “float” over the surface with only enough pressure to remove the coating without digging into the metal.
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