A home-made stand to hold your magnifier.
Many engraver-printmakers use some kind of magnifying device while they work.
A useful lens for many engraver-printmakers is an ordinary magnifying glass. The most popular magnifier for engravers during the past century is the BAUSCH & LOMB Double Lens Magnifier, 3.5x power. It has two plano-convex lenses for a corrected wide, flat field.
Any type of lens used by an engraver must leave the hands free to work, and the lens has to remain "in focus" at a fixed distance from the plate. This calls for a "magnifier stand".
Many kinds of modern magnifier stands are available, but my recent web search turned up none that were designed specifically for that popular Bausch & Lomb Double Lens Magnifier. The B & L lens is available through many online sources, but the sturdy old engraver's stand that was used for the past century seems to be gone. My search turned up a company in India that has a handsome solid brass decorator item available. It's a nifty look-alike that appears to be very functional. It comes equipped with a magnifying glass, but it was not designed to hold the B & L.
Above is a magnifier stand that I built along the lines of the traditional type. I used it in my engraving demonstrations and workshops for about 30 years. This type of stand could be re-designed to hold the good-old Bausch & Lomb, but in these photographs, it is holding a familiar household magnifying glass which was originally attached to a handle.
That black-rimmed lens in the photograph above is the Bausch & Lomb Double Lens Magnifier.
You can see that the Bausch & Lomb lens would need a different kind of connector to attach it to the horizontal bar. It could be designed as some kind of clamp, a U-shaped holder, or a ring-shaped device. The connector should be lightweight and designed to provide solid support for the lens. It could be made of wood, metal, or plastic ... or even held in place by wrapping with "duck" tape.
The round base was glued up from pieces of wood that were cut to shape on a scroll saw. The base must be heavy, so I designed it with a hollow center, then filled it with lead weights before gluing its pieces together. It weighs 1 pound 3 ounces (538 grams). A different kind of base could be made by drilling a center hole into a recycled balance scale weight or some other solid object. A machinist could fabricate a base from solid brass or steel.
The adjustable rod clamp (shown above) was cut from pieces of oak lumber which were drilled completely through, then sawed in half directly through the holes (one of the halves was then discarded). A scroll saw was used to cut these pieces into their circular shape.
The vertical and horizontal rods were recycled from scraps of brass and steel rod stock ... but could have been made with wooden dowel sticks. Finally, a counterbalance weight was attached to the end of the horizontal rod. It was cut from a one-inch brass rod, drilled, and threaded. For a fast-and-easy counterbalance weight, you could simply drop a few coins into a plastic sandwich bag, skewer it onto the end of the rod, wrap and secure it with tape.
This gizmo is efficient and functional. It is easily assembled when needed, and quickly knocked down to store in my traveling tool kit, which I have often used while demonstrating the art of engraving. (The traveling tool kit and magnifier stand are now in the collection of the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.)
An image will appear larger if you try using the magnifier while wearing some high-powered +5 reading glasses which should be available either from an optometrist or pharmacy.
And finally, the scenery that's visible through this lens makes the engraving experience an enjoyable trip.
Click here to download. "How I Engrave a Copper Plate".
A PDF presentation about burin engraving, 4 pages, about 1.3 MB.
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