Dragonfly Blossom (B30) William Henry Studios Knife Scales – Part 1

B30-Tom-Sterling B30-Tom-Sterling_Detail B30-Sterling-butterfly-side

Lately, I’ve been engraving and carving a set of knife scales for William Henry Studios, a real challenge for me.  This is a set of scales for their B30 (Gentac) model, and fairly large as their folding knives go.  The scales are 416 stainless steel, and arrived with a mirror polish and very finely machined – almost like jewelry in their own right.  You can color me impressed with William Henry fit and finish.  The challenge comes from the large area of real estate these scales provide, almost intimidating, and the need for an elegant and appropriate design.  After many false starts along the design trail, I finally came up with the theme of dragonfly, butterfly and cherry blossoms, done in Japanese shishiaibori style.

Above is the first step in engraving, cutting the outlines of the design.  I’ve chosen a  Japanese-style where all the carved detail (except the inlays) is at or below the surface of the metal (shishiaibori).  No background is removed.  Previous to this, I removed the mirror finish with a 900 grit stone, leaving a nice satin finish.

Here’s how I go about it.  I (see Step 1) begin with very deep cuts with a 116 degree Lindsay Universal graver.  This is a pretty wide graver, and I follow up by recutting as deeply as I can with a narrower 90 degree (or square) graver (Step 2).  Then, I recut even deeper with an onglette graver (Step 3).  I find the onglette graver is a fairly weak graver point, and is easily broken, so I spend a bit of time on this step resharpening the onglette.  Each subsequent cutting makes the line deeper and deeper.

I need a really deep cut here, as it is the key to getting a good three dimensional illusion later on in the shishiaibori process.

Above, a closer view of the cuts after the three steps.  Later

, I’ll come back with a flat graver and round over the branch inside the deep cuts.

Thanks for looking!

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