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.

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…

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.

Above is a simplified graphic explaining the Japanese Shishiaibori technique.

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!

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…

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.

Side B of the Millit Pony Knife is completely sculpted

, and two of the 24 karat gold inlays are installed. Seven more to go…

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.

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.

Another view! Photo courtesy of

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

This entry was posted in Engraved Knife and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *