Combining CNC and Engraving Tutorial


Here’s the reason I haven’t been posting the last several weeks – I’m learning CNC (Computer Numeric Control milling). Here are my latest successful efforts (emphasis on the successful…). The desert ironwood skull is inspired by a similar one by Jim Wirth (https://www.instagram.com/jwirth66/) to provide me with something more complex than the comparatively simple seahorses. You should also check out his sales site at: http://www.goldengategoods.com. Some cool stuff there.

I’ve been curious as to how well modern CNC machines can mill things in order to help with my engraving business. I’m intending to use the CNC as the stepping off point for further engraving and embellishment, and hoping it will save some time up front by roughing out deep carvings that I probably wouldn’t attempt any other way.


Above is my little desktop Nomad 883 CNC mill, by http://carbide3d.com. It comes with enough software to do some pretty decent modeling, and the software you need to control it with for both Mac and Windows.

  
Above is a fairly small moose antler rectangle that I modeled with the included software and cut using 1/8th and 1/16th inch diameter endmills, and a really tiny 1/32 inch diameter end mill for the teeth.


Above, I’m CNCing the moose antler skull-thingy. Had a small technical difficulty I’ll have to sort out, so I finished a little of it by hand. Awesome little machine!

I’ve finally decided on using Fusion 360 CAD/CAM software (free for small shops – http://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/free-trial) for the 3D work, and Carbide Create (included with the machine) for 2.5D. 1/8 inch square end mill for the facing and roughing, and a 1/16 inch ball mill for the final. I’m still trying to figure out which of the several cutting strategies Fusion 360 gives for best operation. And I’m not too concerned with the mill marks, since eventually I’m going to be doing this in metal and forging the remaining surfaces, as well as engraving embellishments to go far beyond what the mill is capable of.


Moose antler pendant and earring suite. Petroglyphs – good times today! The earrings are about an inch tall. All three parts were cut simultaneously on the Nomad 883 mill from a single piece of moose antler.


Here’s one in brass. I’ll be doing something on the other side, then enhancing everything with hand engraving techniques.


Above is the little mill in action. The brass rectangle is about 2 inches tall. Fun, and challenging!


Above, I’ve sculpted away the little artifacts left by CNC. Milling marks seem to be the chief limitation of using CNC for really fine work.


I added a spiral handprint on the reverse side. The front side is finished by forge sculpting the skull, engraving the tiny details and texturing the flat surface. We’ll call this one done… I learned a lot! I think this will eventually become very useful to me. There is a pretty steep learning curve here, between the software and the milling machine. Fusion 360 is an extremely comprehensive CAD/CAM system with lots to learn. I have done some shade tree machining in the past, so that proved very helpful with the milling machine and workholding. Also, my past dabbles in 3D computer modeling didn’t hurt me any… Overall, I’m very pleased with what I’ve managed to do in a pretty short timespan and look forward to much more challenging work in the future.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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Engraving Sampler CRKT Squid Knife Tutorial



Above is a small test (rose gold inlay) for a new project – an engraving sampler pocket knife for myself, so I have a sample of my work with me at all times. I made my old sampler knife a fair bit ago, and it no longer adequately represents my skills. I’m encouraged by this result, so we’ll continue on with the sampler knife…


Working on an engraving sampler pocket knife for myself, so I have a sample of my work with me at all times. I figured out what I needed to know on the rose gold test piece. Above, the initial lines have all been cut on the CRKT Squid knife.


Adding rose gold inlays to my engraving sampler pocket knife for myself. This is pretty slow going, the steel is pretty hard and rose gold isn’t easy to inlay.  I’m spending an awful lot of time resharpening my undercutting flat gravers when I break them…


Finished with the dragon’s breath gold inlays on my engraving sampler pocket knife for myself. Between the hard steel and the green and two rose golds, the toughest inlays I’ve ever done – there are four colors of gold in each of these two images…


Inlaying 24 karat yellow gold in the dragon’s talons on my engraving sampler pocket knife. 1 excavated pocket. 2 undercut edges. 3 hooks in pocket floor. 4 gold wires tacked in place. 5 wires flattened and permanent. 6 scraped flush and burnished. 7 stoned flush and outlined.


All the gold inlays on my engraving sampler pocket knife are finished and outlined. Also completed the sculpting of the dragon head. Next up, background removal in all of those tiny recesses…


Adding some (sort of) Fine English Scroll to my engraving sampler pocket knife. Also starting to remove some of the background…


Finished detailing the (sort of) Fine English Scroll.  It’s really starting to look like fire and smoke…


OK, the Christmas holidays are over, so it’s back to work on my Viking Dragon engraving sampler pocket knife. Working on the rest of the background removal…


Continuing removing the background of my Viking Dragon engraving sampler pocket knife. Sorry this is going so slow, but I just have to push on through this uninteresting part…


The background removal is completed. The next uninteresting part will be stippling the background – not my favorite part, but the results are always so stunning that I voluntarily suffer through it…


Ugh! Stippling the background of the Viking Dragon engraving sampler pocket knife – not my favorite part… several hours for maybe 20% of the task. Lots to go yet…


After heroic effort, I’ve finally finished stippling the background of the Viking Dragon engraving sampler pocket knife! Now some interesting things will begin to happen…finally.


Above I’ve finished the interior hatching on the Celtic knots! Except the spot I missed… Basic rule of engraving – you have to put it in front of somebody else in order to see a problem area…


Finished the Viking Dragon engraving sampler pocket knife! I’ll live with it for a few days to see if I need to do anything else…

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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Bear Skull Blade Fetish Tutorial

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A new project, with a recycled tiny bear skull carved from antler I found hidden away in a forgotten box. I can no longer carve organic materials for health reasons, and this will be the last of my wood, antler or ivory carvings. Also a small piece of shaped 1075 carbon steel which will become more obvious shortly…

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The Bear Skull Fetish will have a “stone” turkeytail blade done in my signature “knapped steel” style. Here is how I “knap” the steel using a small drum sander in my Foredom™ flex shaft grinder. You can see three “flakes” I’ve ground into the steel blade (red arrow).

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The above is an example of “percussion” knapping. This blade is a heat-treated jasper, knapped by my friend, Dr Joe Higgins. Percussion knapping removes flakes by using a small but dense object to strike flakes from the stone. Percussion flakes are larger, wider and deeper than pressure flakes. I usually simulate percussion flakes in my steel blade work – simply because I like the looks better.

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Above, the blade is mostly finished. I need to cut it out from the parent steel bar (it’s much easier to hold like this…) and add the notches.

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The Bear Skull Fetish “knapped steel” style turkeytail blade is complete, with a simple cold blue finish. Next, I’ve got to make a complicated silver bail, which you’ll see if it works out. If not, I’ll disavow ever having done it…deny, deny, deny. Wish me luck.

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Here’s my soldering setup for the complicated little silver bail.

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The Bear Skull Fetish Pendant with the successfully fabricated silver bail. I ended up silver soldering it so it won’t ever come off!

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The Bear Skull Fetish Pendant lashed onto the “knapped steel” blade with red Irish linen cord. Soaked with thinned clear epoxy to make it absolutely permanent. In the top left image, you can see the “serving” I added to tie everything off. The curved needle (lower image) helps thread the cord through the tight spots.

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The Bear Skull Fetish Pendant finished, with 3 inch long 1075 “knapped steel” blade, hand carved moose antler, silver hardware, red Irish linen cord, 20 inch long 3mm leather neck cord.


Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling
http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

 

Posted in Carving, Jewelry, Knapped Knife, Netsuke, Pendant | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

CRKT Burnley Squid Shishiaibori-style Engraved Bamboo Knife Tutorial

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Beginning a hand engraved bamboo theme in sunken relief on a CRKT Squid knife, with an inlaid gold Ganesh cartouche.

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I begin by mounting the knife on a special 2-piece hardwood holder (originally designed by engraver Mitch Moschetti). Don’t forget to tape the blade edge and point – don’t ask how I know to do this…

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Note the cheap shopping bag between the knife and the grey Thermolock plastic for quick disassembly and easy cleanup. See, these bags do have a valid use after all…

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The completed assembly with the bag removed and the knife in place. The copper bit is a thick shim between the scales to provide a solid base for later punch sculpting.

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CRKT_Burnley_Squid_Bamboo_Knife_Tutorial_5The bamboo themed CRKT Squid with all lines cut in, first with a wide V-graver. The outside bamboo edges have been cut again with a narrower V-graver to make them much deeper. Next, I’ll begin sculpting the bamboo to a near “carved in the round” but completely below the surface. This is called shishiaibori carving, and ancient Japanese carving technique.

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Here’s a graphic detailing the basic Japanese-style shishiaibori (sunken relief) process. Step 3 may or may not be needed, depending on the chosen engraving subject. Not shown is Step 6 using a flat nosed punch to smooth the carved surfaces.

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After the outlines are deeply cut, then I go back with a flat graver and begin rounding over the edges of the bamboo stalks. It will take at least two passes of the flat graver to achieve the rounding I require, more passes may be required in some areas.

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The second pass with the flat graver, removing another flat facet.

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Here’s the bamboo themed CRKT Squid knife with the first steps of shishiaibori sculpting completed. Note the faceted look of the bamboo stems. Punch sculpting will smooth those facets out. Also, I’ve textured the bamboo leaves with a tiny round graver, leaving longitudinal cuts to define the texture of the bamboo leaves.

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Once the basic carving with the flat graver is completed, I go back in with a flat faced punch and pound all the sharp edges of the carved facets into shape. This leaves a nice texture behind, and by either using a smooth faced punch or a textured face you can achieve all sorts of surface finishes. I’ve chosen a smooth texture for the bamboo. In the above three images, you can see the surface left behind by the flat graver versus the smooth punched surface.

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Here’s a graphic detailing the basic wire inlay process. Should I need a wider inlay, I simply add in parallel wires, punching them down until the seams can no longer be seen. High karat gold (if it is clean!) will readily cold-weld to itself, resulting in a solid metal inlay.

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Above, you can see the process of making the pockets for the gold wires. I begin by using a V-graver to make parallel cuts in the waste areas (1st and 2nd images above). I follow with tiny carbide burs to remove the excess metal (3rd image). Once the waste metal is removed, I follow by using a really tiny flat graver to undercut the edges. In this case, the wide areas of the trunk and ears require more than one width of gold wire (4th image). I also add tiny little hooks in the bottom of the inlay pockets for additional holding power for the gold wires.

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Above (1st and 2nd images), I’m adding 24 karat gold wires (28 gauge AWG) into the pockets, lightly tacking them lightly into place with a small brass punch. The brass punch will flatten the gold nicely but won’t damage the surrounding steel. Once all the wires are in place I use the same brass punch to heavily smash the gold into place (3rd image). The gold will flow into the undercut edges and hooks, permanently locking it into place. A properly finished inlay like this will require complete destruction to remove the wire. In the 4th image you can see the inlay scraped and stoned completely flat.

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A really tiny line cut around the edge of the gold with a really tiny V-graver (in the steel, not the gold!) adds definition (1st image above). I follow the definition line with stippling around the gold inlay to really make the cartouche pop. We’re nearly finished!

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A little chemical patination for the bamboo stems, followed by inking with a high quality flat black enamel really adds definition. The bamboo themed CRKT Squid knife finished! An evening or two for the inking to set up and a little quality control to detect what I might have missed, then it’s off to its new home.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

 

Posted in Carving, Engraved Knife | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Viking Dragon Pendant Tutorial

Titanium_Viking_Dragon_Pendant_Tutorial_35Titanium_Viking_Dragon_Pendant_Tutorial_34Titanium_Viking_Dragon_Pendant_Tutorial_1Here’s how a Viking dragon pendant design begins. I established the top half (dragon head) first with pencil, followed by inking, scanning and Adobe Photoshop cleanup. Then I tailored the lower half (dragon body) to the head. Above, the basic design is about half complete.

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Fleshing out the details on the titanium Viking Dragon Pendant. I typically add to complex designs like this in increments, with lots of editing in between…notice the center image has a much different bottom to the Celtic knotwork than the version on the left.

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Making the eighth inch thick Grade 2 titanium blank for the Viking Dragon Pendant. Sawing it out on the bandsaw. With a decent bi-metal bandsaw blade (I have a Starrett), this little Harbor Freight hunk-of-junk actually does a very credible job, sawing eighth inch thick titanium quickly and easily.

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Grinding and filing the edges true.

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Here I’m filing a crown on the front surface. The red is Sharpie™ permanent marker, which shows me the remaining low spots. As you might guess, filing titanium isn’t one of my favorite activities. I use a little pitch and glue it to a narrow hardwood chunk and hold it in the end vise of my woodworking bench – simple, but very handy.

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I end up by sanding the blank to a satin finish using increasingly finer grit sandpaper, rubber cemented to hardwood blocks.

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Here’s a handy little trick I use to file the edges of the titanium blank – a Jorgensen wood clamp held in the end vise of my woodworking bench.

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Now to get design approval from my client and we’ll start this show…

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I begin by mounting the knife on a hardwood holder (originally designed by engraver Mitch Moschetti) with Thermolock™ plastic. By the way, you can see the transfer on baking parchment in the upper image – I print out a number of patterns (mirror image, of course). It took me three tries to get everything centered properly on this one – and that’s not unusual.

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I got the design transferred onto the titanium Viking Dragon Pendant, and mounted it in Thermolock, ready to start engraving. I use baking parchment, laser printer and dammar varnish.

Laser printer toner is actually a plastic that is melted onto paper – laser printed on kitchen baking parchment, the melted toner barely sticks to it.

Dammar varnish is a varnish that is painted onto a dry oil painting for protection – for this transfer I paint the varnish onto the metal, let it partially dry to VERY sticky, then burnish the baking parchment and toner – the toner comes off of the parchment and sticks to the varnish on the metal. Solvent will remove the varnish after engraving.

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The titanium Viking Dragon Pendant with all of the basic design lines engraved…that turned out to be a lot of cutting! Next, I’ll begin to add in the gold inlays…

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Here’s a graphic detailing the basic wire inlay process. Should I need a wider inlay, I simply add in parallel wires, punching them down until the seams can no longer be seen. High karat gold (if it is clean!) will readily cold-weld to itself, resulting in a solid metal inlay.

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Inlaying most of the 24 karat gold in the titanium Viking Dragon Pendant. Above, you can see the four major steps (numbered in order) of making the pockets for the gold wire inlay. I begin by using a V-graver to make parallel cuts in the waste areas (Number 1 above). I follow with tiny carbide burs to remove the excess metal (Number 2). Once the waste metal is removed, I follow by using a really tiny flat graver to undercut the edges. In this case, the wide areas of these inlays require more than one width of gold wire, so I also add tiny little hooks in the bottom of the inlay pockets for additional holding power (Number 3).

Above (Number 4), I’m adding 24 karat gold wires (28 gauge AWG) into the pockets, lightly tacking them lightly into place with a small brass punch. The brass punch will flatten the gold nicely but won’t damage the surrounding steel.

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Once all the wires are in place I use the same brass punch to heavily smash the gold into place. The gold will flow into the undercut edges and hooks, permanently locking it into place. A properly finished inlay like this will require complete destruction to remove the wire.

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In the image above, you can see the inlay scraped and stoned completely flat. Four more inlays to go, but I’m done for today.

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All of the of the 24 karat gold inlays are installed in the titanium Viking Dragon Pendant, except the eye, which will go in after sculpting the head. A really tiny line cut around the edge of the gold with a really tiny V-graver (in the titanium, not the gold!) adds definition (see the teeth and claws). I follow the definition line with stippling around the gold inlay to really make the gold pop.

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Sculpting the head of the Titanium Viking Dragon Pendant. First, I remove the background around the head. I begin by using a V-graver to make parallel cuts in the waste areas (1st image above). I follow with tiny carbide burs to remove the excess metal (2nd image).

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Next, I use flat gravers (images above) to begin sculpting the curly-cues on the head. I’ll follow with flat-nosed punches to smooth out the facets left by the flat gravers.

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Above, the head has been fully sculpted. The final inking will be done with Rustoleum Flat Black Enamel, but these interim (and temporary) blackenings are just black Sharpie™ brand permanent marker.

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Bit of a chore on the Titanium Viking Dragon Pendant – background removal. Not loads of fun, but the results end up being stunning…

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Adding a little surprise to the Titanium Viking Dragon Pendant – and completing the background removal.

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Not much longer on the Viking Dragon Pendant – maybe 70% of the background stippling completed. Stippling requires a lot of concentration and attention – not much fun, but in the end the resulting increased “fineness” is well worth it!

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Stippling complete on the Viking Dragon Pendant, and the gold eye added. Shading and detailing left to go.

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Above, you can see the fine shading cuts where the Celtic ribbons go under each other, and the crosshatching on the dragon’s tail. These will really leap out once they’re inked.

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The Viking Dragon Pendant is finished! Two and a half inches tall, in Grade 2 Titanium and 24 karat gold.  Just in time, since my compressor sacrificed its’ last gasp ringing this Dragon to life! Not to worry, though – new one in by the end of the week!

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

Posted in Jewelry, Pendant | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Engraved Case Knife Tutorial

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Something new for me, four bolsters on a Case knife. I begin by scanning the knife and developing an outline of the bolsters. Then a pencil sketch of my design (above). I create the design in a much larger size than the actual bolsters.

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The pencil drawing is followed by a careful inking, then removal of extraneous parts in Adobe Photoshop, and scaling to actual size. This results in a pattern I can transfer to the metal. Above is the finished patterns for the first side.

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I begin by using a V-graver to cut all the lines from the pattern. Many of these I will cut again, and many others I will complete after I’ve inlaid the gold. Above, you can see the initial cuts and the Lindsay Palm Control Airgraver I used.

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Above, I’m inlaying the 28 gauge 24 karat gold wire into the V-cut and undercut channels of the scroll.

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Here you can see a closeup view of the front bolster with some of the gold wire tacked lightly into place. You can see in the scroll cut where I’ve used tiny flat gravers to undercut the edges. The soft gold will flow into these undercuts, permanently trapping the gold.

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Above, after pounding in the gold wire, scraping it flat and stoning it completely flush with the surface of the bolster.

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I’ve used a V-graver to cut parallel lines in the areas where I’m going to remove the background. This will help me keep the background nice and flat when I complete the removal.

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Above I’ve used tiny carbide burs to remove the excess material in the background areas.

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Here I’ve stippled the bottom surface of the background.

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Here’s the back bolster, with my signature cartouche. I’ve tossed in a little temporary black Sharpie just to see how it will look at the final inking.

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Above, the front bolster.

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The first side of the Case knife is finished. Next, repeat everything in mirror image on the other side. With a few changes…

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Above is what the gold wire looks like after I’ve used a small brass punch (which won’t damage the bolster metal) to really pound the soft 24 karat gold into the scroll inlay. This causes the excess gold to spread out in small bits of gold leaf, which is easily trimmed and removed with scrapers and abrasive stones.

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Here’s all the gold inlaid in the other side of the little Case knife.

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Almost there on the opposite side of the Case knife bolsters! But, I’m tired so I’ll leave the shading ’til tomorrow when I have a steady hand…

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The Case knife bolsters are finished! This was fun, and I learned a lot. It’s a different experience engraving nickel silver and in such tiny spaces. Thanks for looking!

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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Millit Knives Pony NW Salmon Tutorial

Millit_Knives_Pony_NW_Salmon_Tutorial_1Here I’m starting a commission on a lovely little Millit Pony knife with copper scales. A sculpted salmon theme in NW Native American-style. Above, you can see the block I’ll use for holding the copper scales, covered in dark grey Thermolock™ plastic. You can also see the design transferred to the first scale, ready for engraving.

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Above, I’ve cut the outlines of all the elements, and recut the outside outlines to make them deeper (see bottom image). Next, I’ll begin sculpting the interiors of the salmon in Japanese-style shishiaibori (sunken relief). A little dark patina helps the process…

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Above, the top left image – I’ve used a small flat graver to round (inwards) the deep outside lines. Several times around, then I used a tiny steel punch to sculpt the interior surfaces smooth and contiguous (bottom left). This leaves a lovely texture behind. Next, I’ll add in the gold inlays, and recut all the interior lines. You can see a graphic explanation of the shishiaibori technique below.

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Above is a simplified graphic explaining the Japanese Shishiaibori technique.

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Here I’m adding the gold inlays – top left excavating and undercutting the pocket and raising a forest of tiny hooks in the bottom, tapping in parallel gold wires, then smoothing and recutting the details. Finally, stippling the dark areas, and voila, a gold eye!

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The Millit Pony Knife Side A scale is complete. The inking process typically removes a little patina, but not to worry, copper will quickly regain it all on its’ own. Now on to the mirror image on SideB…

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Here I’m working on the Millit Pony Knife opposite side mirror image. That’s it under the microscope. I’ve cut all the outlines and carved away the edges, so it’s now ready for punch sculpting.

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Side B of the Millit Pony Knife is completely sculpted, and two of the 24 karat gold inlays are installed. Seven more to go…

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Side B of the Millit Pony Knife – all of the 24 karat gold inlays are in, the inlays trimmed out, and a comparison with the finished Side A scale.

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The Millit Pony Knife scales are complete. I’ll use a few days to allow the patina to mature, then they’ll get a coat of Renaissance Wax and into the mail.

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Another view! Photo courtesy of http://millitknives.com.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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Koi and Waves Hobo HalfDollar Tutorial

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How about a Koi-themed Hobo Nickel (OK, it’s actually a silver half dollar)?

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Above, I’ve begun the coin carving by transferring my pattern to the face of the half dollar, and then using a V-graver to cut in all the lines.

Some folks like to remove the head or figure on a coin before engraving, leaving a nice flat area, but I tend to leave the extra metal for more sculpting.  Leaving the figure does tend to make things a little confusing, though…

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Here I’ve relieved the background on the Koi and Waves Hobo Half Dollar.  Still looking a little confusing with the bits of Lady Liberty still showing.

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Sometimes adding a dark patina to the coin helps with visualization.  That’s a bit better…

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Beginning sculpting with flat gravers and steel punch.  The lighter colored areas are where I’ve been working.

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Above, I used a small flat graver and have finished cutting back all of the various levels of the elements.  I’ve also finished smoothing and sculpting the Koi with a small steel punch.  Next, I’ll have to do the same for the waves.  I’ve also added the gold inlay for the eye – I sometimes tend to jump the gun on the eyes – they’re the window to the soul, and I like to see the life emerge by detailing the eyes…

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Here, I’ve finished punch sculpting the waves.  Notice the nice texture the small, almost flat faced circular punch leaves behind (with slightly rounded edges).

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In antique Japanese metalwork with wave motifs, you often see little round bits of gold inlaid into the surface, so I’ve decided to add them too.  Here I’m adding little dot inlays of 24 karat gold to the waves. I used a beading punch to make little circles, removed their insides with a tiny carbide bur and undercut with a tiny flat graver. These undercuts will allow the soft 24 karat gold to flow down into them, becoming trapped so the inlay can’t come out.

I find it convenient to melt a small ball of gold in the tiny 28 gauge wire I like to use for inlays.  This gives me a little more gold and conveniently allows a single piece inlay, rather than the multiple parallel wires I normally use for larger area inlays.

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Above is an enlarged image of the little circular pocket (lower left corner) and the little ball of gold I’ve melted on the end of the gold wire.  In the top center you can see a completed gold inlay, with the excess gold flowing over the edges of the pocket.  I’ll scrape this excess off and then use an abrasive stone to really flatten and refine the gold inlay.

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Above I’ve used a small brass punch to squish the gold ball into the inlay cavity.

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Here’s a terrible enlarged image of the tiny ball squished into the inlay cavity.  Sorry for the terrible focus, but there’s no going back to reshoot.

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With the addition of a little patina and final touchups, the Koi and Waves Hobo HalfDollar is finished!  Above are two oblique views so you can get an idea of the depth of relief.

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A view of the back, with my signature.

Koi_and_Waves_Hobo_HalfDollar_15And here she is, in all her glory, leaping for joy!

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling
http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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Titanium Dragonflies Pendant and Earrings Suite Tutorial


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Beginning a titanium and gold dragonfly-themed pendant and earrings set.  The pendant is 2.25 inches high by 0.9 inches wide. Mirror image earrings are 0.9 inches high by 0.5 inches wide.

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Above is the beginning of the Grade 2 titanium pendant and earrings. The pendant is one eighth of an inch thick, and the earrings are one sixteenth of an inch. I’ve cut all of the outlines with a V-graver, and washed away all the remaining design transfer.

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Above I’ve cut the pockets in the eyes for gold inlays. Ive also undercut the edges and raising a field of tiny hooks in the bottom to catch hold of the parallel gold wires I’m going to inlay. A very important part of the planning for engravings such as these is when to add precious metal inlays. In this case, I want to add the 18 karat rose gold eyes and the 24 karat yellow gold body inlays as early as possible. Since these will be flush inlays I’ll need to stone the excess gold flat with the surface, and I don’t want to impact the engraved lines any more than I have to, so adding the inlays early on is very important.

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Here I’ve added in several parallel 28 gauge rose gold wires and “tacked” them into place in the pockets below the surface of the metal with a small steel punch and light blows. Rose gold is such a hard alloy that I cant use my normal brass punch for this operation. Rose gold is terrible stuff to inlay, it work hardens instantly, but it’s the only way I know of to get a nice rosy/coppery color that won;t eventually darken.

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Above, I’ve pounded (literally!) the wires into a single mass with pretty hard blows of the steel punch.

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Here are both earrings with the rose gold inlaid in the eyes. Notice the excess gold overflowing the edges.

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I’ve used a small scraper and a 600 grit diemakers abrasive stone to cut the rose gold flush with the surface of the titanium.

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Above you can see the tiny cuts around the edges of the eyes that really make the gold inlays stand out from the background. I’ve also used a V-graver to cut parallel lines inside the bodies to begin removing the excess titanium in the inlay pockets.

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I’ve used a small round carbide bur in a micromotor grinder to remove the rest of the body material. Small flat gravers would work as well.

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On the left you can see the completed 24 karat yellow gold inlay after stoning and the tiny trim lines cut around the edges.

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And all of the gold inlays complete.

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The next chore is to remove all of the background material with parallel V-cuts and carbide burs. You can see various stages on both of the earrings.

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After the background is completely removed, I use a small sharp carbide stippling point to make the background a uniform texture (left image).

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Above is one of the earrings completed and inked. Notice how I used tiny V-cuts to detail the wings, and added in tiny shading cuts in the body segments. Inking darkens all the cuts and the background, really making the design and inlays come to life.

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The completed pair of earrings. They’re about 3/4 of an inch long, Grade 2 titanium with 18 karat rose and 24 karat yellow gold inlays.

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The earrings are done in the Titanium Dragonflies Pendant suite, but I need to quit procrastinating on the pendant. So, here I’m excavating the rose and yellow gold inlay cavities. Since I’ve covered the inlay process on the earrings, I won;t go into detail on the pendant inlays. They follow the same process, just larger spaces and some more expensive gold…

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Excavating the eyes, undercuts and floor hooks.

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Excavated body cavity.

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I have to add the gold in several non-continuos spots, because the design has ribbons that cut across the body cavities.

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Several stages of gold inlay, with the finished gold in the right image.

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Removing the background (left image), and stippling in the right image. Stippling isn’t one of my favorite activities since it’s pretty much a high pressure (don’t screw it up now…) version of watching grass grow.

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A couple of detail shots.

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Adding detail in the wings. Note (right image) the stark difference between the detailed wing and the non-detailed. The bug begins to really come alive with detailed wings.

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The Titanium Dragonfly Pendant and Earrings suite is complete. Grade 2 Titanium, 18 karat rose gold, 24 karat gold, sterling silver bail, 20 inch leather neck cord.

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And a couple of detail images of the finished pendant and an earring.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling
http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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Titanium Tiger and Bamboo Dogtag Tutorial

 

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I’m starting a new project, a Tiger and Bamboo themed titanium dogtag in Japanese shishiaibori-style (sunken relief). All of the design is carved below the original surface of the metal. This has the advantage of protecting the engraving from damage and/or wear and tear.

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So far just extra deep outlines with some flat graver sculpting. Obtaining these very deep outlines is a bit of a tricky technique. I make several successive cuts with gravers of decreasing width, going deeper each time, but trying to make certain I don;t widen the original line width.

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Above is a simplified graphic explaining the Japanese Shishiaibori technique.

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Lots more sculpting on the titanium Tiger and Bamboo Dogtag. The paw and the right hand bamboo stalk are finished. Notice how much smoother and refined the appearance of the second image is after using the punch to smooth the head. The punch leaves behind a nice texture as well.

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I spent the day refining the punch sculpting and doing kitty dentistry. Above, I’m carving the teeth and tongue with burs.

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Here, I’m punch sculpting the teeth. Notice how they immediately take on a smoother and more “toothy” look.

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Here, using a tiny 90 degree V-graver to refine the border around the teeth, tongue and lips. This tiny, almost invisible to the naked eye line provides a very finished look to the mouth.

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And, above, the whole dogtag.  I’ve done a little temporary inking with a Sharpie™ brand black permanent felt-tip marker.

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The titanium and 24 karat gold Tiger and Bamboo Dogtag is finished (except for inking). I’ve also added inlaid 24 karat gold eyes, and they’ve really made the tiger’s personality shine.

I often make my own titanium jewelry blanks, but this one is a Boker-manufactured grade 1 titanium dogtag. I got a great deal on a few blank ones, and couldn’t resist. The Grade 1 titanium engraves and sculpts like a dream!

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Here it is in the finished configuration and inked. Now you can really see the stripes – they are simply tiny shading cuts, very closely spaced.

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Above are some oblique views of the Tiger and Bamboo Dogtag.

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This one surprised me – it’s a LOT more effort than I had anticipated. Difficult modeling on the tiger, but these things occasionally sneak up on me.  I spent easily double the time I estimated working on this.  If I was to price it based solely on time and materials, the price would be double what I think I could realize for it.  I’ll have to reserve this sort of detailed sculpting for only the more involved pieces.

Hand engraved in Japanese-style shishiaibori (sunken relief), Grade 1 titanium and 24 karat gold, 20 inch leather neck cord included.

Thanks for Looking!
Tom Sterling
http://www.sterlingsculptures.com
http://www.facebook.com/TomSterlingHandEngraving#
http://instagram.com/tom_sterling_hand_engraving

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