Jump to content

First inlay - a single line...


Recommended Posts

Alright, so I am preparing to do some serious inlay work on a blade I am working on.

I've never done this before - so I figured I'd start with some test plates.

 

After making myself a flat point chisel graver and a brass punch today, I cut a deep groove into some 15n20 steel I had lying around, cut into the bottom of the groove from both sides to lift up "teeth", and then proceeded to punch the 1mm copper wire into it. Went surprisingly well.

 

First Inlay.jpg

 

Next step will be to cut grooves in the form of runes into a piece of steel, harden it, and then do inlay - as this will be the most likely method I will use on the actual blade.

 

It's not  much, but it is a start. :)

 

Sincerely, Alveprins.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Brian Dougherty said:

Nice.  You are one step ahead of me on that road, but I hope to be following someday soon.

 

What vise did you buy?  Those things are quite pricey...

 

Thanks man, you'll get there.

 

I bought one of those Chinese vices. Only thing I could afford unfortunately.

It is no doubt low quality, but it does the job for now. In time I'd love to have one of those Lindsay or GRS vices, but... still waiting to win the lottery... :P

 

EDIT:

Would love to get one of these : 650 USD.

DSC02251-b_small.jpg

 

Edited by Alveprins
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I couldn't pry the $650 out of my wallet this spring for something to just try my hand at engraving.  I was also feeling a bit nationalistic at the time and felt guilty buying something imported.

 

I tried making a few cuts using a normal vise, and quickly realized how difficult using a fixed vise makes everything so I out my gravers aside for a while. I've seen some nice homebrew versions, but time has been short for that sort of thing.

 

I'm looking forward to watching your progress.  Some engraved runes would go well with your blade style :)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I still use an ordinary vise.  Not ideal for engraving, but I'm used to it.

Did you undercut the sides of your channel, or just key the bottom?  I have better luck with undercuts than keys on thin lines.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Did you undercut the sides of your channel, or just key the bottom?  I have better luck with undercuts than keys on thin lines.

That is what I learned today... see below. ;)

Inlay Collage.jpg

 

So, to answer your question Mr. Longmire - no, I did not side-cut, because I have yet to make a proper tool for that. :lol:

If you look at the top right corner picture, you can see that the first line of the rune "E" which ironically looks more like an "M" - did not take properly.

 

So I am going to have to make myself a knife chisel of some sort to get into those bottom corners and carve out a nice dove-tail.^_^

 

The "T" stuck pretty well though, and the bottom line remained solid throughout the quench, annealing and final sanding.

 

I think I need to make a new punching tool though:

Inlay 06.jpg

 

I am thinking maybe I ought to use soft steel instead of brass for the punch. It mushrooms severely, even when simply punching softened copper wire. I am starting to think maybe soft steel is the way to go instead. I don't know how you guys go about it.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alveprins.

 

Edited by Alveprins
Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you see the need to undercut. B)  You can use a 60-degree triangular graver, an onglette (long pointed oval) graver, or just a wide flat chisel used to punch rather than cut the slight dovetail needed.

 

For burnishing down the wire, your best tool is a highly polished hardened steel burnisher.  I set my inlays with a polished domed hammer, followed by chasing it down with the polished burnisher driven by a small hammer.  Mine is made from 16mm diameter coil spring and looks like a chisel with a half-round edge rather than a sharp edge.  But that half-round edge must be hard and polished to work.  

 

I usually leave a surface that needs to be drawfiled, which seems to help with the gaps and such.   If you are working from a finished surface and want to leave minimal cleanup, either the hardened steel burnisher or an agate burnisher can be used.  Agate like to chip when it hits steel chips, though.  I need to update my old tutorial with better pics...

 

 

I have been trying to find a thread about a later hawk, with no luck, so here are some images of inlaying a large silver chunk into a hawk head, step by step.

 

1. make inlay and glue it to prepared steel.

Burt's hawk 4.jpg

2. scribe a line around inlay, unglue and remove.

Burt's hawk 5.jpg

3. cut outline with point graver.

Burt's hawk 6.jpg

4. clean out interior by whatever means works, in this case a big flat die-sinker's chisel followed by smaller flat gravers, then undercut and key the ground:

Burt's hawk 7.jpg

5. snap inlay into place, hit firmly with really big hammer followed by driving it in with burnisher:

Burt's hawk 8.jpg

7. drawfile smooth, then wet sand.

Burt's hawk 9.jpg

7. Engrave and compare to model:

 

Burt's hawk 11.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I happen to be working from home, I just took some pics of the inlay hammer and the burnishing chisel.  The peen of the hammer is radiused like the chisel.  I haven't used either in over a year, thus the light rust... :rolleyes:

 

20201022_152852.jpg

 

20201022_152858.jpg

 

20201022_152916.jpg

 

20201022_152924.jpg

 

The hammer is used first on small inlays, and as follow-up on larger ones that I start with a much bigger hammer for the initial blow.  Note the rocker on the burnisher face.  This prevents digging in and leaving bad dents on your work.  Use it by starting in the center of the (already hammered-in) inlay.  Tilt the chisel to around 50 degrees relative to the steel and gently drive it along, letting it both compress the copper and slide along it to the end.  A little spit for lubrication is a good idea.  

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info Mr. Longmire!

 

I decided to switch from my Lindsay Airgraver punch to a good'old hammer - and smashed the damn wire in. (After using the airgraver to freshen up on the "teeth")

 

Test - complete.jpg

 

I think I'll buy a small ball-peen hammer - or maybe forge myself something small for doing this on the real blade. The hammer I used today was .. a bit big. :)

 

I ordered some graver blanks and templates from Lindsay today, which will help me with the gold inlay. Seems he's got a couple of graver models specifically designed for the purpose, so... But I still need to make myself a little "smasher" for mushing the stuff in. ;)

 

EDIT: By the way, seems to me Ferric Chloride eats both copper and gold. Any suggestions for an acid that will etch (for the most part at least) the steel?

Edited by Alveprins
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

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

0AA1D6DF-B0AB-4D19-9AF7-5CAFA5458D29.jpeg

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, tsterling said:

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.

 

Actually, I just softened my test-plate to do a trial outline around the runes. :lol:

 

Anyhow, I can cut the outline before hardening. It will not be shiny after that, but the engravings will be in damascus steel anyway, which will be etched - so. Will make little difference.

If I want it shiny though, cutting in the inlayed metal itself might be the solution as you suggest.

In fact, I think that in hardened steel, the graver would more or less just skit up against the hardened edge of the groove, while the inlayed metal would be cut easily by the graver.

 

Why do you think it would be problematic in soft .999 silver or 24k gold btw?

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Alveprins said:

Why do you think it would be problematic in soft .999 silver or 24k gold btw?

 

First, I'm glad a REAL engraver like Tom chimed in!  Listen to him, not me.

 

Second, Fine silver and gold are so soft they're nigh impossible to cut a clean line in.  Silver especially is "gummy," for want of a better term.  It likes to grab the graver and pull the point in deep, leaving little balls of silver in its wake.  It's actually easier to do fine silver by pulling the graver backwards (by hand, no power applied).  It just presses the line in.  It's amazing how much harder .925 silver is.  And I've never used 24k gold.  9k is all I've used.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

 

... Fine silver and gold are so soft they're nigh impossible to cut a clean line in.  Silver especially is "gummy," for want of a better term.  It likes to grab the graver and pull the point in deep, leaving little balls of silver in its wake.  It's actually easier to do fine silver by pulling the graver backwards (by hand, no power applied)...

 

Thanks man, I had no idea. Pressing it is! ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Alveprins said:

 

Why do you think it would be problematic in soft .999 silver or 24k gold btw?

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.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, tsterling said:

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.
 

...I just darken my copper to start with. That way my unsuspecting client doesn’t have an ugly surprise sometime later.

 

I just call it "patina". ;)

 

Anyhow, interesting thing this with the types of graver alloys and how they all function.

 

I did all the cuts today with a tungsten graver, althought I did the channels in the steel with a HSS one. I've ordered a bunch of tungsten graver blanks from Lindsay though, as well as som.. what did he call them.. M42? Tougher than HSS.

 

Anyhow, I tried to outline my inlay today.. ended up like this. :rolleyes:

Outline attempt 01.jpg

 

I started out with the "line" - which was catastrophic. Dug into the copper real quick.

I then moved on to the "T", which was not much better.

I am much more satisfied with the "E" (M) though, and the S.

 

My biggest challenge her is keeping correct distance from the inlay itself, and depth control with the graver.

Also, where my cuts end, and I flick out the chip - I tend to leave a noticeable transition from broad to narrow cut, due to the graver going from deep to shallow.

 

I am currently working on a brand new practice plate though. I'll upload pics of my next results - unless I'm boring you guys. ;)

 

Sincerely, Alveprins.

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

You can also try to stippling the background to help set it apart.  Basically using a very fine peen punch tool and making small depressions around the lettering.

 

fantastically nice job.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Alveprins said:

My biggest challenge her is keeping correct distance from the inlay itself, and depth control with the graver.

Also, where my cuts end, and I flick out the chip - I tend to leave a noticeable transition from broad to narrow cut, due to the graver going from deep to shallow.

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.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Daniel W said:

You can also try to stippling the background to help set it apart.  Basically using a very fine peen punch tool and making small depressions around the lettering.

 

fantastically nice job.

Thanks!

 

Stipling works if I frame the whole thing - which in my current project will not be possible.

I am going to put runes going down nearly the entire length of a 40cm long multibar damascus blade - so I think I am gonna have to do the outlines, or simply leave it flat - and let the etched steel surrounding the inlay create the contrast.

 

I just finished a new practise plate for myself. Going to practise doing the outlining of the inlay:

 

Pracise Plate number two.jpg

 

I tried inlaying some brass as well this time, so simulate gold - in terms of contrast relative to the steel, as well as the copper.

I learned that inlaying copper is way easier than brass.. More malleable - by far... :)

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, tsterling said:

1. 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!

 

2. 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...

 

3. 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.
 

4. 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.

 

1. Yeah, I figured as much. I want to try to fit in around 1 hour of engraving every day, along with 1 hour of drawing - but it is difficult. I get up at 04:00 to go for a 1h run, lift some weights - and then get in the car and drive to work by 06:00. Then when I arrive at home around 16:30 in the afternoon, I have to eat, pay a minimum of attention to my wife - and then - if I have any energy left in me - I have 2 hours available to either draw, engrave, forge or do general work on knife projects I've got going before having to hit the sack at 20:00. :rolleyes:

 

2. Will do!

 

3. Alright, I will try to keep it shallow on my new practice plate.

 

4. Yes, Lindsay Airgraver Classic. I'll make the adjustments you suggest. I'll replace my carbide piston with the steel one. ;) I also use the carbide graver for this work. Keeps its edge nicely, and bites well.

 

Fingers crossed I don't mess up my shiny new plate too badly, and thanks allot for your valuable input Mr. Sterling.

PS: You earned yourself another follower on Instagram. :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, I've given it somewhat of a try. I've adjusted pressure down to 10psi, switched to steel piston, lowered the idle (was way too high) and gone pretty thin - and as close as I could:

 

Fine Lines.JPG

 

I'll do the rest of the plate tomorrow. :)

 

I took the opportunity to read up on the user's manual, and man, did I need it.. haha :lol: I accidentally gained a bit more understanding of how the little thing works. So far I've been running full throttle at 80 psi with the tungsten piston - cutting both deep and shallow. With 10 psi and steel piston I gained infinitely more control in comparison with my previous setting. ^_^

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, outlining practice plate number 01 finished.

Going to flip it around, and go another round on the other side. This time, perhaps something circular... ^_^

Outlining 02.jpg

 

I think I am going to need a few more km/miles of cutting before I get my depth control at a respectable level. I feel though, that I've gotten a whole lot better at keeping correct distance to the inlay. I am now able to pretty much shave up against the edge of it. The challenge going forward - will be to keep this constant. :lol:

 

Thanks for all the feedback guys, it's been invaluable to me! :D

 

sincerely, Alveprins.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

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

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...