Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 1

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.

Here’s the transfer on the stainless steel pendant blank, with a silver backing.  It’s about one and one half inches high.  Next, I’ll begin engraving all of the layout lines.

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

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

Above, all sides done, and a little dark patina thrown in to see how it might look when finished.  I also find it easier to see what I’m doing when I cut the darker metal.  Less glare, as well.

Here’s a side view of the total depth. Technically this is “low relief” engraving, but it’s still pretty deep!

Thanks for looking!

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Steampunk Viperfish

Here’s a small Work-in-Progress engraving Serge Panchenko’s exquisite Coin Claw Pendant Knife.

Above is the finished Coin Claw knife.  This was a special version of Serge’s Coin Claw, and Serge went all out by making a lovely stainless steel damascus blade, timascus spacer, 6Al4V titanium frame and spring, and a special Grade 2 titanium backplate created especially for engraving.

This is the starting canvas.  The knife alone is like a small, exquisite jewel.  Everything fits beautifully, and Serge’s finishes are topnotch.

Above is the beginning design for a nasty-piece-of-work steampunk viperfish, complete with gear-guts.

Day 1, I’ve disassembled the knife (seemed like such a shame!) and engraved the major lines of the design, cutting through Serge’s nice stonewashed finish.

The next steps are to add in all of the copper and 25 karat gold inlays.  Above, I’ve begun excavating the pockets for the copper jaw, pectoral fins and tail pivots.  I’ll follow up the excavation with undercutting the outside edges, and cutting a forest of tinyhooks in the floors of the pockets.  I’ll wind copper wire in a spiral, using a brass punch to drive the soft metal into the tiny hooks and undercuts, resulting in a solid mass that is permanently trapped in the titanium parent metal.

Here are the copper inlays left rough from the brass punch.

Above, I’ve used diesinker stones to abrade the copper down level with the parent titanium.  I’ve also begun the copper inlays in the pectoral fin rays.

More inlays, including some in 24 karat gold.  This is the end of Day 2 engraving.

Day 3.  Above, I’ve carved the fins and the tail, and inlaid the gold gears.  Only four more gold inlays to go! And, while I shouldn’t, I couldn’t resist a little background removal just to see how it’s going to look…

Here I’ve begun stippling the background with a tiny, sharp carbide punch.  Background removal and stippling is mind-numbing work, but it really makes the engraving pop!

And, once again even though I probably shouldn’t, I couldn’t resist inking what I’ve engraved so far to see how it’s going to look.  Even if I do say so myself, it’s going to be good!  Day 4, I think?  I’m not sure where Day 3 went…


More background removal, in front of the mouth.  I’m using a graver to remove a lot of the material before I switch to a small carbide bur.

And more background removal.  Did I mention that background removal is mind-numbing work?

Here’s the back plate in the engraver’s vise. I’m still working on background removal and stippling.  You can see the carbide stippling punch in my Lindsay Nitro G20 airgraver.  Its’ extra power is very useful for tough metals like titanium.  I think this is the end of Day 5.

More background removal – stippled.

There’s that section underneath the jaw that still needs the background removed, and then that’s the last of the football-sized areas.  The others should be a bit more interesting and faster.

Above, the rest of the background excavated and stippled.  Didn’t I tell you it would go faster?  This is the end of Day 6.

Above, here’s the backplate finished and inked for the last time.  I’ve engraved all the final details like the pivot pins in the backbone and the plates on the ugly fish’s back.  I’ve also shaded everything, which helps to make it all pop.

And, of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and decided I needed to add a small surprise for Serge.  Since I’ve been spending so much time with his little knife, I couldn’t help notice the little banana-shaped area beneath the blade.  That just cried out for an ugly fish of its’ own…so, above, I’ve engraved the outlines with a small carbide graver.  This frame is made of 6Al4V titanium, which is a notorious material for engravers.  However, I discovered that with a really small carbide graver, I could actually engrave lightly in it without too much grief.

And, of course, since the nasty-piece-of-work viperfish on the back is pretty rich with all of her gold, the ugly fish on the front demanded her share as well.  Above, you can see the eye and the fishing lure light excavated, undercut and hooks raised, ready to inlay.

Here’s a little hint for the engravers in the audience – if all you have on hand is 28 gauge wire and the blob you want to inlay is a little large, just melt a blob on the end of the wire.  Problem solved…

Gold in place, and stoned flat.  Of course, this is where I had a thought.  It’s rare when that happens, but I noticed that the nice stonewashed background would provide a really nice contrast to bare titanium inside the fish…

So, a little later after work with a couple of tiny abrasive stones, a nice silvery fish…

Above, shaded, finished and inked

But, we’re not finished yet – the titanium pivot ring is insisting on a little attention as well…  Then, reassemble all of the parts, find the tiny screw that rolled under the bench and into the trash on the floor, try to remember if the bronze washer goes on the bottom or the top; no, that’s not the screw for that hole, careful – don’t scratch that part, and then sit in front of the boob tube and admire my handiwork…I wonder if there is any way I can keep this thing?  Oops, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is saying that I have to send it back to Serge…

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Finished

Above, I’ve completed the gold inlay, and cut the details in the antennae.  This image is before the final patina.

Above are detail shots of the more important elements.

And overall views of the final pieces.

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 12

Above, I’ve been adding inlaid gold to the centipede legs.  The leg at the left is finished, and I’ve just used a brass punch to set the gold in the right leg.

Above, you can still see a little waste gold hanging off the right side where I used the brass punch against the sharp steel top edge of the inlay cut as a shear to remove the excess.  Also, on the third leg from the left, you can see where I used a V graver to cut the top surface of the leg, followed by a flat graver driven in at the bottoms of the cut at right angles to the length of the cut.  This provides a gap on both sides at the bottom of the V cut for the soft gold to flow into and be trapped into place.

Above is after three and a half hours of work – almost done, but I’m tired and going further will increase the chances of a mistake dramatically, so that’s enough for today.

And here is the whole Side B scale.  So close!  Have you noticed the tiny jumping spider at 1 o’clock?  My girls badgered me into putting that in, claiming it needed something in that area…never question your Better Half and her accompanying fan club…………….

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 10

Above, I’ve completed most of the bark, save for a small area where I might place a tiny spider – I’ll look at it while in front of the TV tonight, and decide if it is an enhancement, or just an addition. Just like the bark on the front, I’ve used two sizes of carbide burs, followed by selective use of a square graver, and then followed by a large punch.

Thanks for looking!


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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 9

Today is all about sculpting and detailing the centipede.  More work with a flat graver, followed sculpting with a small flat faced punch (with a slightly radius on the face).  Above, you can see the results of about two hours of sculpting.

Here’s the same thing, but with a quick patina added.  Much improved, don’t you think?

I want the centipede body to really stand out as very dark, something not easily done in stainless steel.   I’ve carefully stippled each body segment with a small carbide round, sharpened to a short taper on a diamond lap.

And, above, an overall view of about three hours of work today.

Thanks for looking!


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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?

William_Henry_B10_Longhorn_Beetle_51 William_Henry_B10_Longhorn_Beetle_52
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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