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The Lindsay AirGraver
by Andy Shinosky

Photos are of Andy's knife making and engraving work with the AirGraver.
Click photos to enlarge.

One day back in 2000 while perusing the internet in search of engraving inspiration, I happened upon the website of Steve Lindsay. As I was enjoying the absolutely gorgeous engraving on his website, I realized that Steve was now offering engraving equipment for sale. I was immediately excited. You see, I had become aware of Steveís engraving in 1991 while still a fledgling knifemaker. I quickly developed a great respect for him based upon the exquisite designs and his absolutely flawless execution of those designs. When I decided to take up engraving for myself in 1996, I inquired about what equipment Steve was using only to find out that it was a proprietary device that his father had developed and it was not available to the public. All I knew for sure was that it must be some kind of fantastic equipment to allow him to do such fine work. Since I was just a beginner, I decided to buy some entry level equipment. This equipment helped me develop and gain experience, but after a few years I began to outgrow its capabilities. I knew that to do better work I would need something that offered finer control. As fate would have it, the Lindsay Airgraver came onto the market just at the right time for me. I contacted Steve at once to purchase one.

When I received my Airgraver I was immediately struck by the excellent craftsmanship of the handpiece. It was also much smaller and more compact than I had expected. I quickly set about hooking it up. When the moment of truth came for me to actually make a cut with it I was blown away by the amount of fine control I now had. I knew then that I had found what I had been looking for. I was so happy I donít believe you could have slapped the grin off of my face that entire day. As a full time Tool and Die Maker, I know a thing or two about close tolerances and excellent fits, and the Lindsay Airgraver has it all going on. What is especially amazing is the fact that there is only one moving part in the handpiece which does all the work. The essence of the mechanism is the patented system of air ports and chambers which cause a piston to oscillate back and forth in the cylinder of the handpiece. As the piston moves forward it contacts the nosepiece of the tool transferring the energy down the shank of the graver. It is a simple yet ingenious design. But, as I came to learn, this was in fact not the handpiece his father had created but one that was of Steveís own design. In the search for a better mousetrap Steve has managed to develop a handpiece that is more efficient, easier to maintain, and requires fewer moving components than any other handpiece currently available on the market.

Being so overwhelmed by the quality of that first handpiece, I assumed I was using a mature product and I didnít feel it could be improved upon. Boy was I wrong. Steve never stops tinkering, and the current crop of tools has refinements that I hadnít even dreamed of. Along the way Lindsay tools has offered a number of variations of the original handpiece to meet different styles and types of engraving. But at present only one version is being marketed, the AirGraver Classic, which combines all the capabilities of the previous designs into one new and all-encompassing design.

One of the most noticeable improvements comes in the form of a stroke adjustment ring that sits near the nose of the tool. It can be adjusted instantly by simply twisting the ring with the thumb and forefinger. It is a single handed operation which can take you from a long powerful stroke to a short light stroke instantaneously with no additional adjustments necessary. As an added bonus, the adjustment ring includes an o-ring which isolates the nose piece from the rest of the body of the tool. This allows more of the energy from the piston to be transferred to the work piece improving the already efficient nature of the tool. In fact, the AirGraver is so energy-efficient that a single 567gram bottle of CO2 will power the tool for 8 to 10 hours in place of a standard air compressor unit. This also allows the tool to be operated without the need of any electrical connections.

The Lindsay handpiece rarely needs any maintenance, but, should it be necessary, it is as simple as popping off the end cap of the handpiece and cleaning out the bore with a Q-Tip moistened with alcohol. Because the liner of the bore is made of Teflon, no lubrication is ever necessary nor is it even recommended. The Airgraver is truly a maintenance dream compared to other handpiece designs available today.

The Lindsay Airgraver is delivered with a foot pedal as standard equipment, but within the last year Steve has introduced the new optional patented PalmControl unit. Replacing the standard end cap of the tool, the PalmControl has all the mechanical control wizardry built into it and eliminates the need for the foot pedal. The only hook up is a single air line from the handpiece back to a filter/regulator. This makes for a zero footprint tool with no additional boxes or control apparatus to deal with. When Steve first rolled out the new control I was given the opportunity to try it out. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical at first. But after spending 10 minutes with it I was a definite believer. The PalmControl is one of those gadgets that once you have tried it you know you couldnít possibly live without it. The additional control over the tool is exceptional. Because the hand is so much more sensitive than the foot, it is capable of making more subtle corrections, and soon the tool feels as if it is just an extension of your hand.

I personally use the Lindsay Airgraver with Palm Control, and I think it is the best engraving handpiece that money can buy. My own engraving work has improved tremendously because of it. So, if you are looking to upgrade your engraving equipment or are about to buy a power assisted handpiece for the first time, you definitely owe it to yourself to take a good look at the Lindsay Airgraver.

Andy Shinosky www.shinosky.com

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