William Henry Dragonfly Bolster Knife Scales

William_Henry_B12_Bolster_Dragonfly_1 Starting on a William Henry knife scale with dragonfly theme – this is the back end bolster.

Here, I’ve been excavating and undercutting the pocket for the gold inlay.  So far, I’ve inlaid 24 karat gold into half of the body.

The end bolster inlaid with gold and finished.  This is about a day’s engraving for me.  Next, the main themed front bolster…

William_Henry_B12_Bolster_Dragonfly_3 The William Henry front bolster with the major lines engraved…and some of the wispy tail excavated for gold inlay.  It’s about a full day of engraving (for me) to cut the major lines of the front bolster, and excavate the body and looooong tail ready for gold inlay, so this far has taken me two days of work…

William_Henry_B12_Bolster_Dragonfly_4aInlaying gold in the wispy tail – this is pretty easy as inlay goes, since it is just one width of gold wire.

Most of the gold inlaid today…

William_Henry_B12_Bolster_Dragonfly_5 Most of the gold work is finished, except for a bit of shading detail on the dragonfly body at the end…this is the end of day three of engraving…

The gold is in and background being excavated.  Next I’ll stipple the background, detail the wings, then add shadow details to the gold body.  Not long for this side…this is the end of the fourth day.

Finished the background stippling today…Right now the background is just a million tiny holes (stippling). The last thing I will do is to make it even darker by inking the low spots, and wiping it off of the high spots…

With the finished detailing of the wings and the shading of the gold body, this side is finished!  End of day five.

Here’s the finished scale, with the fossil ivory center inlay in place. Very pretty!

William_Henry_B12_Bolster_Dragonfly_9I haven’t been a complete slug over the holidays, and finished the other side of the William Henry dragonfly knife scales.  Here are both sides of the scales.  I took my time on Side B over the Christmas holidays, but I could probably have finished this side (since I’m pretty practiced up on this design!) in four days.

Thanks for looking!


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“Greenman in Autumn” Pendant Dagger, Part 2

I started the engraving by cutting all the major lines. Next I’ll inlay gold wire into the Celtic beard…

Inlaying gold wire, from top left clockwise – undercutting the line (blue arrows) – hammering in wire – more hammering – all wire in place

Clockwise from upper left – scraping away excess gold – completely scraped – stoning smooth – tiny highlighting lines around the gold. Next, sculpting and background removal

Upper Left and Right – excavating the background around the gold Celtic beard – LR stippling the background – LL I just had to ink it to see how it would look. Next is carving the face…

Sculpting and background removal. Then I couldn’t resist inking it to get a glimpse of the future…

Sculpting and background finished. Next will be creepy antler eyes like the Hobo Nickel skull…

Waiting for epoxy to cure for the creepy antler peg eyes…

Upper left and clockwise, the final step is making double inlaid creepy eyes of antler and dark horn. Final pics tomorrow…

“Greenman in Autumn” Pendant Dagger finished! 1084 steel blade, titanium scales, 24 karat gold inlay, double inlaid antler and dark horn eyes, with titanium, silver and copper sheath. Thanks for the support and encouragement!

Thanks for looking!

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“Greenman in Autumn” Pendant Dagger, Part 1

Beginning a new project – a tiny pendant dagger in my signature “Knapped Steel” style. Here it’s been cut out from 1084 carbon steel.

Decreasing weight of the dagger, left to right – drilling areas in handle – jeweler’s saw cutting through the web – chunks removed…

Left to right – basic lens shape to the blade – carving the “knapped” stone flakes – blackening just ’cause for looks

Texturing the stone flakes on the blade, and carving the “ripper” cutting edge…

Engraving details on the blade front and back, and cutting pockets for gold inlay. There’s no engraving after heat treating!

Press forming copper sheath – hard urethane (red thing), steel die (arrowhead shape), and copper sheet pressed and hand chased…

24 karat gold inlaid in the blade, and the copper sheath trimmed and fitted.

All the pieces roughed out, sheath assembled, titanium scales attached. Once the glue cures, I’ll trim everything neatly.

Since you asked for a profile shot, here you go!

The dagger blank finished and smoothed – ready for engraving!

The on-order clip arrived and is now installed – with the clip in place, the dagger cannot come out of the sheath. To access the dagger, unclip the sheath from the leather neck cord…

Thanks for looking!

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Skull and Centipede Hobo Nickel

Back to engraving with a Hobo Nickel project, just for me.

Skull_Centipede_Hobo_Nickel_16This is my first solo Hobo Nickel, with 24 karat gold centipede legs, moose antler zombie eye.

Here’s my design transferred onto a 1937 buffalo nickel. Don’t know what a Hobo Nickel is?  Try hobonickels.org

Above is the design engraved, but no sculpting yet.

A little further along, with the centipede back half sculpted…

Most of the sculpting done, and ready to add the gold…

Here’s the front half of the centipede sculpted, and 24 karat gold wire inlaid into the raised legs. I haven’t trimmed the edges of the gold yet.

Here’s the front half of the centipede sculpted, and half of the gold legs inlaid…impressive, if you’ve ever seen one of these not-so-little nasties in person.

Front legs inlaid with gold wire, some trimmed.

All of the gold legs installed! Hope it doesn’t crawl off when I’m not watching…

Skull_Centipede_Hobo_Nickel_15Installing a zombie eye of moose antler.  From upper left clockwise, – lathe turning tiny moose pegs – front and back pegs – pegs epoxied in place front and back…

Finished! The zombie eye is particularly creepy…

Thanks for looking!


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William Henry Steampunk Viperfish – Side B, Part 2

Finished the sculpting today! Here’s a before and after of the squid-thing. Lastly will be detailing with rivets and panels, then stippling the background (ugh!)

Big push on finishing the background stippling today. Here, I’ve been working around the edges of the bad tempered anglerfish…

Yay! The stippling is done (except for the tiny spot I missed – can you spot it?)… Next are rivets and panels, then it’s finally done!

At long last! It’s done, and here’s the beauty shot. The details: William Henry model B12 scales, 4 inches long 416 stainless steel, hand engraved with 24 karat gold and copper inlays.

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry Steampunk Viperfish – Side B, Part 1

Well, I’m baaaack! With the unmasking of Side B of the Steampunk Viperfish. At the top is THE PLAN, the center has the design transferred to the steel knife scale, and the bottom has had all of the major lines engraved. Tomorrow, I’ll start the copper and 24 karat gold inlays. See you then!

Here’s the anatomy of a large copper inlay. 1st image: three copper wires “tacked” into place. You can see tiny “hooks” engraved into the bottom of the inlay pocket. 2nd image: all wires tacked onto place. 3rd image: copper wires have been punched into the hooks in the pocket bottom, and flowed into the undercut edges. 4th image: the copper has been stoned flat, and tiny lines engraved around the steel edges.

Almost all of the copper inlays in place. Next, the gold inlays…

I got some of the gold inlaid today before I burned out…

Finished the gold on the steampunk anglerfish. Bear with me a little longer, just a couple more inlays on the squid-thing and then fun stuff will begin happening…

Inlaying gold wire into a complex gear. I add in short gold wire segments, which will become a solid mass when hammered into place.

The same gear hammered and stoned smooth and flat.

All of the squid-thing inlays are finished. Next I’ll begin excavating the background and sculpting the elements.

Background removal around the anglerfish. Still need to stipple the background…long way to go yet…

A big push today towards background removal – sorry there’s not more to see.

Yippee – almost all of the background removal is finally done. Next is background stippling to increase the contrast, then on to the fun part, sculpting!

Spent most of the day making small circle punches to make the pins in the squid-thing’s bicycle chain tentacles. Here I’m turning a taper on the business end of one of the punches on a tiny Sherline lathe.

You can see the four different sized punches I made in the center of the image, and the test marks at the blue arrow. I also placed all of the circular pivot pin marks on the bicycle chain tentacles.

I spent today sculpting the tentacle attachments to the squid-thing. These were way more complex to sculpt than I had anticipated…

A lot done today on the tentacles. The half on the right are finished, punch work left to do on the left…

The bad tempered anglerfish is fully sculpted, and except for rivets and a few panels, is finished

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William Henry Steampunk Viperfish – Side A

Starting a new project – a pair of steampunk knife scales for William Henry Knives. Follow along with me as I progress, it’s nice to have company!

I’ve cut all of the major lines, and next I’ll start on the copper and gold inlays.

This is one of the rays on the big fin, ready for a copper wire inlay. You can see where I’ve undercut the bottom edges of a V- cut. When I pound in copper wire, the softer metal will flow into these undercuts, trapping the copper.

Here’s the copper wire starting to be hammered into place. It’s stuck tight enough at this point that I’m not having to hold the wire in place.

Here’s the copper hammered into place and trimmed flush with the steel surface.

The finished inlays, stoned flat and smooth, with a tiny engraved line cut around the edges. And that’s my day…

I couldn’t face any more inlays today, so I worked on background removal. I also sculpted the fins and the bicycle chain backbone.

I managed enough engraving time to put in the largest copper inlay. These are kind of a pain, but very necessary to the design…

This image is with a new closeup lens for my iPhone. What do you think?

Beginning the excavation for another copper gear inlay…

I carved away all the parallel cuts, and cleaned up the edges…

Here I’ve undercut all the edges and created a forest of tiny hooks in the bottom of the pocket. These will bite into the soft copper, permanently trapping it…

Filling the gear teeth with short pieces of copper wire.

Here I’ve wound copper wire into the cavity, lightly hammering it into the little hooks at the bottom. It’s now held fast, ready for me to hammer it all together her into a single mass…

WM_Henry_Steampunk_Viperfish_15The finished gear inlay. I’ve scraped and stoned it smooth, and added tiny boundary cuts.  I’ve firmly hammered the wire so it all flows together. It’s also overflowed the banks of the pond…I’ll be carefully scraping away the excess back down to the surface of the steel.

I also finished the copper and gold inlays on the unlucky little ugly fish.


I’ve mostly finished the unlucky little ugly fish. Still a few rivets to add in, but those will come towards the end…

I got the big scary 24 karat gold teeth inlaid today. Now this fish can bite…

Eye inlaid, and beginning to excavate around the big teeth…now the scary fish can see with big mindless killer eyes…

I finished the last inlay and all of the background removal. Next will be sculpting the big fish head, then stippling the background. We’re almost finished with this side…but there’s still Side B to go! The adventure continues…

Thanks for looking!

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Baby Snapping Turtle Pendant

Baby Snapping Turtle Pendant by Tom Sterling

This is how an engraving begins. My design is laser printed on ordinary kitchen baking parchment. The laser printer toner doesn’t stick well to the paper, and with a little encouragement from the antler burnisher, will transfer to the sticky Dammar varnish.

Above, I’ve engraved all of my design lines.  This will be a relief carving, so I need to go quite deep when removing the background.  As I carve and round over the turtle parts, I’ll end up re-engraving all of these lines several times…

Baby_Snapping_Turtle_Pendant_2 Baby_Snapping_Turtle_Pendant_5
More background removal, using carbide burs now.  The right side is about correct, the left side needs lots more work…

Baby_Snapping_Turtle_Pendant_7 Baby_Snapping_Turtle_Pendant_8
Above, all background removal done, and a little inking thrown in, just to see how it might look when finished.  Here’s a side view of the total depth, as well.  Technically this is “low relief” engraving, but it’s still pretty deep! I also find it easier to see what I’m doing when I cut the darker metal around the edges.  Less glare, as well.

Also, I’ve begun carving the shell to make it look like it is round.  Since this is low relief, it’s a little tricky to make things look right.  There’s not much depth to work with, and it’s more than just carving away everything that doesn’t look like a turtle shell.  There’s a lot of taking off a little bit, then pulling my head out of the microscope and looking to see how it’s working.  Then, lather, rinse, repeat until it looks like a turtle shell to the naked eye.

Baby_Snapping_Turtle_Pendant_9 Baby_Snapping_Turtle_Pendant_10
I couldn’t resist adding a little sand texture to the smooth sand in front of the turtle.  Just because I’m curious to see how things will eventually look.  Behind his front legs, I’ll eventually be adding in the turtle tracks as he/she books for the relative safety of the water, before the local critters spot him/her.

I’ve finished carving the shell, his arms and legs, and head.  I’ve used a combination of flat gravers and carbide burs. I finished up by using a smooth faced punch to move metal around and smooth everything over. Engravers call this “sculpting.”
Finished! This little turtle is ready to crawl off to his new home… He’s an inch and three quarters tall.  The pendant is hand engraved and carved from Al6V4 titanium, with an inlaid 24 karat gold cross on the reverse, and Argentium™ silver jump ring and leather neck cord.

Thanks for looking!


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Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 4

Above, I’ve finished carving and sculpting all the flippers and her cute little tail.  I’ve also carved the track details, and textured the sand.

And a side view. Pretty deep carving, even though it’s low relief!  Now it’s on to the silver back…

I’ve engraved the outlines of the starfish, and using a tiny carbide bur, I’ve excavated the pocket for the inlay.  I’ve also undercut all the sides, and laid in lots of tiny hooks to catch the gold wire.  Above you can see the beginning of the gold wire being punched into place.  The tiny hooks in the silver hold the gold quite well, even when it is just barely punched down.  I want to leave enough gold above the pocket so when I really punch the wire down, it will become a single, solid mass and flow into the side undercuts and into all the gaps between the hooks.  24 karat gold will readily cold-weld to itself, becoming a single piece.  This is how dental fillings were done for many centuries, before mercury amalgams were introduced.

Above,the first round of the gold wire punched loosely in.  I’ll continue this until the entire cavity is filled with concentric wires.

Above, all the wires in place, and before punching it all securely into place.  The super-soft gold will flow in all directions, and fill all the visible gaps.

And here’s the final punching, followed by outlining the inlay with tiny engraved lines.  Normally I would stone the gold completely flat, but since I’ll by using a tiny beading punch to texture the starfish skin, I won’t bother here.

Above, I’ve used the beading punch to make tiny knobs all over the surface, just like the knobby skin of a real starfish.

And here’s the 24 karat gold starfish inlaid in the Sterling silver back.


Finished! This little turtle is ready to crawl off to her new home… She’s an inch and a half tall, hand engraved in 416 stainless steel, with a sterling silver backing, and inlaid 24 karat gold starfish.

A close-up of the turtle and the turtle tracks in the sand. She’s booking for the water before the gulls spot her!

Thanks for looking!


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Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 3

Now it’s time to begin rounding over all the flippers and the head.  I’ll start with the baby’s right front flipper, using a flat graver, and then followed up with burs and punches.

Above is a close-up of  the flipper before using the punch for final refinements.

Baby_Sea_Turtle_Pendant_19a Baby_Sea_Turtle_Pendant_19b
Above, I’ve finished with the right front flipper, and added the patina.  Looking more like a tiny turtle now…

Now I need to do the same thing to the head.  This is my favorite part, since the turtle will take on life once the eyes are done – the eyes are the window of the soul.

A close-up.  I’ve just used carbide burs here, and, of course, a v-graver to re-engrave the lines for the skin plates.

Above, the head is finished after refinement with punch and the addition of patina.

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille…

Thanks for looking!

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