Yesterday I attended the New York Custom Knife Show at the Park Central hotel in NYC. Engraver Lee Griffiths was at the GRS table at the show and I asked him if he had any tips or tricks he could give to younger engravers who might want to get into knife engraving. He had two pieces of advice for those starting with knives:
The first tip was about work holding the knife. Lee stressed that knives sometimes like to move as you are engraving them unless you have a firm system and that can lead to disaster. Whether you are using a homemade system, pins on a vise, a special knife holding jig or a thermo plastic -- make sure the knife is secure.
The second bit of advice from Lee is that fixed blade knives may be easier to engrave for the beginner than folding knives. Knife bolsters must be well supported so they do not deform or indent. This may be accomplished in an easier fashion with a fixed blade knife due to the fact that the bolsters are backed by the mass of the knife (the wood or metal behind the bolster). In folding knives the engraving surface may bend or deform due to the empty space in the blade cavity. Lee also suggested that sometimes a knife maker may only send the bolsters instead of the full knife. This is good in that there is no possibility of harming the finish on the rest of the knife – all you have are the bolsters. But, he again stressed, that the bolsters should be backed and supported to avoid any indentation or damage.
Thanks Lee for the information and for helping me to understand a bit more about knife engraving.
Below at the GRS table is Aaron McMichael (l) and Lee Griffiths (r).