View Full Version : engraving & stock carving... how to get started ???

Magnum Wheel Man
July 21, 2008, 04:50 PM
was just reading Wildalaskas thread about his buddys engraved guns for sale... the guy does awesome work...I have a couple old custom rifles at home... one has an incredible piece of birds eye / flame maple for a stock... however it is pretty crudely fitted to the rifle...I've always ( since I got into guns as an adult... I'm a collector now, but have a couple junky pieces I could play with just for the sake of playing ), wanted to try some customizing...

Metal work... I have a couple books on engraving... but to a total newbie, who has worked a little in metal machining, & coarse metal shaping... I just am having a hard time even thinking about putting a tool to a gun, & trying to put a finish on one... I know I should practice on plate stock etc. & once I'm to that point, I already have some cheap ones to graduate on to practice... but how did you guys actually start ??? anyone start cold turkey, or did you have a local mentor to get you going???

Wood working...we have quite a bit of naturally dried black walnut... & over the years, I've saved the best figured pieces... I had been thinking about doing a few revolver grips... maybe starting with what at least appears easy, my old Rohm 22 revolver, or I've been looking at knife handle supplys particularly semi precious gem stones, & micartas for my NAA mini revolver... eventually I'd like to get good enough to put the finishing touches on that flame maple stocked rifle, making it look more professional... but again, I have no mentor, so I'm having trouble even knowing where to start... seems like doing a set of grips for the mini, or the Rohm might be a good winter project...

I just need some moral support... how did you guys get started, & how do I get good enough that I don't waste the materials or the gun ???

Bill DeShivs
July 21, 2008, 06:35 PM
See my web site.
Engraving is not easy to learn. There are several engraving schools.
"The Art of Engraving" by J. B. Meek is a very good book to learn from.
Wood working will be a trial and error endeavor. Just try it.

July 29, 2008, 11:00 AM
I can't speak about engraving, (wish I could) but as for the wood part, it's not realy hard. I've made stocks for a Mosin Nagant, Jap 7.7 and a 8MM Mauser out of walnut and oak, I start with a very rough cut shape and then chanle for the barrle and action takeing measurments from the old stock. ( A good caliper, square and some very sharp chisels is a must, a drillpress is handy too.) Once you get the action and barrle fitted you can make the exterier of the stock to your liking. I use a belt sander, hand grinder and a rotary rasp that chucks in a drill for rough shapping then on to electric hand sander and lots of sand paper.
Dem-Bart make a nice set of chekering tools for under $50. I played a round with some scrap walnut and then layed out a simple patern and jumped in with both feet. Its not real hard but very time consuming. I've got one side of a thumb hole stock for my jap done and I'm at least five hours into it, hopefully the secound half will go a little faster as I get more practice.
I say go for it, you probably won't end up with a musium piece but it will be all you and thier won't be another like it in the world.

Magnum Wheel Man
July 29, 2008, 11:24 AM
thanks for the replys guys...

I'm wanting to try the 2 pistol grips this winter... ( see if I get time ) the NAA mini aught to be pretty easy... in fact the stock grips fit pretty loosely into the grip frame, & rely on the screw to keep the outer lines of the grip panels lined up with the grip frame ( they probably do that for mass produced guns ), but I'd think a better fit ( internally ) on the grip frame, before shaping the outer shape would be better ???

since the mini is a limited edition laser engraved gun, ( it comes stock with pretty ugly black MOP grips ), I've been thinking about something much "brighter" & been looking at knife handle making supplys like simulated Abalone, or even composite semi precious stone like composite black lace turquoise or ??? I understand the brittle products may require a layer of silicone or similar product between the grip frame & grip panels, but think if done right, some very fancy grips could be done up, that would still be durable enough to shoot ( even magnum guns, if done right )

I'm not ready to jump into the engraving or rifle stock shaping yet... but if the simple handgun grips go well... who knows what the next several winters will hold ???

Bill DeShivs
July 29, 2008, 01:45 PM
You'll have fun!
On the mini grips, you can cut out a piece of sheet metal to fit exactly inside the grip frame and then glue and pin it to the inside of the grips to hold them in place.
The composite stone might be to fragile for grips.

James K
July 29, 2008, 02:49 PM
Engraving has been described as "art in steel" and that is what it is. If your artistic talent is limited to rough sketches and stick figures as mine is, trying to engrave a gun or carve a stock would be pointless. If I can't draw a picture on paper, I sure can't draw one in steel. At least I can toss the paper and prevent too much embarassment; steel is permanent.

Does a community college or school anywhere around have an art class? Yes, you can teach yourself, but the results usually look like it. Learn to draw, to do scrolls and curves and landscapes and portraits, then try doing the same in steel or wood. That, IMHO, will be the easy part.


July 30, 2008, 10:56 AM
Magnum, your best bet would be to take a class. In five days, you'll be farther along than I was after a year of trying to learn on my own. It still takes time and practice. Don't expect to come back from a class and jump right into gun engraving. I cut practice for a year before I touched a gun.

Check out the Firearms Engravers Guild of America, www.fega.com . It's a great group of people that are more than willing to share their knowledge. Many of the top members also participate on another forum that is dedicated to hand engraving, http://igraver.com/forum/index.php .

If you have any questions, post them here or email me.


Magnum Wheel Man
July 30, 2008, 10:59 AM
Thanks for the links DC...

July 30, 2008, 11:45 AM
I'm happy to help. Something I forgot to mention.....January 23-25 is the Firearms Engravers/ Custom Gunmaker Exhibition at the Silver Legacy in Reno. Members from each guild display their best work. It's a great chance to meet and talk with some of the most incredible artists and craftsmen in the country. Each guild also holds free seminars on Monday morning that are open to anyone. The engravers will also have a critiquing session where the best of the best will judge your work and offer tips and techniques to help you improve. These guys are the reason I'm able to do this for a living.

I'll post more about the show as it gets closer.


August 3, 2008, 03:55 AM
A friend of mine is a professional gun engraver. The company he buys his tools from, has an engraving school in Kansas. I think it is a week or two long. If you are interested, PM me and I'll get info from him. He says to fill a 55 gal drum with practice pieces of steel before you start to engrave on a gun.

August 4, 2008, 01:07 PM
I may have a little help.I was told start with lead easy to work and not hard to get,you can always make sinkers with the rest.Send me your address and i will send you a book i have .good luck.