This involves a more menacing challenge, namely holding the object. My theory is that if you can securely hold the object, you CAN engrave it.
The most common work holding method is double-sided tape. This may seem a bit odd at first but you will soon find that having a well stocked tape dispenser is handy. Double-sided tape gives you the ability to secure flat plates easily to your worktable. Usually a small amount will do the trick. Almost all suppliers of engraving materials will offer some version of hold down tape. This tape is designed to secure the object but not to leave any adhesive on the plate. If you do use a tape that leaves a residue, you can do a little clean up with acetone, lighter fluid or a glue remover like "goo gone".
If you plan to do a large number of plates you may consider one of the new disposable hold down sheets. These sheets of material have no adhesive in them however they do keep flat plates from sliding on the surface. Usually the sheet is made of a rubberized material that has a surface tension that when in contact with the bottom of the plate will prevent any slipping. The plate can be quickly pealed up and another can be put down.
Some types of clamps are designed for flat plates such as small badges, plastic signs or trophy and plaque plates. These small clamps will be of two major designs. One will be used to push the plate against the table back stops or scale bars (if your table is equipped with these). The other style of clamp can be used to "pin" the plate down. I personally like this style because the plate is pinned with a down pressure. A plate that is secured from the side can have a tendency to bow. Figure 8.3 illustrates a jig that is used for holding seals.
If you are looking to secure an odd shaped object such as a baby gift, pen or shaped key tags then a vise and pair of clamping jaws (See Figure 8.4) will be the order of the day. Most pantographs and many models of engraving system will be equipped with a vise instead of the flatbed-engraving table. These systems lend themselves to gift item engraving. The vise is designed to secure many odd shaped items or is designed to accept a wide range of clamping jaws. If your equipment was designed with a flatbed table you may be able to use a separate vise for the occasional odd item. Check with the equipment manufacturer for the model designed for your particular system. The jaw pairs that are available are endless. Many are designed for specific applications like pens, while others are designed to be very "universal". Regardless of the type you have, it can be wise to build up a library of various jaw types for those special jobs.
If you are already in the business, you know the situation: the job is set up, adjustments have been made, you're ready to go, and oops, the item moves during the engraving process. Not only do we usually scrap the item but also we now may be faced with telling the customer that" their" goods are damaged. It's worth reviewing a few steps you can take to avoid these mistakes. If you have a problem with holding the work: