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  #1  
Old 04-10-2009, 04:16 PM
CStolz338 CStolz338 is offline
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Default Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

First I'd like to say Thank You to Steve Lindsay for all of his wonderful websites and especially this forum. There is a wealth of information here that is so helpful to the beginning engraver. So Thank you to Steve and Thanks to all of you who generously contribute to this forum.

About me: I'm not an engraver, let me say that again I'm not an engraver. I'm a Muzzleloader Gunsmith. I primarily build big bore rifles and the occasional double rifle. I apprenticed under Steve Zihn 10 years ago, for about 2 years. Then I was a part time/hobby gunsmith until 3 years ago when I inherited my family farm in Kansas after the move I decided to go fulltime building muzzleloaders. I also started doing hand engraving about that time, just simple stuff, borders etc.. with just a few gravers and a chasing hammer. But anything more complex I have been sending out to other engravers. Unfortunately the turn around time has been killing my business, so a few months ago I decided I needed to get serious about engraving my own firearms, so I wasn't at the mercy of someone else for getting my guns to my customers. So after reading up on this site and several others I decided I wanted a power graver, but being poor buying one was out of the question. So I dug through the patent office online and found a bunch of expired patents of engravers dating back to the 1800's. I adapted a few bits and pieces from various designs and built my own power graver. For my needs I didn't need fancy equipment I just need to be able to reproduce a similar style of engraving to the gun engraving of the 1800-1880 range. After a couple of weeks of getting my homemade engraver to work the way I wanted and another month or so of practicing in my spare time I think I might be able to handle most of the engraving my customers will want.
Anyways here's my latest practice plate:



You can see in the close magnification a couple of place were I skipped out of my transfer, but overall I think with more practice I will be able to produce a nice engraving that will be representative of 1800's gun engraving. Hopefully I'll be able to set enough aside from not having to farm out so much of my engraving to afford a real engraver in the future.

I welcome any comments or constructive criticism of my work, hopefully it will help me get better. Again Thanks to all the people who contribute here and help us beginners get going.

Colin
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  #2  
Old 04-11-2009, 05:25 AM
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jlseymour jlseymour is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Welcome Colin, I think you will do just fine...
Like to see some pic's of your guns...
There's a few engravers in the KS area that share...
Jerry
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  #3  
Old 04-11-2009, 06:18 AM
SEngraver SEngraver is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Morning Colin,
Doing great,keep posting.you already know basics,but a lot in another field.
Mo
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  #4  
Old 04-11-2009, 07:55 AM
CStolz338 CStolz338 is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Thank you for welcoming me to the group. I'll keep posting as I improve my skills. There are a few pictures of some recent guns you can check out in the photo section on my website at: http://www.freewebs.com/stolzergunsmithing/ and in the current Project section is a running blog of the one I am building now.

Colin
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  #5  
Old 04-11-2009, 09:31 AM
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Tom McArdle Tom McArdle is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Welcome Colin!

I bet we would be interested to see some pics of the tool you made too. Do you make your gun parts from scratch also?

I imagine you could find plenty of up and coming engravers around here to engrave stuff for you while you get up to speed. Sorry you have had bad experiences with delivery times in the past.

From the engravers side, sometimes stuff just comes in waves all at once. It works best when folks call first, if they have a rush order. When work shows up unannounced, it can mess up delivery times, when your plate is already full.

I'm not saying you did any of that, but lack of communication can cause trouble!

On the other hand, sometimes artists are quirky people. And sometimes very busy people too!

Looks like your engraving is off to a good start. Also, don't set your sights too low. There was some fabulous engraving being done in the 18th and 19th centuries, even in the US!

Take care,

Tom
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:46 AM
CStolz338 CStolz338 is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravertom View Post
Welcome Colin!

I bet we would be interested to see some pics of the tool you made too. Do you make your gun parts from scratch also?

I imagine you could find plenty of up and coming engravers around here to engrave stuff for you while you get up to speed. Sorry you have had bad experiences with delivery times in the past.

From the engravers side, sometimes stuff just comes in waves all at once. It works best when folks call first, if they have a rush order. When work shows up unannounced, it can mess up delivery times, when your plate is already full.

I'm not saying you did any of that, but lack of communication can cause trouble!

On the other hand, sometimes artists are quirky people. And sometimes very busy people too!

Looks like your engraving is off to a good start. Also, don't set your sights too low. There was some fabulous engraving being done in the 18th and 19th centuries, even in the US!

Take care,

Tom
The man I primarily send my guns to for engraving is a great guy, does excellent work and has treated me fairly in every regard. We always work out the details months in advance of me sending him anything, so none of that is really the problem. Here comes the but, this last gun I sent him in January is still at his shop, due to his compressor breaking down and him not being able to afford parts or a replacement compressor. And I fully understand his not being able to get the work done, broken equipment is broken equipment. What I don't like though is being at the mercy of someone else, and having to tell my customer I can't finish your gun right now because I don't have it. It's hard on my reputation and it's also hard on my pocket book, if I had the rifle back, I could have it ready to ship in under a week with the little bit of work I have left to do, and I would have a paycheck in pocket. Thankfully my customers have all been very understanding about delays, and I also never guarantee a delivery date, I just give an approx. date. Like I said I understand his difficulties and don't hold him in any less regard in getting the engraving done, I'm just tired of being at the mercy of someone else when this is something I can learn to do myself. I'll continue to do business with him in the future because we do have a long standing relationship and he does excellent work for me.

I do build a lot of my gun parts in house for a couple reasons, the first one is what my customers are paying for, some of them pay the extra to have a gun built completely by me, so every part including the barrel(s) and lock(s) are fabricated in my shop. The other reason I build a lot of my own parts is because once you get up to a certain size of gun(really big Bore Rifles) nobody makes parts for them. Then the last reason is the types of guns I build, mid 1800's boxlock muzzleloaders, there is only one person in the country who casts actions for that style of lock, and he only does two types. So I machine some of my actions from bar stock because I can't get them made any place else. I have a fairly well equipped machine shop, with most of the major metal working tools, I also have a couple decent forges(propane and coal) and the equipment to forge most things. I also do some small casting work, end caps, grip caps, the occasional trigger guard, etc..

As to my homemade engraving equipment, well this ought to be plenty embarrassing compared to what I see most people on here using but since you ask.
As I said before I dug through the patent office looking at old engraver designs and just adapted them to what I had available. I turned the hand piece parts in my lathe. The body is 4140, I heat treated it and tempered it. The piston is 0-1 tool steel hardened. It works on the vacuum draw system with a return spring for impact. I can vary the impact by changin the spring and I can vary the speed with the foot control. The vacuum motor came out of a medical breathing treatment machine, and the rheostat foot control is off of an old sowing machine. I use standard gravers in it, mostly E.C. Mullers and a handful of Lancaster that I picked up at an auction a couple years ago. Nobody else at the auction bid on them and I bought about 100 different knife, sqaure, onglette, and liners with a dozen or so handles for $5.00, heck of a good deal. My vise is an old bowling ball cut flat with a drill press vise bolted to the top of it, and the base it swivels in is off of a broken Wilton 6" vise. Here's a few pics:



Nothing fancy about it's what I have or was able to build, it was all pretty much junk lying around my shop.
I also have a Vigor EN-775 pantograph engraver with several sets of letters that I picked up at the same auction for $80.00. I use it to layout my letters, then I chase over the shallow markings to get cuts deep enough to match the rest of the engraving.

If you have any question feel free to ask, I can't tell you much about engraving but I can tell you how to scrounge up equipment on a shoe string budget.

Colin
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Old 04-11-2009, 01:49 PM
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Tom McArdle Tom McArdle is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Thanks Colin!

very impressive!

I wish I had some of your skills, and equipment too!

Well, I'll keep at it.

We'll look forward to your engraving progress.

Where did you learn your machine shop skills?

take care,

Tom
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Old 04-11-2009, 02:01 PM
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Tom McArdle Tom McArdle is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Quote:
Originally Posted by CStolz338 View Post
Here comes the but, this last gun I sent him in January is still at his shop, due to his compressor breaking down and him not being able to afford parts or a replacement compressor.
This is a good reason to have a back up plan. Mine is the ability to engrave with hammer and chisel and push graver. When i can afford it, I plan to get the co2 foot pedal set up, or just get a palm control with the co2 hook up. Also, establishing a relationship with a jeweler or gunsmith that has air hook ups is not a bad idea. Several years ago my house was without power for 3 or 4 days. Off to my friendly neighborhood jeweler, and i was in business the first day.

take care,

Tom
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Old 04-11-2009, 02:13 PM
keithh keithh is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

HI Colin; Thanks for your posts. I too am starting out and I think from what I see that if you have a desire and a few thoughts you can do almost everything. Certainly someone above is looking out for you.
Your picture of your tools looks great. I do not have any tools but Im on it. Your idea of building your own is really cool and it pays to have the tools to make things when required.
I will keep on eye on your advancements and when Im going will post some pics.

Take care.

Keith
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2009, 02:14 PM
CStolz338 CStolz338 is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

gravertom,
Thank you.
I learned the machining a couple different places, Books, Votech(a little), apprenticeship(Gun Focused), and then trial and error for the rest. I actually have 2 college degrees that I have never used and 2 Votech certs that I used for many years in Industrial construction.

Colin
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Old 04-11-2009, 02:20 PM
CStolz338 CStolz338 is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

Kieth,
Thank you for the welcome, right back at ya.
In my case it's not that I wouldn't love to have a palmgraver or for that matter any quality made airgraver, it's pure economics. When I can afford to upgrade I definetly will. For me this was the cheapest way to start out, my spare time costs me nothing, accept for the occassional complaint from my wife when I come in several hours late for dinner.

Colin
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Old 04-11-2009, 03:40 PM
keithh keithh is offline
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Default Re: Gunsmith Learning to Engrave

HI Colin; Thanks for your email. I think your right. You did the right thing by doing your own workup. Im almost tempted to follow you but I must admit I have spent plenty of time pursuing thoughts that did not work out to satisfaction and only delayed me, so the thought of buying, if I can arrange it, is the right thing for me at this time. I only meant to congratulate you on fine work and yes, we would all like to have a PControl..
I have formed some ornamental work out in my workshop but I feel the artist within is telling me to up on the quality. I feel at this time engraving is the answer not to mention the aging body.
So, nice work there and congrats again on taking the first step forward.
Ive got reading to do etc but will keep an eye on this thread as time passes.

Chat soon

keith
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