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).  The 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 machine.

So far as I know, a
ny parts needed to refurbish either model are available from The Cronite Company, such that they can be brought back to good-as-new operating condition, but 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 are used 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 rotating cutter.

(Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

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 - any type 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 engraving.

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 permanently into 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 dialsThey can be used for numbering feedscrew dials as well as for doing work on flat surfaces. They 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 big fan of these machines. The photos on this page show a Cronite "Zero" engraver which I bought from a engraved stationery printing shop in Vancouver in 1995, and restored.  When I got it, it was so dirty I 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 rod that 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.  

A Cronite engraver is about the size of a bench drill press, and typically th
ese 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 back.  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.

(Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

If 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.
If you purchase one of these machines, I can supply you with

1. a write-up I did containing some general advice on refurbishing them,

2. a great deal of
vital and very detailed information about using and adjusting these machines. This info is photocopied (with permission) 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:  (PLEASE 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 to 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.

Click here to go to my home page