A guide to mastering wheat pattern engraving
By Joel McFadden
With its vintage, handmade look, the running wheat pattern is one of the most common ornamental engraving styles in jewelry, especially on rings. In addition to being popular, the pattern is also a great place to start when you’re learning to do engraving. To practice engraving this pattern, you’ll need a copper plate, #40 flat graver, #3 onglette graver, dividers, and a mechanical pencil.
1. I recommend practicing the technique on a copper plate. Begin by sanding the surface of the plate. You can use either fine 3M graded sandpaper or a Scotch-Brite pad to abrade the surface so it’s easier to mark with a pencil. This abrasion will also cut down on reflections, making it easier to work. Using dividers, mark border lines that are 3 or 4 mm apart down the length of the plate. We’re using this measurement because it is the typical width of a ladies band or shank.
2. With an onglette graver, cut the border lines. Aim to cut each line with one smooth cut; this may require several passes. Next, use a pencil to mark cross lines between the borders. The cross lines should be the same distance apart as the two border lines so that you create a length of squares. These squares will determine the length of the V cuts as well as the size of the pattern.