William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 8

Side B has been calling to me for a while now, so it’s time to knuckle under and get started…  This will be mostly bark with a sneaky centipede partially hidden underneath.  I vividly remember seeing one of these bad boys as a young child in Texas, when I was perhaps 5 or 6.  Black body and startlingly yellow legs, it seemed like it was a foot long and struck me as being “powerful.”  Bugs aren’t something you would normally think of as powerful.  Stingers, biters, scratchers, yes, but not as having power.  But this thing was angry, not happy being held down with a stick across its’ middle, and it seemed to be winning the fight.


Here, I’ve simply engraved all of my layout lines quite deeply with a Lindsay Detailing (96 degree) graver.  I’ve also reserved a space for a possible use later, and marked where two cavities are located on the underside.  I don’t want to carve into those.

Above, I’ve used two sizes of carbide burs (small and tiny) to excavate around the centipede to the desired depth.  Quite deep against the centipede’s body, tapering to almost zero depth at the lower edge of the scale.

I’ve used flat gravers to begin carving the slightly rounded body where it disappears under the bark, and where the legs disappear under the body.  I’ve also used tiny flats to cut around the base of the legs and the tree surface.  Did you know that an onglette with a flat heel on the bottom makes a pretty strong, yet tiny flat graver?  Try it…

And, above, a more magnified view.  Lots more carving and rounding of the body and further sculpting with a punch tomorrow.

Thanks for looking!

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Inlay Hold Down Clamp

It all began with this William Henry knife scale and the shibuichi beetle body pocket inlay.  I had trouble holding the shibuichi beetle in place while I carefully and closely scribed around the base to begin cutting the inlay pocket. I managed to get around that problem with a little superglue, but that made a small cleanup problem and didn’t solve my 2nd problem of holding the inlay in place in the pocket while I punched around the edges to lock the beetle body into place.

I had seen the above image on The Engraver’s Cafe forum sometime in the distant past, so my dim memory of the hold down fixture which would provide a good, solid hold but not be too much in the way while trying to work around the edges.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate it again (above, recently found and provided by a fellow forumite), so I had to come up with my own version.  I’ve tried c-clamps before, but between the twisting and clumsy construction, they were almost impossible to work – and they are so poorly made they just don’t work well.

So, here’s my version (from memory) and adapted to the materials and tools I had on hand.

Oh, by the way, don’t read too much into this highly staged scene. The inlay is just a stooge for purposes of illustration…

The clamp is held on to the jaw of the engraving block with a single screw, so the clamp can be rotated horizontally. So, three degrees of freedom, vertical rotation with the pivot and pressure assembly, horizontal rotation by loosening the single hold down screw, and in/out movement by lengthening the gooseneck hold down.

The strange shape of the clamp base is simply an artifact from a Boeing Surplus aircraft aluminum bar, as is the large hole on the upright portion. You really only need a thick “L” shape for the base.

The pivot and pressure assembly is just a rectangle of stainless steel. The hold down gooseneck is just 1/4 inch diameter brass, forged to a small taper. This gooseneck slides in and out about an inch for greater reach, and is locked in place by the socket head cap screw on the front. The long screw in the back raises and lowers the pivot and pressure assembly, and can generate a surprising amount of pressure. When tight, I can’t move the inlay by hand on the surface of the knife scale.

All the screws are 10-32 socket cap screws, so I only need one allen wrench.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


PS It has occurred to me that making a second pivot and pressure assembly, along with a longer pivot screw, would allow me to gang two goosenecks together for longer inlays….

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 7

Well, here’s Side A finished, following some gold inlay for spots on the beetle.  Now it’s on to Side B.  No rest for the wicked!

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 6

Here’s where we left off (above).  Today is inlaying the gold into the antennae, and completing the bark around the antennae.

Above, in this view through the microscope, I’ve used a Lindsay Detailing Graver (96 degree V) to cut the distinctive jointed antennae of longhorn beetles, almost like little half dumbbells linked end to end.  In the left half of the image, I’ve used a really small flat graver to cut a tiny undercut groove at the bottom of the engraved antenna cuts – I do this by simply driving the graver at about a 45 degree angle to the surface straight into the metal, move along a little less than the width of the graver, and do it again and again.  In the above image, I’ve only done this along the top edge, but eventually will work all the way around on both sides.  This undercut will provide a space that the annealed and quite soft 24 karat gold wire will flow into, trapping the gold.  This undercutting also raises the upper surface of the steel, creating little walls like the piles of dirt along the edge of a freshly dug ditch.  I watch for these little “raisings” as I’m cutting the undercuts so I know I’ve made them deep enough.

Above, I’m using a small brass punch to drive the gold wire into place.  I’ve gently textured the face of the brass punch by tapping it into a 600 grit diamond lap, so it really grips the gold and helps squash it into place.  While taking this picture, I was able to completely rely on the short portion of gold driven into place to keep the rest of the gold wire from falling off the vise.

Here’s an overall image what has happened so far.  I’ve done a little extra work with the brass punch, making certain the gold is seated well, and hammering the excess into gold leaf.  This really thin gold is easy to fold up along it’s edge and use a sharp blade to cut it off, being certain to reclaim the waste gold.

I now need to scrape off the remaining excess gold (there’s not much at this point) and lower those raised steel edges as well.  I’ve decided to use a tiny scraper I made from hardened piano wire (you can see it in the above image).  These scrapers are much like Japanese “hisage” scrapers used for hundreds of years in their classic metalwork, and they are really growing on me!

Above, both the gold and the surrounding steel has been leveled, but most gold inlays need more contrast than what we have here.

So, above I’ve used a tiny v graver to cut very small lines in the steel (NOT the gold) along the edges, and then cut across to form the joints of the antenna.  A lot better contrast, don’t you think?

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And, above, two views showing those tiny cuts from several different viewpoints.

Above, I couldn’t resist a quick inking to see how they will eventually look – providing cuts for the ink to settle into is the actual reason for the outlines.  Looking good, so now I have to carve the bark and trim up the antennae.

And, here above, two views of the finished antennae and bark.  I’m pleased!

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 5

Today is all about carving the bark.  Above, I’ve begun by using a small carbide bur to begin adding vertical development to my so far very flat bark.  Since the stainless steel scales aren’t terribly thick, I’ve chosen to cut away the top side and left side of each bark element (top and left seen as the image is oriented here).  That will leave the bottom edge and the right side at the original surface level.

Above, I’ve come back with a smaller carbide bur and carved the top and left edges a bit deeper, and better defined the edges.  I want them to be fairly vertical.

Above, I followed up the tiny carbide bur with a much larger one.  I’ve done this to eliminate the tiny “scribbled” texture the tiny bur leaves.  The top image is unpatinated, and the lower image has had a quick patina added.  Notice how the patination really cuts the shine, and improves the appearance immensely.  It’s actually starting to look like bark now.

Of course, most tree bark has deep cracks separating the “elements.”  Above, I’ve come back with a Lindsay Detailing graver (96 degree V), followed by a small onglette to cut those deep lines.

The bark still looks too “defined” and sharp.  So, above, I’ve used a large and slightly rounded punch to “beat the bark into submission.”  You can see the face of the punch in the image.  I’ve also textured the face of the punch by hammering it lightly into a 600 grit diamond lap.  This grips the stainless steel better, causing it to move more efficiently, and leaves behind a nice, dull surface.  I’ve also concentrated on the edges of the bark elements to slightly round them over, and lower the very flat bottom and right edges in spots.

Above, this is a far as I’ll go today.  The two large areas with the original surface will end up as bark eventually, but I need to inlay the beetle antennae in gold first, followed by carving away the bark up to the edge of the gold inlays.

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 4

Today, I carved the rotten wood at the back end of the scale.  Above, you can see the basic carving with small carbide burs.  The only direct engraving I’ve done at this point are the original cuts I made at the start, establishing an indelible pattern.

Above is the finished wood and knothole, both in the plain steel from the gravers and burs (top image) and after using my super-secret stainless steel patination process (Jax Silver Blackener, followed by Birchwood Casey Super Blue).

But, I’m not completely pleased with the rotting wood yet.  In the top image above, I’ve circled the area that I don’t like.  It just seems a little overworked, and the bottom edge looks more like a copy of the top edge.  In the image below, I’ve gone back and fixed that!  Much improved.

So, that’s enough for today.  Above, you can see where I got to, completing the right side of the beetle legs, and carving the rotten wood at the rear.

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 3

Time to begin carving the beetle.  I started by engraving parallel cuts between the legs, leaving a little metal at the edge of the inlay pocket.  I don’t want to cut into the pocket and weaken the grip on the shibuichi.

Above, I used carbide burs to cut down to the bottom of the parallel cuts, followed by a punch (between the blue arrows) to further drive the raised metal down and in to the inlay pocket.  Since I wasn’t certain how this might work out, I worked on a single small section – part of my policy of Graceful Degradation.  However, luck was with me and the technique worked flawlessly!

Above, I’ve continued the series of parallel engraved cuts all around the shibuichi beetle body, leaving the narrow ridge of steel all the way around the edge of the inlay pocket.

Above, I’ve cut away the waste steel surface around the legs with carbide burs, and used the punch to drive the ridge further down into the shibuichi and inlay pocket along the left side.  I’ve used a tiny flat graver to further refine the edges of the legs and the surrounding steel surface – you can see the little “roadlike” tracks left by the flat graver.  I’ll use a tiny carbide bur to disguise the smooth “road,” followed by a tiny onglette graver to cut a small groove at the base of each leg and steel surface, and then use the punch to gently sculpt the upper surfaces of the legs. The sculpting will take the legs from tiny, blocky/square ridges to rounded and elegantly curved surfaces.  All the boy beetles will sit up and take notice when she slinks by…..

I’ve tried another experiment, and stippled the left side of the steel surface around the beetle body and legs to darken the area like a shadow, and added a quick patina.  I couldn’t resist seeing how it will turn out down the road!

Thanks for looking!


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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 2

Installing the Shibuichi Pocket Inlay

Today is all about getting the shibuichi inlay into the stainless steel scales.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the make it or break it phase.  If I should fail to get the inlay properly in place, that is probably the end of this knife scale.  There might be a second chance if I’m lucky, but even that would entail a LOT of extra work, so this is a very worrisome time.

Once the pocket was of sufficient depth and fit (side to side), I once again undercut the bottom edge, and then cut in a forest of tiny “hooks.”  Using a flat graver, I cut parallel lines running the length of the pocket, and then went back at 45 degrees and cut a second set of rows.  This left lots of tiny hooks on the bottom that the shibuichi beetle will catch not, helping to hold the inlay into place.  For a more in-depth look at cutting these hooks, take a look at my “Beneath the Blood Moon” Pendant.

I’ve annealed the shibuichi beetle once again, to ensure it is as soft as I can get it.  Above, I’ve used a small lead block and small hammer to seat the shibuichi inlay firmly into place. This little lead block works really well to provide a “dead blow” action, without marring the shibuichi inlay, causing the little hooks to dig into the shibuichi, and force the bottom of the shibuichi into good contact with the bottom of the inlay pocket, just in case it isn’t completely flat.  This little lead block hint comes courtesy of Ford Hallam, and you can see it in action in Part 1 (at 11:40) of his film Utsushi – In Search of Katsuhira’s Tiger  Be certain and watch Part 2 as well, it’s well worth the time.

Here’s a view from the side – notice the raised edges of the steel around the inlay.

Above, a view under the microscope.  I’ve used the punch you see in the photo to begin punching down the raised steel edges of the inlay pocket – I started at the top (between the two blue arrows), then moved to the bottom between the two blue arrows.  This locked the shibuichi into place in the center of the inlay pocket, so I could continue on around and punch down the rest of the raised edges down.

Above, I’ve finished punching down the edges.  The shibuichi is now completely locked into place.  To remove this inlay now would require destroying the inlay, or the scales, or both.

And, above, just because I wanted to before I stop for the day, I’ve used a carbide bur to roughly carve the beetle body to shape.

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 1

Well, after finishing up the little copper overlay titanium owl pendant, I’m back into the swing of things to begin my next William Henry (www.williamhenry.com) commission, a small B10 model folding knife.

I started by engraving the basic layout of the beetle legs, the bark and knothole on the nicely machined 416 stainless steel scale, and super glued the shibuichi beetle body to the surface so I could carefully trace around it with a small, sharp scribe.  Two tiny drops of thick, gap filling super glue suffice, and the beetle can be easily removed with a small wooden punch, tapping on the side of the beetle.  The glue will vanish when I anneal the shibuichi.

Above, I’ve carefully used a Lindsay Detailing engraver (96 degree V graver) to cut inside the scribed lines around the beetle’s body.  I need to excavate a pocket to inlay the shibuichi body into the steel scale.  This type of inlay is held in mechanically, and no glue or solder is used.

Next, I need to begin excavating the “pocket” for the shibuichi beetle to fit into.  I start that process by engraving parallel cuts along the length of the body pocket.

The parallel cuts will aid me in keeping the bottom of the pocket flat.  Above, I’ve used a small carbide ball bur in my NSK Electer micromotor grinder to begin cutting away the waste metal.  I cut to the bottom of the grooves.

Above, I’ve finished excavating the pocket.  You can still see a bit of the engraved line bottoms left at the bottom.

I’ve used the same 96 degree graver to cut deeper around the edges.  I’ve carefully tipped the graver so the outside edges of the pocket will be close to 90 degrees (vertical).  I’ve also begun the process of engraving more parallel cuts.  I have to be especially careful now, since the bottom of the pocket is getting deep enough that I might scar the edges of the front or back ends – this is sometimes called a heel strike in engraving.

And, above, I’ve completed engraving the second set of parallel cuts, ready to use the small carbide bur to excavate to the bottom of the engraved cuts.  I’ll repeat this parallel cuts/carbide bur excavating process one more time to achieve the depth I need.

Above, the pocket is completely excavated.  I’ll use a flat graver to undercut the edges of the side walls – I simply press the flat graver straight into the bottom edge, cutting a gap below the vertical walls.  I need this small gap to make the next step easier – using several different punches to “forge” the walls in order to raise the outside edges up, and out.  This will provide enough extra room so the shibuichi beetle body will fit into the pocket.  As the pocket is right now it is too small for the shibuichi body.  There is a little madness to my method – the raised outside edges will provide enough extra steel to mechanically hold the shibuichi inlay in place when I use a punch to drive the raised edges down, hopefully actually denting into the shibuichi for a super-strong hold.

Here, above, is the inlay dropped into place, with very little clearance around the edges.  Tomorrow, I’ll cut a bur field in the bottom of the pocket, and then set the shibuichi in permanently.  If all goes well, the only way to remove the inlay will be to destroy it, or the scale.

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Above, a couple of side views of the inlay just set into place.

Thanks for looking!

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The “Alchemy” Locket

I forgot I made this necklace for my daughter a couple of years ago, and she says she gets all sorts of compliments whenever she wears it.  This was made from a steal washer from the local hardware store, copper, and a dash of silver for the rivets.  The diameter is 1.75 inches in diameter and hangs on an 18 inch leather cord that sits the medallion just under the collarbone.

The symbols carved into the washer are alchemical sigils that give the locket an air of mystique and magic, while the grotesque throws in a hint of violence.  Definitely a conversation piece, and follows my “ugly/weird horror” theme that tells a story.  The mechanical hinge is also reminiscent of the steampunk style that is popular right now, combining the old with the new for a fractured fairytale feel.


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