A few questions from a beginner

DTS419

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Feb 6, 2020
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Thread starter #1
Hello,
I'm new here, been using the forum as a resource for some time and figured it was time to join. A few years back I got into building longrifles- the 18th century muzzleloader kind. Of course those often feature engraving, and so while my goal has not been to become a master engraver, I thought I would try my hand at some basic hammer and chisel engraving, enough to put a little "ownership" into the decoration of my gun builds. After all, many of the original master gunbuilders back in those days were amateur engravers at best, and so a little sub-perfect engraving on a traditional long rifle can be considered historically correct. ;)

Been practicing on and off over the last couple years but with a busy career and young kids to raise, I never seem to have the time available that learning engraving demands. Anyway, this winter I finally got back into it and have been making some headway. I got over the sharpening learning curve and that has made a huge difference. I have a few basic questions that I wouldn't mind some help with...

1) Should my chisel hand be resting on the work, or should I be holding the tool so that my hand is above the work and not on it?
2) How much pressure or grip should I be using to hold the chisel? I noticed that I tend to hold the chisel very firmly and apply a lot of downward pressure into the work to help control the tool. Is this right, or is the idea to have as relaxed a grip as possible?
3) What's the rule of thumb for rolling the tool when cutting curves? I've heard that the tool should be rolled to the outside of the curve, and also that it should be rolled to the inside. Is there a relationship between the amount of tool roll and the radius of the curve being cut? I've tried all sorts of different ways to see what works best but have had mixed results. I figure it would be good to know the "proper" way or the correct theory before developing too many bad habits.

Thanks in advance for any help. This is a great forum.

Dave
 
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monk

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#2
look at a few videos of engraving in progress. that will give you an idea as to how to hold your hand. as for cutting curves, a short heel is far better than a long one. the short heel will have far less tendency to gouge the edge of the curve.
as for grip pressure, not a heck of a lot is needed. just enough to maintain control of the graver. a death grip will result (maybe) in finger cramping. thiis will ensure you'll have less enjoyment at the bench. your hand in h&c should not really need to touch the work surface. at least mine never did.
there's a book by john schippers that has a ton of info on doing these guns. a tad pricey, but will prove quite valuable to you in your pursuit.
btw welcome to the forum, and be patient. all comes together with practice.
 

allan621

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#3
I don't do chisel engraving and can't give you any answers but I can recommend Sam Alfano's dvds over at www.engraving-videos.com I've used a few of his dvds and they all provide organized detailed lessons which provide a good base for beginning to engrave. He has one there on hammer and chisel engraving.

Allan
 

Russell

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Jan 5, 2014
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#5
I have the Schippers book and am always using it. The wealth of knowledge is worth every penny you will pay for the book. It has TONS of pictures of lots of guns which not only helps learn what to engrave but also gives motivation to go keep trying it gets addictive just looking at all the possibilities you can do.

Russell
 

DTS419

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Thread starter #6
The Schippers book has been on my wish list for a while but unfortunately its out of my price range. Been keeping my eyes open for a used copy; if anyone has an old copy they are willing to part with, let me know.
 

monk

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#8
what a blessing to have had that book when i first started ! my first gun jobs were home built front stuffers or store bought ones. i then knew very little of the history of design on those guns, and basically just did whatever the client hinted at. my cuttin was quite ok, but design skills lagged bhind.
 

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