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Old June 16, 2018, 01:57 PM   #1
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 20,194
two weeks of engraving

Just finished two weeks of engraving at TSJC NRA Summer School. The class was awesome and the younger guys did much better than any of us older guys. Must be something about hand eye coordination or ability to learn.

Anyway, the instructor Dr. Pierson taught us how to look at rococo and to distinguish the styles. For example, early English (1590-early 1800s) and American are very similar. Late 1800s English is very different. He also covered some German but ignored the oak leafs and acorns (no time to cover it). Type of scroll (circular or elliptical), true or holding (width of scroll's interior), common stem or overlap, peak or circular leafs, relieved or non-relieved leaves.

Dr. Pierson talked about canting and how to use it make the objects stand or out seem subdued. Shading lines, etc. After one week with the chasing hammer, he introduced us to the push graver and then the pneumatic engraver. Wow! The latter was awesome.

We had to sharpen our engraver bits (we had power hones and fixtures) before anything else so everyone was busy sharpening them (we had purchased blanks).

We used templates to draw them and then transfer our images onto steel plates. The procedure was simple:

1) Trace drawing on light board on paper.
2) flip paper over (not on light board) and trace again with a dark pencil.
3) cut out.
4) Apply beeswax onto steel.
5) put cut out with heavy dark pencil side down onto steel plate.
6) Burnish the paper to transfer the image onto the wax.
7) You may use a brass scribe to scratch the steel plate.

We also transferred images from engraved plates. We did a lot of practice plates just to familiarize ourselves with eye level of workpiece, canting of tool, elevation of tool, pressure on tool (not enough and you get skipping). We did lettering, circles, scrolls. With the pneumatic engraver, we also had to move our vise with our free hand. The chasing hammer was slower and we moved our body to put ourselves into the optimal position for comfort and control. BTW, we stood when we used the chasing hammer and sat when we used the pneumatic engraver.

1) Apply ink to plate
2) wipe plate down with glossy paper (think clay type magazine paper or fancier clay type paper ads)
3) Put packaging tape onto plate and burnish. Use thinner tape as it conforms to irregular surfaces better.
4) lift tape off.
5) You should have cleaned the workpiece of any oil (acetone - wear gloves).
6) When plate is clean and dry, place tape onto plate and burnish.
7) Lift tape (and if you want to keep the pattern, store it in your notebook).
8) Apply talcum powder (there are corn starched ones that are very fine and safe to use --- there was a recent lawsuit about some person getting cancer from using baby powder).
9) You may use a brass scribe to scratch the plate.

He discussed placement of engraving (must conform with flow of the fyre-arm), restoration (a lot of stuff that wasn't covered in the regular Repair I or II class) including restoration of engraving, cost estimate of jobs (the business aspect) and other things useful for gonne smiths. Some students asked him to become a full time instructor - something he doesn't want as he is retired professor of thirty years from some Texas university.

Because the classes were only one week long (engraving and advanced engraving), there isn't much time to develop skill as one would during the course of a regular semester. Still, we did decent work for novices. We'd be about half way done when he would lecture and give us another assignment. It was work, work, work but very fun and rewarding.

One nice thing about engraving since, they have the sharpeners at school as well as the power tools, you can go to school with only a small toolbox and not a big chest of tools that requires a pickup truck to haul. Additionally, they finally got the air conditioner installed and working. No more sweatbox like when I attended the regular program. If you have the time next summer sign up for Dr. Pierson's class at TSJC.
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Old June 16, 2018, 04:33 PM   #2
Bill DeShivs
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Well. let's see the work!
Bill DeShivs, Master Cutler
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Old June 16, 2018, 08:27 PM   #3
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Posts: 3,121
C'mon Gary - we want to see what you did. Engraving is an art and like all art, it takes time to learn. I have watched folks do engraving and find it fascinating. I o longer can see well enough to even give it a try but I admire anyone who takes on the challenge. Many years ago, I had a fellow ask me if I had any old "gun parts". When I asked him what he was looking for - his reply was "anything I can practice engraving on". I sorted through parts and pieces and found some old single and double shotgun receivers that were stripped - some old trigger guards, etc. and gave them to him. He was thrilled and when he showed me his work, I was very impressed.

We'd love to see what you did at the school!
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old June 16, 2018, 11:51 PM   #4
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 20,194
I have to take a picture and then figure out how to post it. Let me work on it tomorrow.
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Old June 17, 2018, 11:05 AM   #5
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Old June 17, 2018, 06:36 PM   #6
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without pictures, it didn't happen.
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