Engraved Case Knife Tutorial

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.

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.

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.

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

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.


, after pounding in the gold wire

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, scraping it flat and stoning it completely flush with the surface of the bolster.

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.

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

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

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.

Above, the front bolster.

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

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.

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

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…

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


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