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  1. #1
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    Default Knife engraving prep check list

    A client who has commissioned several engraving jobs from me has had a few minor problems with knives he has had engraved by engravers who do not specialize in fine handmade knives. While the engraving has been fine quality some knives have had some minor damage to the finish or the working mechanism due to the engravers not being familiar with how to set up a knife engraving job to properly protect the knife.

    As a public service to both the engravers who do the work and collectors whose knives are being worked on we decided it would be a good idea to post a knife engraving job prep list.

    As engravers we need to keep in mind that not all collectors are outgoing brash people who will call you up and tell you that the action of their knife now drags or that there are new stray scratches on the nice stone inlay. But take my word for it, they do notice such things even if they don't speak up and make a major issue out of it.

    The following check list should give you a good direction for keeping those $1,000 and up handmade knives safe while being worked on.

    (1) Engrave with the blade in the open position ONLY.

    (2) Tape the blade up to prevent damage to the blade and the person engraving.

    (3) Stuff gently the inside of the knife with soft paper, this will help keep the works cleaner.

    (4) Very Important. Tape up, mask the handle material to prevent damage and scratching. This is important and also helps prevent the need to refinish these delicate materials some of which may be beyond the engravers capabilities particularly if the inlays are stone. If attempts are made to touch up or refinish many types of stone the polish will be ruined as it requires special processes to polish rock.

    (5) Do not hold the knife in a common engravers vise, there are many better ways to fixture the knife so that there is no stress on pins and working parts. GRS make a neat malleable heat activated material (thermo lock) for this purpose. Hot glue also works. However, I do not recommend fixtures that clamp on the knife like the GRS knife fixture with the bike chain in it. That fixture may be OK for a Spyderco or other factory knife but not for a high dollar hand made knife with very tight tolerances in the working mechanisms. It DOES NOT distribute clamping force enough to keep such a knife safe.

    (6) If you are doing gold inlay work it is appropriate to insert wood shims between the handle scales to avoid distorting the metal. The shims should be of a width equal to the space between the handles, i.e. they should fit snugly but not force the handles apart.

    (7) Do not attempt to loosen up a knife if it becomes tight after engraving, never drive wedges inside a knife. There are ways to re-adjust the knife and the engraver should contact the maker for advice in this matter.

    (8) As a general rule it would be a good idea for the engraver to contact the maker before any work is done, this can be useful to find pin locations or other particulars about the knife such as thin spots where pockets are milled out on the underside for moving parts and clearances.


    Ray
    School of Fine Art Engraving
    rcoverengraving.com
    cover@sbcglobal.net
    My projects blog
    http://raycover.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
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    Dec 2008
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    Ray,

    Thanks for posting this advice. I have been thinking of starting to engrave on knives, and I have purchased a knife holder from GRS for this purpose. Now that I have read your advice. I will be careful using it on high end products.

    I have followed your work for a long time now, and I consider your work as some of the best knife work I have seen. You have a way of coming up with some great themes.

    Tony

  3. #3
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    Ray, You are allright to share so much...
    That's what this is all about...
    Thanks Ray and everyone above the ground...
    Jerry

  4. #4
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    Ray,

    Thanks for the check list. I have done a few high enders and this has reminded and educated me about how I am doing and will do in the future. Well done and very helpful.
    Lee Griffiths
    www.lgartistry.com


  5. #5
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    Thanks for the guidance Ray.
    cheers,
    Marcus




    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten."

    www.hunt-engraving.co.uk

    www.kindlerthorpe.com

  6. #6
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    Ray, Thanks for the information - I've added it to the tips section. If you think of any other tips for this type of work please let us know and I will add them as well. Thanks!

  7. #7
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    Really appreciate the advise thanks Ray!!

    Cheers
    Andrew

  8. #8
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    Another lesson learned the hard way.

    The mastic in some brands of masking tape are corrosive.

    Here is how I tape blades.

    First I wipe the blade down with a thin coat of renaisance wax or RIG greese. Then take a piece of paper towel or toilet tissue and wrap it around the blade. Tape over that. The paper towel protects the blade steel from the caustics in the tape mastic.

    Ray
    School of Fine Art Engraving
    rcoverengraving.com
    cover@sbcglobal.net
    My projects blog
    http://raycover.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
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    Nov 2006
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    Canton CT
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    Great post Ray.

    I haven't engraved any high dollar knives yet, but I have done most of your check list items to some extent.

    I have had good luck with electricians tape on the blades. The mastic seems to be enough, and so far, it doesn't leave residue on the blades. Your suggestion of the tissue next to the steel adds another layer of protection though.

    Thanks
    Peter E.


  10. #10
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    Feb 2008
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    Nambe, NM
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    Ray this is great for everyone to be knowledgeable about handling knifes. The person who is having work done deserves quality work and deserves his/her knife returned in good order.
    You gave me much information that I didn't have before.
    A good service for us all.
    Kevin P.

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