Knapped Push Dagger Tutorial

Time to start another knife project. I think this will be a small push dagger

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, in knapped steel style with my nasty “ripper edge.

Grinding my signature “knapped steel” flake scars into 3/16 inch thick 1084 steel

, followed by differential hardening and tempering. You can see the two tools I used for the grinding and carving… By the way, grinding is done before heat treat.

Lightening the knapped steel push dagger by removing some of the interior steel from the handle. Careful drilling and cutting out the web with a jeweler’s saw. Tape that blade! Don’t ask me how I know to do this…

Time to fabricate the handle scales for the knapped steel push dagger. I hot forged and cold rolled 1/4 inch thick tellurium copper thinner. Now I have to figure out what lives on these scales…

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Dragonfly Hobo Nickel Tutorial

I need a little timeout from the hummingbird skull reliquary

, so here’s the start of a fun Hobo Nickel with a gold dragonfly. I’m leveling out Jefferson’s head with a punch and abrasive stones, and beginning the engraving.

Inlaying a 24 karat gold dragonfly in a Hobo Nickel. Excavating

, undercutting and pounding the gold wire into the pockets. Next, I’ll excavate the background and stipple.

I’ve completed the background excavation with a tiny carbide bur in the Dragonfly Hobo Nickel (first image). The second image shows the completed background stippling. I’ll finish up with the details, signature and inking next time.

Here’s the finished Hobo Nickel…

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Skull Cache Pocket Fidget Toy and Pocket Fetish Tutorial

Starting a tellurium copper pocket fidget toy and fetish. Quarter inch thick tellurium copper – this stuff machines, engraves and carves really well! None of the gummy/smeary problems ordinary copper has.

Marking out and cutting the blank to size.

I’ll use the exact dimensions to computer model the design for CNC rough out.  I’ve used Autodesk Fusion 360 for CAD modeling.


, I’m CNC milling the design into the front side of the tellurium copper blank, using 1/16 inch diameter carbide square and ball nose end mills, no coolant.

Here’s a closeup of one of the skulls after machining. I’ve darkened the copper for better visualization. Notice the little milling marks left behind by the milling operations. This was about two hours of machining.

You can see where I’m using small gravers to cut a fine line around the margins of the skull. This will remove the fillet left by the ball nose end mill in the final milling pass.



, I’ve been carving and engraving around the edges of the skull to improve the fineness of the presentation. I’ve discovered no matter how fine I try to mill the shapes, it simply can’t compare to the fineness of hand engraving. The CNC is very useful for roughing out the shapes and saving me a fair bit of time, but it’s not what I’m ready to accept as a finished product compared to fine hand engraving.

Above, all of the skulls have had their margins carved/engraved and refined.

Here I’ve used a tiny punch made from a worn-out carving bur to forge the skull surface smooth. This removes those tiny mill marks, and leaves a pleasing texture behind. Of course, you can use a polished punch for a smoother look, but I like this texture for the appearance of a long-buried skull.

And, above, all the skulls given the same punch treatment. I’ve also used a sharp carbide stippler to stipple all the background areas.

Here I’ve added a patina and inked the deep spots for extra contrast.

Now for the back side…I’ve CNC milled the skull shapes, and begun stippling the inside of the skull and the spiral handprint. You can see the carbide stippling point in my Lindsay Nitro G20 Airgraver.

You can see the stippling effects on the left side of the above image, in contrast to the smooth copper areas not yet stippled.

Above, the stippling is complete, and the tiny skull in the eye has been refined in exactly the same manner as its’ big brothers on the front side.

In the above two images, the back side has been patinated like the front.

The Small Skull Pocket Fetish is finished through a unique technique of machining combined with hand carving and hand engraving, each method carefully chosen for its own best effect.  This unique fidget toy is 1.25 inches wide by  1.75 inches long, of an unusual tellurium copper alloy specially formulated for excellent carving characteristics and it’s lovely copper color. Small leather wallet included to keep your fidget toy safe from mishap in your pocket.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Hummingbird Skull Reliquary

Starting a new reliquary project. This is the first of several elements, a 1075 carbon steel blade in my signature “knapped steel” style.

Using a small drum sander, I’m carving in the flake scars that would be left from knapping stone blades… 1075 carbon steel blade, one of several elements yet to come for a small reliquary art project.

After creating the tiny “knapped steel” blade for my reliquary art project, it’s time to begin the next element, a tiny copper and silver press-formed hummingbird skull. I’ve already formed the copper skull (more info on that here: ). These images show some of the steps to create a tiny silver helmet that will fit perfectly on the copper skull.

A little more progress on the copper hummingbird skull and silver helmet for my reliquary art project. It’s time to trim the silver helmet and extract the skull from its copper sheet.

Trimming the silver helmet from its pressed shape for the copper hummingbird skull reliquary art project. I fill the helmet with pitch

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, and use a small carbide ball bur to cut away the unwanted parts. It’s easier than using a jeweler’s saw on this difficult shape…

Forging the beak closed and chasing details into the copper hummingbird skull reliquary art project. You can see the tiny chasing tools I used in my Lindsay Nitro G20 Airgraver. I decided on mummified hummingbird eyes this time. Eeeeewww…

Silver soldering the silver helmet onto the copper hummingbird skull. I’ve also filled in the hollow skull with an antler plug. It’s now ready for detailing with engraving techniques.

Fabricating the copper and bronze stand for the hummingbird skull reliquary project. I have to finish fabricating the individual elements before I can do the CNC modeling for the reliquary box and lid.
CNC milling the lower container for the hummingbird skull reliquary project. The wood is bocote

, and the container still needs to be trimmed from the excess wood.

CNC milling the phosphor bronze lid for the hummingbird skull reliquary project. The bronze lid still needs to be trimmed from the excess metal.

Finally! The major parts of the hummingbird skull reliquary project are fabricated and assembled. Now on to engraving and detailing the skull and the reliquary lid…

CNC milling the lower container for the hummingbird skull reliquary project. The wood is bocote, and the container still needs to be trimmed form the

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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When god was a Woman Earrings

I’ve always loved the prehistoric “Venus” carvings

, so I decided to make a press forming die for some Venus of Willendorf earrings, and maybe some other uses.

Above is my computer model of the Venus of Willendorf, originally sculpted in limestone. She is one of the oldest and most famous sculptures on Earth, literally a 20,000 year old prehistoric creation. My tag line is based upon the book, “When god was a Woman.” I’ve had to squish it in the “Z” direction, so my earrings won’t be too thick. There’s a good bit of artistic judgement needed here to get things just right, so the viewer gets the idea that the composition is 3D, but in actuality is shallow relief.

Here I’ve placed my model into another computer model, this one based upon the 2 inch diameter slice of steel I’ll be using for the negative/female die. I used the Venus model as a virtual knife to “split” the die slice into two , and then I deleted the unwanted section. This leaves a hole in the surface of the steel in the shape of Venus.

Above, I’m milling the Venus void into the steel slice. The blue painter’s tape creates a little well for containing a puddle of coolant. The CNC machine here is a Nomad 883 desktop CNC

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, built by Carbide 3d ( I used 1/8th and 1/16th inch endmills, 8800 rpm, 200 mm/min feed and 25 mm/min plunge, 0.1 mm step downs for mild steel.

Here’s the die as it comes directly from CNC milling. There were some overhangs on the digital model that the CNC can’t cut, so I’ll use hand engraving methods to correct those areas (see the left and right upper arms and shoulders).

Above, you can see the modeling clay I use to check my progress.

Above is the first pressing in 22 gauge copper sheet (center), using lead as a formable “pusher” (right). Don’t forget to anneal the copper between pressings. My small 20 ton air-over-hydraulic press needed two pressings to get a decent impression.

A question: What software you are using to model your positive and negative press dies?

Answer: Fusion360 by Autodesk. There’s a female die only, I use lead as a male pusher.

Here are a group of hollow back earrings in 22 gauge copper sheet, made by pressforming them with the dies I’ve been making. Guess I’ll have to make some in silver soon. Lots of fun!

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling


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Skull and Dead Eye Tavern Ring Tutorial

Starting a new tellurium copper Tavern Ring, this time a single large skull, with a few surprises yet to come. Stay tuned…

Tellurium copper machines and carves more like brass than copper. Pure copper is really gummy, but tellurium copper is great! PS – don’t confuse tellurium copper with beryllium copper. The beryllium copper is a health hazard…

Beginning the cut with my Nomad 883 by Carbide 3D. This is a 1/8 inch diameter end mill. I lean toward the 2 flute coated carbides. I’ve been using 9200 rpm and very conservative feeds for 1/8 and 1/16 inch diameter end mills. 250 mm/min feed and 25 mm/min plunge, 0.1 mm step downs.

After a few passes with a 1/16 inch diameter ball end mill.


, the machining of the skull is completed. Tomorrow, I’ll machine the teeth at the top. All together, this will be about six hours of milling for the skull and teeth in total.

Here I’m using a jeweler’s saw and 2/0 blade to cut the remaining material of the teeth profiles.

Above is a closeup of cutting the teeth profiles, removing the material left from the milling.

Now I need to remove the center material from the finger hole. I leave a thin web of material on the bottom so that center circle of copper won’t bind the cutter when the last little bit is removed and shear off the brittle (and expensive…) carbide end mill.


, I’ve added a texture using a round nosed punch in my Lindsay Airgraver, and added a little patina to get rid of that raw copper color. Rather than my usual round of using flat faced punches to remove the CNC milling marks, I’ve left the tiny marks in place. I’ve decided I like that effect here…

Hand engraving a cracked mud surface on the tellurium copper Tavern Ring.

Here I’ve darkened the freshly engraved cuts and finished and signed the back side. Tomorrow, I’ll start a little bit of extra fun…

The tellurium copper Tavern Ring needs a creepy double inlaid “dead” eye…I’ll create it from a tapered peg of naturally shed moose antler and a really tiny taper of ebony. These double inlaid eyes are a holdover from my netsuke carving days. For a look at some of my netsuke carvings, please go here: Above, I’ve turned a tiny tapered peg from a piece of naturally shed moose antler. The taper creates a very tight friction fit, and I’ve sealed the deal with some epoxy glue.

Here I’ve carved off some of the excess antler with my NSK Electer micromotor grinder and tiny carbide ball burs. Don’t bother with anything but carbide burs, because metals and abrasive materials like antler ruin steel burs very quickly.

Above I’ve carved the white of the eyeball to the correct size, and carved (not drilled) a hole for the ebony pupil.

Here I’m using a tiny Sherline™ metal cutting lathe to machine a very tiny tapered ebony peg. Tapered again so I’ll get such a tight fit you won’t be able to detect a seam where the black ebony contacts the white antler. Turning such a tiny tapered peg takes a good bit of finesse…

I’ve glued the ebony peg in place with superglue. These tiny double inlaid eyes are about the only place I find superglue useful for anything other than a temporary hold.

Here’s the finished, really creepy double inlaid eye.

And a few more views, just in case you haven’t gotten bored with it so far…

The tellurium copper Tavern Ring turned out so well it needs a desktop stand. Above I’m creating the stand out of black walnut and naturally shed elk antler.

Here’s the Tavern Ring temporarily installed in the walnut display box. I need to add a turned round of moose antler over the round central area, so I’ll be able to use a tapered antler peg to retain the Tavern Ring.

Above are all the pieces of the stand.

How do you hold a Tavern Ring (which is actually a small single finger brass knuckle). Like so…

And the finished tellurium copper Tavern Ring in its’ stand.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Knapadonia Challenge Coin Tutorial

I’m curious to see if I can make this work: a coining die so I can create small copper challenge coins in my little 20 ton press. Every year, I try to create an art object as a fundraising opportunity for a local knapping group I attend. August is our annual “knap-in” at Knapadonia, located on the North end of Whidbey Island, near Seattle. Hopefully these little challenge coins will raise funds for “Krapadonia” – the porta-potties we rent for the attendees.

Here’s the start of creating a CNC’d coin die out of 12L14 Ledloy steel. I’ve chosen this particular steel because it will machine well in my tiny little Nomad 883 desktop CNC mill, and because I have it on hand in the correct diameter. As so many have pointed out in my Facebook and Instagram posts, yes, harden-able tool steel would make a better, longer lasting die. Also, as several have pointed out with the authority of experts, that my tiny 20 ton press won’t work, that a 100 ton press would be the smallest that would be capable of such a feat. Now

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, with the hindsight of having done the “impossible,” I’ve rediscovered what I learned so many times before. It seems I’ve spent my life accomplishing the impossible, only to find out that I’m not particularly extraordinary, just that “impossible” is simply the state of someone else’s mind. I’ve also found that a closed mind and an open mouth seem to be natural partners…

Above are the Ledloy steel blank, with the center point already located and marked, along with some blue painter’s tape and some copper wire for wrapping.

The blue painter’s tape creates a little well for containing a puddle of coolant. I wrap the copper wire around the base of the painter’s tape in case the coolant I’ll use (WD-40™) decides to attack the glue of the tape. Have I mentioned I’m a belt and suspenders kind of guy?

Here’s the die blank installed in the CNC mill, with a small puddle of coolant. Below are the Feeds and Speeds I used for milling the steel die.
Nomad 883 Feeds and Speeds (mild steel)
RPM     Depth of Cut     Feed                      Plunge
8800      0.002 inches        3.0 inches/min     1.0 inches/min

Of course, the die isn’t the only bits I’ll need to pull this off. I’ll also need a flat faced steel pusher and a large tube to keep the pusher, copper coin blank and die all aligned while I apply 20 tons (40,000 pounds per square inch) of pressure.

Above are the completed steel die, aluminum alignment tube and flat faced steel pusher.

Here’s how the parts go together…

Above is the first pressing from the challenge coin die. I had a 3/4″ circle of 1/4″ thick annealed tellurium copper for the first attempt. I’m going to call this one a failure…while it looks good

, it took 7 or 8 annealings and 20 ton pressings to get a complete impression. Too much work, so I’ll make another shallower die and try again.

Above is a closer view of the first pressing.

Above is the new die with a shallower arrowhead milled into the surface

, hopefully to take fewer pressings to obtain a good impression. I’ve also engraved the lettering around the edges. BUT, oops…do you see the problem? Talked myself into it, out of it, and into it again. That’s what I get for doing critical work when I’m tired…

Above, I’m using my Lindsay Palm Control Airgraver to hand engrave the lettering for the coin.

Above, the resulting copper coin after just 2 pressings and annealings. I’ll take that – time to make the lettering for the back and start production… It kind of looks like an ancient Greek coin with the backward lettering…

So, I lathe-turned away the lettering, at the same time making the arrowhead a little shallower – probably a good thing! Above, I’m engraving the new lettering, properly mirror-imaged on the coin die this time.

Above is the completed coin die, with mirrored lettering. Much better…

Here’s the first pressing with the corrected coining die. Only two pressings and annealings, and a good impression.

Here’s the production version of the Knapadonia Challenge Coin die system, with all the bits and bobs of the die system. In order to get by with the smaller press and multiple pressings, I needed two different steel pusher cylinders. There was no problem re-indexing the front face (arrowhead) of the coin after the first pressing, but I didn’t have much faith that I would be able to index the reverse side die, so I made the first pressing with the blank faced steel pusher, then re-annealed the coin and used the engraved “not all who wander” steel pusher for the second pressing. I also made the first pressing while the copper coin was red hot with the smooth pusher.

Above, engraving the “not all who wander” lettering for the reverse of the coin.

The completed “not all who wander” pusher.

Above are 4 views of the first coin. I wanted these to look like ancient Roman or Greek coins, and I think I achieved that…

So, now it’s time to begin coin production. I weighed out multiple bits of clean scrap copper, approximately 0.4 ounces each. I determined the quantity by weighing the original tellurium copper scrap blank that just happened to turn out about perfect. A blind-squirrel moment for me (even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while)!

Above I’m using an oxyacetylene torch to melt the scrap copper into a (mostly) round blob, then into the pickle for quench and copper skin oxide removal. Don’t forget to use your proper light filter googles – the acetylene flame is dangerously bright and can burn your eyes.

Above is the first batch of copper blobs, ready to hammer (somewhat) flat on the anvil.

Here they are after hammering flat. I test each one agains the aluminum alignment tube to make certain they aren’t to large in any dimension to fit inside the tube. Finding out they’re too big while glowing hot isn’t the best of times to try and adjust their diameter…

Above, the first few completed, along with a few silver challenge coins ‘cause I can…

The Knapadonia Challenge Coins are complete. Most copper, a few in silver. It took two pressings each in a 20 ton press to get a full impression. They kind of look like I just dug up a hoard of ancient Roman coins. Turns out the impossible isn’t impossible if you understand a little metallurgy and use a bit of ingenuity…

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Knapped Steel Neck Knife

Last August, I spent a week working at our local knap-in, where lots of stone tool knappers come and hobknob with each other. Lots of work, but lots of fun as well!

While at the knap-in, I saw a friend’s artwork (see the lovely little stone neck knives above, with decorated rawhide sheaths), and decided to make something like them, only mine will be made in steel, not rock.

I started today on the blade

, roughing it out from a steel bar.

Above is the roughed out blade and tiny antler handle.

Above I’m using an angle grinder to carve the blade to a lens-shaped cross section.  At this point the blade is roughed out and ready to begin carving knapping flake scars in it.

Above is the Foredom handpiece with narrow sanding drum I’ll carve the flake scars with.

Here are the first few flake scars carved in.

Here I’ve finished carving the blade

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, blued it to dark color, and made a copper cap for the end of the antler handle. Next, I’ve got to glue it all up.

Above, I’m getting the knife glued up. I have to start on the rawhide sheath, engrave the knife butt, and decide what will go on the front of the sheath. Oh, and have to make a chain and hardware for the neck chain. Lots of work yet.

I’m working on the sheath today. I’ve used regular vegetable tanned leather to make the liner

, glued up with contact cement. I drilled the holes in the drill press with a sharpened finishing nail as an awl. You can see the little piece of goat rawhide I’ll use for the covering, and the copper rings for attaching the chain.

I finished the knife and engraved the little copper buttcap, but haven’t finished the sheath yet.  The above photos courtesy of

Finally got it finished, with copper chain and hardware, and a tiny copper snake sheath decoration.  The above photos also courtesy of

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling


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Stag Beetle Tavern Ring Tutorial

Starting a “Tavern Ring” (with thanks to for the name I blatantly stole from him…), in tellurium copper. I’m planning to add a stainless steel inlay using my hare-brained scheme technique. Hope it works…

Marking out and cutting the blank to size. The little walnut doodad on the left is a mockup of the tavern ring.

Above, I’m CNC milling the teeth into the front side of the tellurium copper blank, using 1/8 inch diameter carbide square end mill and a 1/16 inch diameter carbide ball nose end mill, no coolant.


, the CNC is milling out the finger hole.

Here are the teeth seen from from the edge. I’m going to have to cut the cusps into these things…a dentist friend of mine took a look at these and remarked that the original teeth scanned for the computer model must have belonged to a pretty old person.

Carving the cusps with carbide burs.

Doing a little dental work on the CNC’d teeth on the tellurium copper Tavern Ring. Notice the 24 karat gold filling…

The finished tellurium copper blank can be seen in the above two images.

Starting to add a 1/8 inch thick 416 stainless steel stag beetle to the tellurium copper Tavern Ring. I’ll use a laser printer transfer to put my design on the steel

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, then engrave those lines with my Lindsay Airgraver. The engraved lines will help my jeweler’s saw blade track better as I saw out the beetle.

Sawing with a 2/0 Rio Grande Laser Gold jeweler’s saw blade…a lot of sawing.

Above is the beetle completely separated from the parent metal, and laid in place on the tavern ring. About 2 hours with a jeweler’s saw…

Work holding small parts is always a problem. I often find my little antique pin vise useful for holding tiny things while I clean them up with a jeweler’s file.

Two 20 ton pressings installed the stainless steel stag beetle in the tellurium copper Tavern Ring.

Moving that much metal deformed the copper, and in hammering it back into shape, the beetle popped out. I used that as an opportunity to slip in some silver solder, then punched the copper sides in flush with the steel. That puppy ain’t going anywhere now… Compare how close the copper is pushed up against the sides of the steel in this image with the previous image.

Starting to hand engrave and carve the stainless steel stag beetle in the tellurium copper Tavern Ring. Above, I’ve engraved the body part separations in a lot deeper.

Above, I’m using a carbide bur to begin sculpting the beetle jaws.

Most of what you see here has been done with carbide burs in my NSK micromotor grinder.

Above, I’ve used a tiny scraper to begin cleaning up the striations left by the little carbide burs.

Here’s the head being sculpted and smoothed with tiny punches.



, the steel parts of the beetle have been completed, and I’ve added some patina ‘cause I’m impatient and I want to see how it will look when finished.

Above, engraving the legs of the stainless steel stag beetle in the tellurium copper Tavern Ring. A bit fiddly, but it’s necessary….and there are six of them…

Above, I’ve excavated the background with carbide burs. the legs are still flat and square at this point.

Above, I’ve used a tiny punch to round over the tops of a leg. You can see the difference between the top leg and the square/flat bottom leg. You can see the tiny punch I made from an old grinding bur that did the sculpting.

Finished the right side legs of the stainless steel stag beetle in the tellurium copper Tavern Ring. See the difference between the finished legs on the right side and the unfinished left side legs?

I’ve had a request to see the Stag Beetle Tavern Ring in hand to get a sense of the actual size. Ask and ye shall receive…

The Stag Beetle Tavern Ring is a single finger knuck (SFK).  2 7/8 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide by 1/4 inches thick (51.7mm x 38.1mm x 6.35mm), the body is machined and hand carved and hand engraved by Tom Sterling of tellurium copper. The finger hole is 1 inch in diameter (25.4mm).  The hand carved and hand engraved stag beetle is created from 416 stainless steel.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Hydraulic Press Inlay Tutorial

Another hare-brained scheme – I have a couple of leftover stainless steel cutouts from making my better half’s earrings. It occurred to me to press them into thick copper for a pendant. Here’s the result so far…

Above are the two stainless steel remnants and a 1/8 inch thick piece of copper bar.

I’m pretty much ad libbing this as I go along. I’ve placed the two steel remnants in a “pleasing” arrangement and superglued them down so they won’t move.

Above, I’ve placed the copper and superglued steel remnants in the press. The big round chunk of steel I’m using as a “pusher.” My press is designed for forging hot steel, so the surfaces are a little rough, and the smoother face of the steel “pusher” won’t mar things as badly.

Here’s the entire hydraulic press, with the pusher and victim installed.

Above, I’ve pressed (3 times at 20 tons) the leftover 410 stainless steel cutouts into the annealed 1/8 inch thick copper bar. Notice how the sides of the copper bar are no longer straight, and are bulging a little bit. When the press shoved the steel into the copper, the incompressible metal has to go somewhere, hence the bulges.

I was planning to remove the cutouts and solder them in, but they’re stuck tight, so I’ve just used a textured punch to move the copper over flush to the steel, very similar to Japanese-style inlays. These steel inlays aren’t going to budge… Compare how tight the copper is against the sides of the steel in this image with the previous image. The previous image has large, obvious gaps, and now I can’t even see the cracks between the copper and steel in the microscope.

Above, I’ve shaped the copper bar into a teardrop pendant shape.

Here I’ve engraved the steel gecko and frog man with crosshatches reminiscent of Australian Aboriginal art. As I indicated, I’m pretty much just going with the flow here.

Above, I’ve begun carving the copper surface with small carbide burs. I don’t really have much of a plan here

, just to do something that looks a bit like rough rock.

Here’s the Frog Man Gecko Pendant finished. 410 stainless steel and copper, about 2 inches tall. I’ll call this another successful hare-brained scheme with a promising technique. Easiest inlay I’ve ever done…I’m beginning to think there’s something in this technique…

The press/inlay harebrained scheme worked out so well I decided to see if it was a fluke. So, here’s a 410 stainless steel dead dried minnow on the beach, in copper.


, I’ve engraved my dead minnow into 1/16 inch thick 410 stainless steel. I’ve found that engraving patterns into the metal before I saw them out with a fine jeweler’s saw helps the tiny blades to track better.

Here’s the sawn out minnow in place on 1/8 inch thick copper bar. I’ve superglued it into place.

Above is the steel minnow installed with a single 20 ton press. Only one was needed since there’s not much surface area to this tiny minnow. Looking good so far… Notice how much the sides of the copper have been distorted by the metal being shoved out of the way. Don’t get your finger caught in the press!!!!

The above two image illustrate pushing the copper up flush against the steel sides of the dead minnow with a small textured punch.

Above is the business end of the tiny punch I use for moving the copper. It also leaves a nice texture. I simply ground a 3/32 inch square piece of high carbon steel round, and to the diameter I thought I needed, then engraved crosshatches in the face. Hardened with a plumber’s torch and quenched in beeswax, I don’t even bother to temper these.

Above, I’m using flat gravers and a flat punch to sculpt and detail the dried fish.

Here’s a closeup of the minnow’s head after trimming the sides with a flat graver.

Above, I’ve spent some time refining the flat facets left by the flat gravers with a small round flat faced punch. Also beginning to detail the gill section.

I haven’t given you much of an indication of the size of this tiny minnow, so here you go…

Well, I guess by now you know how I operate, so there has to be a little gold…

I envision this pretty classic Japanese themed dead fish as drying on a beach, so there needs to be some small rocks…

I’ve used a graver in several passes around the rocks to cut their outlines quite deeply.


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, I’ve used carbide burs to excavate around the rocks to expose the sand.

And a little patina since I’m dying to see how this will look when finished… I’ve also used a tiny flat faced punch to round and slightly texture the rocks.

I’ve used a really tiny bur to put in what I call “scribble” texture. To the naked eye, this really does look like sand.

With the addition of rocks and sand texture, the Dead Fish on the Beach Pendant is finished. Looks like my hare-brained inlay scheme is a success…

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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