Cronite's wonderful Engraving Machines
UPDATED August 8, 2014:
You may never have seen or heard of a Cronite engraving
machine. There are two models - the Universal model,
and the Zero model. Some of them have a fine indexing table movement attachment (for ruling closely spaced straight or wavy lines).
Univeral model can produce vertical or italic (sloped) lettering from
vertical masters. The Zero model will not do this, but it can reduce to
infinity: it can take a letter master 2-1/2" tall,
and reduce it to ZERO height. (Both models always produce work that is
smaller than the size of your master, and the degree of reduction that will be produced is decided by the operator, up to the limit of what the machine can do. But the Zero machine can
reduce to a greater degree than the Universal model.)
You can sometimes find these wonderful machines in old engraved stationery
printing shops, idle and possibly for sale, if you ask. Start by
looking in the Yellow Pages for the bigger cities near where you
live. These machines are also sometimes available "as is," or factory reconditioned, from The Cronite Company, Inc., of Parsippany NJ, at prices considerably below the cost of a new
So far as I know, any parts needed to refurbish either model are available from The Cronite
Company, such that they can be brought back to good-as-new operating
it would be wise to phone Cronite* to confirm this before deciding
to buy a used machine from a printing shop. Used machines will typically require a thorough
clean up. Mine did, when I got it, and it came out looking very
nice, as you can see in the photos below.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss how to acquire one of these wonderful old machines.
*(My phone number, and Cronite's phone
number, are also given just below the second photograph
on this page.)
Most of what appears below is what I wrote here in May of 2006 or earlier:
Cronite engraving machines
to do the finest engraving imaginable. (The US Mint uses
them.) The design has evolved
over about the last 100 years
or so. They
are manually operated, completely non-electric, and do not use a
(Click on the photo to see a
These machines allow a duffer to produce
results that in some cases even a master engraver could not do.
Anything you can do as a line drawing -
face (lettering style) you like, a graphic design, a logo, a drawing of
an animal or a boat or whatever - can be turned into a master,
and used with one of these machines to produce a reduced sized
The machine scratches your design down
through a waxy resist to bare
metal. After you have traced out all the lines on the
master, you remove the workpiece from the machine, and etch the design
the metal. You can etch into copper, brass, aluminum, steel, stainless
steel, silver, etc. I know of no other machine in existence that could equal a Cronite engraver for
making clock dials. They can
used for numbering feedscrew dials as well as for doing work on flat
will do finer
work than any machine that uses a rotating cutter. "Trophy shop"
engraving is simply not in the same league at all.
As I guess you can tell, I'm a
of these machines. The photos on this page show a Cronite "Zero"
which I bought from a engraved stationery
printing shop in Vancouver in 1995, and restored.
When I got it, it was so
thought the big washer at the base
of the column was rusty cast iron. It turned out to be polished bronze!
I made a hand cut master for
a little rearing horse about 5" tall. From that master
I used my Cronite Zero machine to engrave the same little horse at about 0.070"
tall on a piece of copper. At that size you
can (with a microscope) still see his eye!
Working from hand
cut masters 1-1/16" tall, I have engraved numbers 0.010" tall (as near as I can measure them), and the results - even at that extremely small size - are
an absolutely flawless
duplicate of the masters. (Again, you need
a microscope to see that this is so, but it is.)
It takes about 5 minutes for a total
duffer to learn to
make masters. For about $10 or so you can buy a hand graver for
making masters, or you can make one yourself (I can tell you how) from a piece of 1/4" drill
is just as good, and far easier on your forefinger.
A factory-refurbished Cronite engraver
normally sells for about $2500 to $3500. "As-is" machines can be had for
less, when the factory has any in stock.
These desirable and useful
machines will do things you can do almost no other way.
engraver is about the size of a bench drill press, and typically these machines are found on a factory stand. If they are on a stand,
the stand is usually about 3' tall, 3' wide, and about 24" front to
The machine is easily removed from the factory stand, and the whole
thing could be put in a car or SUV. (I brought mine home in a Ford
Explorer.) Shipping weight will be about 330 pounds.
I can supply you with a write-up
giving various pointers on how to go about refurbishing one of these
machines. A person with average mechanical aptitude can do it, and
obviously a machinist is well equipped to carry out certain small fixes
that might be difficult for lesser mortals to do.
on the photo to see a
interested, or for more details,
you can contact me - Guy Lautard - at 604-885-4780, or The Cronite
Company, Inc., of Parsippany NJ, at 973-887-7900.
you purchase one of these machines, I can supply you with
1. a write-up I did containing some general advice on refurbishing
2. a great deal of vital
and very detailed information about
using and adjusting these machines. This info
from an old Cronite book that is virtually unobtainable today, and
3. factory drawings for making what Cronite refers to as the "Gun and
Knife Engraver's Universal Attachment." This modification permits
engraving on items thicker than about 1/2" - for example when engraving numbers on a
shop-made feedscrew dial. The factory charges about $340 to add
this modification to these machines, but
any basement machinist can readily
make this item for himself without difficulty. The drawings were given
to me by Cronite president Bob Steffens, with permission to photocopy
them and the info on using and adjusting Cronite engraving machines,
and to offer them as set forth here.
4. A three-page write-up and drawings, by me, showing how to make
a graver for making hand cut masters that is much easier on your
forefinger than a narrow factory-made #52 graver.
If you want this info (the refurbishing advice, the chapter from the
book, the drawings for the Gun
and Knife Engraver's Universal Attachment, and the item about making
your own graver for making masters), send me a note stating what
you want, and US $35. If you are sending for this info from the
USA, a US INTERNATIONAL
Postal Money Order is the best form of payment. The material will be
sent to you as a series of PDF's attached to e-mails. Typically
this will occur the day I get your order, but it may be later, if
my bank advises me to wait for your form of payment to clear.
My personal address is given here: http://www.lautard.com/twostories.html.
ALSO NOTE: Anything other than the items listed on that page, or
on the page you are currently on, can ONLY be ordered per info on my How To Order page. The
link to the How To Order page is given on my home page.)
Something else you will in due
course need if you buy one of these machines is an engraver's pad.
This is used when making hand cut masters for your machine, and I would regard it as a MUST HAVE item. These
pads were expensive 15 years ago, and did not seem to be offered at all in more recent years.
I had some of these pads made up, but have now sold them all. Click here
see further info about this simple but extremely useful item. (Although I
no longer have these available, I will leave that info up on my website
for whatever help or interest it may be to those who are interested.)
Added March 11, 2014:
If you do some serious Googling, you may be able
to find Engravers Pads
offered now. I did find a source several months
ago, but I don't recall where.
to go to my home page