FRANCHI shotgun engraving

I have a beautiful Franchi Instinct SL shotgun to engrave today.

This is a wonderful shotgun, very sleek, light and well made. I’d love to own it. This will be a graduation gift from Dad & Mom to son and graduation is this Friday. Yes, this is another emergency engraving project. Made room in the que to get this engraved. Thankfully my other projects have some flexibility in their due dates.

Shotgun receiver hand engraving coming along...

Shotgun receiver hand engraving coming along…

I am doing some lettering in the photo. This is a wonderful alloy metal. Very smooth cutting and very little push required.

I’m cutting with a square carbide graver with a 45 degree face. A nice diamond polish is giving me bright cuts in the metal.

Thirty minutes in and needed a quick break. Engraving on expensive firearms is much different than engraving a bracelet. Each cut I make must be perfect because there is no eraser to put metal back on.

Looking very good so far. Only issue is the trigger guard is in the way so I am making all the cuts from the top down. Not a problem just a little slower as I have to plan out each segment of each letter.

My timer just went off, so back to work…

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Silver Bear Dance Badges – Hand Engraved

Silver Bear Dance Badge lettering.

Silver Bear Dance Badge lettering.

Received a phone call from a local silversmith – emergency engraving!

This happens all the time, short deadlines from customers. In this case a fellow artist, Melody, from Blackhawk Trading Company, needed the silver badges engraved today so she has time to finish them before the Bear Dance this weekend.

So with the Sweet 16 pendant on the bench and ready to engrave but plenty of time to do it, I put the pendant to the side and started right in on the badges.

The lettering layout went very smoothly as Melody let me select a font that I can engrave very quickly. I’m cutting with a #52 round graver and pleased with the consistency of the cast badges. My last experience was with cast brass and it was variable in hardness and that made it hard to engrave. This silver casting is just right and no air bubbles so far.

Two of three badges.

Two of three badges.

Two down and just one to go.








Detail photo of Bear Dance Badge. Mountain Ute version.

Detail photo of Bear Dance Badge. Mountain Ute version.

This is the Mountain Ute Tribe version of the badge.

There will be badges for all three Ute Tribes: Southern Ute, Northern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute.

Just the Southern Ute badge to go so I better get to it. They are due in the morning!

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Sweet 16 – Update #2

Progress report on the Sweet 16 Silver Pendant.

Today I have mounted the silver pendant in GRS Thermolock (using some painters tape to protect the finish) and have laid out the final design.

Sweet 16 silver pendant, mounted and ready to engrave.

Sweet 16 silver pendant, mounted and ready to engrave.

After a few phone calls with Judy, we have worked out all the lay out options. I love it when my customers know exactly what they want and I do not have to do multiple layouts to find the one they like.

Judy knows exactly what she wants for her Grand daughter.

The year placement was one of our discussion topics. Where to place it? After studying the piece for a few minutes the placement as shown in the photo was the obvious choice. We both wanted the numbers to be smaller but there is a limit to how small I can engrave and this is it.

One thing I forgot to take into consideration with the practice engraving is the gold pin sticking through the silver pendant. This will obviously be in the way as I engrave the word Sweet. So I will have to start cutting all the letters from the bottom of the letter and cut upwards. Not a big problem but it does take a bit more planning for each letter.

Really looking forward to actually cutting this piece in the morning. Stay tuned for more updates…

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Sweet 16 – UPDATE

Sweet 16 design on practice silver.

Sweet 16 design on practice silver.

Hand engraving Sweet 16 Pendant

For this project I am hand engraving a silver pendant and the silver is only 26 gauge thick. In layman’s terms – very thin.

So I have set up a piece of scrap silver, 26 gauge and laid out the script to practice and get the feel for cutting such a delicate piece.

In the photo you can see my fat fingertips holding a graver. I manufactured a new graver just for this work. A 45 degree face angle on a 90 degree square graver. Put a nice diamond polish on it so it will cut smoothly and leave a nice bright cut.

The practice is to assure me that I can use enough pressure to engrave the silver without damaging the front side of the pendant.

Practice plate showing fine hand engraving.

Practice plate showing fine hand engraving.

In the second photo I have cut a few of the words and the capital G.

The graver is the perfect size. I do have to loosen up the vise so it will turn easier and smoother. This is held in a 50 pound vise and I turn it by hand. When holding a large firearm to engrave I like the vise to be stiff and turn slowly while I cut.

This delicate piece needs a much faster spin. I didn’t think of it until I started to cut the curly S in Sweet. After I lightened the tension on the vise the rest of the lettering cut much smoother.

The other lesson learned was that I can easily cut the silver without damaging the design on the other side of the thin silver.

Now I just need Judy to email me that she likes the layout and script design and I’ll be ready to start the actual pendant. Also on the pendant along the top of the silver will be engraved 2015 to help generations to come remember when Lindsay turned Sweet 16.


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Firefighter belt buckle

Heirloom firefighter buckle.

Heirloom firefighter buckle.

Spent the past few days hand engraving this brass belt buckle. Aaron is finishing his probation year and getting a nice buckle as a gift from a mentor.

Matt did the design and I loved that. He has a great eye for design and style, made it really easy for me.

However, the cast brass was miserable to cut. I was very surprised at how the metal was so very different to cut. Some areas were very soft and then quickly turned into glass hard. Made for a very challenging engraving.

I used a #52 round graver for the top script. Wanted it to be bolder than the rest of the lettering. The belt keeper and the post seem to always be in the way when I needed to turn but I was able to make all the cuts by starting each from the bottom and cutting upward.

The Maltese cross and dates were cut with a #50 round graver for a more delicate look. It was in the cross area that I found the softest areas. Graver wanted to plunge deep for part of a letter then slipped right off the brass for the next letter. A bit maddening at times.

I engraved the quote with a 90 degree square graver, 50 degree face. I wanted the quote to look different than the rest of the lettering and this looks perfect to me. Also the font selected for this lettering really lent itself to the square graver.

The grind marks on the back of this buckle are manufacture marks and not mine. I polished out a few marks to make the engraving area as free from marks as possible. None of the remaining grinding marks were in my way, so I just polished the entire area.

Total engraving time about three hours. I’d wanted to add some scrolls to frame the lettering but must stay within the budget. Maybe Aaron will want to add some more decoration later…

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Silver and Gold Pendant for “Sweet 16”

Keith Lewis Studio pendant to be engraved for "Sweet 16"

Keith Lewis Studio pendant to be engraved for “Sweet 16”

A new lettering project today. This will be a gift from Grandmother to Grand daughter on her “Sweet 16th” birthday. And garnet is her birthstone!

This is a Keith Lewis Studio pendant, purchased here in Durango at the Karyn Gabaldon gallery. Very delicate and the silver is beautiful but thin. So it will be a challenge to engrave the back. I love a challenge!

I plan to hold it in GRS thermolock to give a firm hold and to reinforce the silver while cutting.

When I get the lettering all laid out I’ll add another photo. I will definitely do a practice piece on same gauge silver as the original. I want to get my hands warmed up with the practice piece before I start on the expensive piece.

Tiny script lettering will require a nice sharp graver that I will grind very small. Smaller than what I used on the antique camera plaques (see past posts).

And as Judy suggested, “No coffee in the morning before engraving”.

Maybe just one cup so my eyes are at least open!

Keep following to see how this turns out!


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Ruger rifle engraved.

Ruger American model rifle receiver hand engraved.

A rush job for a customer. Called me yesterday and needed it done today! Good news is I could squeeze it in between other big projects.

Tumbleweed is the nickname and I cut it with a 120 degree C-Max graver for a flashy cut. I love how nice and smooth this Ruger rifle steel cuts. Not at all like the Ruger Vaquero pistols.

Nickname on a Ruger rifle.

Nickname on a Ruger rifle.

Timbleweed on a Ruger American model.

Timbleweed on a Ruger American model.


The receiver steel engraving was like cutting firm butter. Sweet!






Here’s a good view of the placement on the receiver. Nice flat spot to engrave. The scope mounts were in the way but easy enough to work around.

120 degree C-Max graver made short work of this engraving. Just about an hour from start of design to finished engraving.

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U.S. Army Sword engraved by hammer and chisel

I swear this the last sword I will ever engrave! Very hard steel and not a flat surface so it is a very challenging project.

This is my son’s sword. Captain Jesse J. Coyne, USA. Thankfully there was not enough room on the sword for his rank. The name alone was tough enough.

Name, layer out on sword

Name, layer out on sword

Just holding the 35 inch sword was a challenge but eventually I found that the vise pins would do the job.

Finished lettering.

Finished lettering.

Not my best photo but I hope you can see the surface has a curve to it.

In the second photo the lettering is finished and buffed.

I used a Celtic font.

Technically a very tough project. I lost count of how many gravers I broke. I started with the GRS new graver called   C-Max. I figured that would be harder than the sword blade. WRONG.

I could get perhaps a 16th of an inch before the tip was too dull or broken. The straight sections of the letters were the easy parts, except for the wave in the metal. Cutting angle constantly changed as I cut across the wave in the blade. Very difficult.

I used a 90 degree graver with a 50 degree face. I’d guess about five gravers per letter, except for the “o”. That was more like 15 gravers due to the curve of the “o”.

Glad it is finished. Looks great and I’m so proud that I was able to engrave Jesse’s sword.


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Engraved Henry Rifle complete.

Ranch brand engraved on Henry Yellowboy rifle.

It took a few days for the right side of the receiver design to gel in my mind. I spent a day looking at old yellowboys and winchesters for inspiration. I woke up this morning with a design in my head.

Came up to the workshop and roughed it out before I lost it. While reviewing R.L. Wilson’s Winchester book I saw that a lot of saddle rifles had oval designs with script inside. Most of them were scroll or classic borders. That would not work for this rifle as it would exceed the clients budget. So I came up with a design that is similar to the border cut on the left side of the receiver but around an oval.

Lazy J brand on Henry rifle

Lazy J brand on Henry rifle

I placed the brand where I wanted it and encircled it with an oval, added the scalloped edge and finally a three bright cuts to add a bit of flash. I also think it looks a bit like barbed wire, which the client had asked about when we first met.

All cut with a 105 degree graver. I outlined the J’s with a #50 round graver then textured the center for a dark letter on a bright background.


Finished engraving on Henry rifle

Finished engraving on Henry rifle


Here’s a look at the rifle, still mounted on the vise with GRS Thermolock. I’ve used this block of thermolock on three different Henry’s so far.

I cover the receiver with painter’s tape before I press it into the heated thermolock. Makes clean up a snap and protects the wood from overheating and harming the finish.

I like it! Not too much embellishment for a saddle gun but enough that the grandson will know it was engraved for him as a heirloom.

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Henry Rifle custom engraved ~ Update 2

Left side of Henry rifle receiver engraving complete.

Brand and Initials engraved.

Brand and Initials engraved.

I engraved the ranch brand with a #59 round graver. The Lazy J just looked the best cut with the round graver. I wanted it to have a bold look so this is three passes with the #59 graver.

The initials were cut with a 105 degree graver and this spot on the receiver had very sooth cutting brass while everywhere else was chatter cutting.

Hammer and chisel cut custom engraving on Henry rifle.

Hammer and chisel cut custom engraving on Henry rifle.

In the second photo you can see a bit more of the rifle and that helps with the scale of the engraving.

Now on to the other side and another Lazy J engraving.

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