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Everything posted by tsterling

  1. I use BirchwoodCasey Super Blue (cold gun bluing) for a nice, easy brown color on clean copper, applied at room temperature with an ear bud. Assuming you’re in the USA, most gun dealers carry it. Note SUPER Blue...they have just plain Blue as well, not what you want.
  2. Solid effort! You should feel like your feet are firmly planted and well along on the path. You appear to be able to recognize the problems, which is a MAJOR engraving skill and not easily learned. Recognition is the key to knowing what to work on. Well done! Keep on cutting... Tom
  3. Sounds like a plan. Keep us up to date with how you’re doing.
  4. Don’t mistake “quicker” for “quick and easy.” Quick and easy really means lesser craftsmanship. There’s probably a language issue here, I’m referring to smaller projects that you can accomplish in less time. Fine engraving is really about surface area. 10 square centimeters can be engraved faster than 100 square centimeters. You’re craftsmanship should always be the best you can achieve. I consider a major project to be something that takes me more than a few days of engraving time...and I engrave for about 3 hours per engraving day. For example, a hand-sized folding pocket knife with flat metal scales typically takes me 2 weeks to engrave (with only one side engraved, ignoring the side with springs, clips, etc). That doesn’t include any design time... A complex design (100 percent coverage) of a single knife scale will easily take me a month from concept to transfer-ready. Design is the hard part, and I seem to develop most of the concept in bed at 3 AM. An uninterrupted night’s sleep would be nice... Of course, all of these are parallel processes since I’m doing other things at the same time. If you’re also having to create the knife, then the time is increased considerably. Hence, I do about one sole-authorship knife per year, although I’m probably averaging less than that lately. There’s a lot to be said for an income stream in between major projects. It’s difficult to progress in engraving and bladesmithing at the same time. You’re trying to avoid putting lesser engraving on a better knife, or better engraving on a lesser knife. But, it’s the nature of the beast! As for your practice plates, take a look at the 2 on the lower left and compare those with the circular one you just completed! Enormous difference! You’ve come a long way! Keep on cutting... Don’t reuse your practice plates. Steel is cheap, and it’s important for you to be able to look back and see your footprints on the journey!
  5. I used an Amscope in an engraving class In 2009. It isn’t nearly as nice as a Meiji or Leica, but is adequate and useable. Shame about EDC not having arrived in Norway. Look around for small things that would be popular with armchair Vikings and make those. Start a trend, maybe small seax-style kiridashi with inlaid runes? Samurai cowboy meets Conan meets Ragnar. Forge weld mild steel handle layer on top of blade steel so you don’t have to worry about inlays after the quench. Something quicker than major projects for a more consistent income stream. Let’s see the background removal...
  6. 100 mm (~4 inches) isn’t enough room to work under. That’s why you hear all the talk about 0.5 power Barlow lenses, which cut the magnification in half but consequently approximately double the working distance. So you’ll need a 0.5x Barlow (auxiliary lens) if that scope will accept one. You’ll also need a good turntable to make the microscope useable. Unfortunately, there’s very little In engraving that isn’t priced in multiple hundreds of dollars. Before long, you’re into real money. Is the EDC movement/market a thing in Norway? Perhaps think about making some small items you can sell and start saving. That’s how I’ve upgraded lots of my equipment. But the bad news is collecting the toys never ends... Remember, he who dies with the most toys, wins!
  7. A couple of questions here: Presumably you’re using a microscope? If so, what magnification are you using? Try taking a picture of a partial cut (chip attached) through the microscope with your phone camera, posed just as you would normally cut it. Maybe it will help me diagnose your difficulty. Generally, I tend to look at the side edge of the graver where it touches my pattern line, instead of the point. With a microscope, you have three choices of where to cut a line...inside the line, outside the line, or on the line. Or, if you prefer, left of the line, right of the line, or on the line. Each will make your design look a bit different. For instance, cutting a circle...outside cuts will visually enlarge the circle, inside cuts will reduce the circle, and on the line will be in between. When the chip impedes you, then cut it off and restart your cut. I also don’t tend to watch the graver at the exact point of cut, but am looking a bit farther forward and trusting my skill to guide the graver correctly. In actuality, it’s probably a bit of both anticipating the future and checking/correcting the graver position. It’s that practicing thing to gain skill again. For your penance, add five kilometers to your practice total before you can apply for your skill license... I also tend to keep the cut in the upper half of the microscope field of view...that way I’m sort of looking from the side, rather than immediately above the cut. I’ve never asked this question of other engravers, so I don’t know if this is normal or just me... Chip curls getting in the way isn’t something that bothers me very often, until they start to form a complete circle...then I cut them off, and continue on.
  8. That looks a lot better! I think you’ve got the essentials of the technique, now you just need to perfect it with a few more kilometers of practice. I’m betting you’ve reached a threshold point...you’ve broken the code and will now continue to rapidly improve. Keep up the good work! Tom
  9. Yes, that’s the big bugaboo about learning to engrave...learning graver control. That comes with practice, practice that is measured in kilometers, rather than time! As to your end cuts/corners, try not flicking the chip out at the corner. Just leave the bur and it will be removed when you intersect the line from the other direction at the corner. Runes are tailor-made for this technique... The lines should be little more than shade cuts, just to visually stop the inlay from blending with the background, providing an “edge.” The eye is extremely adept about detecting edges...probably an evolutionary adaptation. Your distant ancestors survived because they could spot the leopard in the tall grass. Presumably you have a Lindsay Airgraver? For shade-sized cuts, turn down the air pressure to a low setting (below 30 psi) and if you have a Classic, adjust for short power strokes. An ultralight piston might be of use here as well.
  10. Pretty much what Alan said...they are SO soft that any error in your graver control/technique makes a large change In the cut. It’s one of those crazy surprises, much easier to make nice, clean cuts in steel, harder to cut clean in really soft materials. Keep your gravers scrupulously sharp! You’ll probably have better luck cutting non-ferrous materials like copper, aluminum, gold or silver with tungsten carbide gravers. A lot of the soft materials will “gall,” leaving bits of material stuck to HSS steel gravers, but not carbide. Another of those logic defying things. A little bad news, your copper is going to oxidize to dark brown no matter what you do, so a long lasting shiny cut isn’t in the cards. There doesn’t seem to be anything on Earth that will keep shiny copper from oxidizing...even lacquer coverings will eventually develop a blotchy-look, so I just darken my copper to start with. That way my unsuspecting client doesn’t have an ugly surprise sometime later.
  11. On second thought and upon mature reflection, you may need to cut the tiny outlines in the copper of your inlays, since the steel will be hardened at that point. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem in your work-hardened copper, but would be a bit of a problem in soft .999 silver or 24 karat gold.
  12. Don’t forget to cut tiny outlines around your inlays if you want them to appear finely wrought and with good definition. These are almost like shade lines, and you would cut them in the steel, not the inlay. Use high magnification, go slow and be on the lookout for cutting into the inlay. Cutting into the inlay will be like a high speed car hitting a deep puddle on one side, and will want to swerve into the inlay, making a little bobble in your line. For what it’s worth, I usually use a flat graver to undercut (dovetail) the sides of the pocket perpendicular to the side wall, advancing the flat graver by about half its width each time. I’m watching for the top surface of the steel to bulge up a little, indicating I’ve made the undercut large enough. For a finely wrought appearance, i use die-sinker stones to stone the surface of the steel and inlay flat afterwards, and before I cut the tiny outlines. Best of luck! You’re doing great! Tom
  13. Thanks, Paul! It’s not difficult to be a great teacher when you’ve got a great audience!
  14. Hi Steven, Yes, I’m a knapper (or at least I play at it). That’s how I came up with this idea in the first place, so I knew how to arrange the “flake scars” in a semblance of an actual knapped blade. Not understanding how actual stone flaking works is where most attempts at “knapped steel” runs off the tracks. And I tend to use “pressure flaking” or “percussion flakingl” based on the size of the blade, just like the real world. Thanks! tom
  15. Sorry, Brian. It’s a disease, and now you’re infectious. But staying at home won’t help...if you hadn’t noticed, you caught it over the internet. It consumes your brain and your cash. There is no safe place, so embrace your inner zombie and enjoy! Tom
  16. Sorry, Brian! I didn’t mean to tip you over towards the engraving madness... But, there’s plenty of room here in Crazytown! Enjoy the ride! Tom
  17. Look at how to make “scribble texture” about halfway through this article: https://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/24166-simple-engraving-for-knifemakers/ Best of luck! Tom
  18. It looks to me like you are influenced by the Japanese art ethic, so maybe the best direction to go is with more subtle colors and enhanced textures. Maybe try something like wenge (roughish grain) with slightly sandblasted surface to enhance the grain texture. I used to carve all kinds of little things "painted" with different colored hardwoods, and ran into your problem with most of the pretty woods, so I sympathize. The only woods that I found that had even remotely stable color were yellowheart, holly and the woods that start out dark brown. Best of luck!
  19. What's wrong with the orange color? Cocobolo is a natural material, and variation is the rule of nature. Try 0000 steel wool on the surface and call it good. The handles you like will change over time as well... If it's consistency you want, then plastic or metal is the way to go. Learn to love the "happy little accidents."
  20. Orange and fresh-cut cocobolo just go together. Like most fancy woods, it will eventually go darker and brown. Don’t set it somewhere it will get warm, that will cause the oil to flow more easily, so I wouldn’t put it in the sun. Time and oxygen will do what you want.
  21. How to Carve Netsuke and Miniature Sculpture: Free PDF Download This is a link to a detailed 361 page instruction book on how to carve netsuke and miniature sculpture. The file is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

It requires Adobe Acrobat Reader http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Carving_Netsuke.pdf
  22. Absolutely sweet piece of work, Jake! Much respect. Tom
  23. There are hundreds of different rotary carving bits...I have lots of them and have spent lots of money on them, but end up using only carbide ball burrs and occasionally a long narrow tapered diamond point for tight cleanup. The best place I've found for them is here: http://www.lascodiamond.com/LascoProducts-3-32-Carbide.html I have no financial interest in this company. I've marked the ones I use for small scale/detailing in the image below. Purchase only carbide, high speed steel burs will burn out very quickly. You might find this free download of use for detailed carving with power tools: http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?page_id=315 Best of luck, Tom
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