The Engraver Press Release
Journal: The Engraver
Issue: Jan., Feb., March 1999 - Page: 6
This product review started out a little different than normal. I received a call from Ultra-Speed Products regarding their new engraving tool. My first reaction was another " you too can engrave and make BIG money" tool. The advertising leans a bit that way, but unlike a similar product, this one doesn't suck you into a total package that costs $3000.00. Put into a nutshell, this is a high speed rotary air grinder. Now, no way will I endorse this as a stand alone tool for firearms engraving. It may be fine, as a stand alone tool for wood carving, glass engraving or other applications, but it isn't the main tool for firearms. It does, however have many applications for firearms engraving. It is just dandy for removing background , inlay excavation and modeling inlays.
Bob Evans covered the use of this type of tool in previous seminars and articles. Since then, I have used a similar tool for years and wouldn't be without it. Bill Vogel from Ultra-Speed Products sent me a tool to evaluate and write a review on the product. When the package arrived, I was a bit disappointed at first. I was used to my tool, which was about the size ofa "AA" flashlight and made from machined steel. This tool is made of a high tech polycarbonate and was about the size of a large ink pen. In my experience, high tech polycarbonate is another way of saying "plastic", but after some thought I realized that these tools are nothing more than a rotary vane with a bearing. The body of the tool is nothing more than a device to holdthe vane and high speed stainless steel dental quality bearings. The real plus of the polycarbonate is that the tool is extremely light. It weighs only .5 ounce! It is much like using a fat ink pen. The tool utilizes standard dental burs with a friction collet. Inserting the burs is simple. Simply press them in. To remove the bur, simply push the ejector plunger. It comes with complete instructions and a spray lubricator. It is important that the tool be lubricated every fifteen minutes for proper tool life. I thought this might be an inconvenience at first, but lubrication is quick and easy with the lubricator supplied. Anyway, after fifteen minutes, a quick break can be welcomed.
Another plus to the tool is that it is extremely quiet. My other tool emits an irritating whine that is bad enough to make dogs howl. This tool has a more muffled sound that is much less annoying, however it is recommended that you use ear, eye and breathing protection when using any of these type of tools. The tool can be used with a stand alone air supply or hooked up to a GraverMax to adjust the air supply. The tool operates on between 35 and 50 pounds of air pressure and consumes about 1 cubic foot per minute.
Because of the lower air use of this tool, it can be also run from a C02 tank. A 20 pound tank will power the tool for up to 3 + hours of continual use. The Turbo-Tool comes with a foot control to operate it. This makes the tool more convenient to operate than using a hand controlled shut off. The foot control carries a lifetime warranty. The bearings in the handpiece are covered by a three month warranty. I used the Turbo-Tool to remove the background from 10 knives I was engraving ina production style. Thetool worked very well for this purpose. Instead of using a flat or liner to remove the background, the rotary tool makes quick work of removing excess material. I use dental burrs called FP 1/4 and FP 1/2 for this purpose. Others use different styles and sizes, but I find these work best for me. Unlike electric grinders, these tools have no torque. You can't force the tool, but with the speed of 400,000 RPM the tool will remove a lot of material with little force. The best way for me to describe the way to use this tool is to "kiss" the surface of metal. Use it like you would use a pencil to sketch a drawing instead of making a straight line. The dental burrs are cheap and regular replacement is suggested. When I feel that the tool is not cutting well, I replace the bur. The time saved cutting with a sharp burr will make up the difference in the cost of the burr. Aside from removing background, the tool can be used for many uses beyond firearms engraving. Most of us seem to be a "Jack of All Trades" and this tool will come in handy for wood work, ivory carving and other uses. One thing I have found the tool very useful for is removing broken screws. If you have ever broken the head off a 6)(48 plug screw, you know what a pain they are to get out. With the Turbo-Tool and a FG 1/4 burr, you can cut a new slot in the screw without damaging the surroundings. Most of the time the screw will come out easily once the head is broken. I've saved my rear many times with this little trick.
The last plus of the Turbo- Tool is the price. The tool, foot control, lubricator and instructions sell for $165.00. That is about one half the cost of the model I am presently using. This makes the tool attractive for those that have considered purchasing a rotary tool, but just didn't want to shell out a ton of money. If you were going to use a tool of this nature constantly, one of the more expensive tools may be the route to go, but I put over 20 hours on the Turbo-Tool with no problems. It makes a great addition to your tool inventory. You can obtain more information on the Turbo-Tool from: Ultra-Speed Products Inc. 18500 East Aschoff Rd. Zig Zag, OR 97049 Phone 503-622-4387 Or check out the web site at: www.turbocarver.com