Question: checkering bolt knobs

Lee

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Has anyone checkered a bolt knob with a graver instead of a file? What v graver angle works best...spacing, layout and any other great information on how to stay out of trouble. I've done a couple in the past but was never satisfied and now it's time to rely on the wise and learned to help me get better results. Thanks.
 

Glenn

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#2
Lee,
You might pm mail Marcus Hunt. He has recently done some bolt knobs and felt good about how they turned out. If Marcus felt good about the finished product, then you know it's a winner.
 

Martin Strolz

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#4
Lee,
The first picture was taken of a Rigby which I have not engraved myself. This seems to be an easy way to checker a knob. But there are more options.
I like to have gold inlays on the knob, please see two variations. Unfortunately, quite often these bolts are extremely hard.

Some hints for the engraving procedure: It is most important to the find the correct "South Pole" and have accurate scribed lines of the layout all around the bolt. If these are misaligned the whole work will look terrible. Bolt handles often are bent and it is difficult find the correct alignment.
In the next pictures it can be seen, what accurate cutting and undercutting of the lines look like. The scribed lines are still visible for control purposes. After inlaying and polishing I cut the checkering with an onglette chisel with almost flat facets. Great care is needed to not ruin the small steel edge around the gold inlays with the belly of the chisel. Cut the lines back and in any case avoid checkering at 90°! It is extremely important to hold the round bolt end firmly and secure in the ball. It is well worth the time to make special holders. Finally, help lines for the second layer are needed or you end up with misaligned checkering.

You can go to the webpage of the excellent Austrian engraver Florian Güllert. He does these bolts in a special style. He works with a chisel and a very heavy hammer. He varies depth and with of the cuts. The result is quite grippy and looks nice. http://www.handgraveur.at/gallery_ornament/index.html

Hope that this helped. And don't forget to show your results!
Martin
 

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dclevinger

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#6
Lee,

That's funny timing. I'm getting ready to start playing around with doing bolt knobs. I've done quite a few pistol frames using actual checkering files and cleaning everything up with a riffler. My plan was to lay out the lines on the knob with a checkering file and them deepen them with a 60 degree graver.

Martin...thank you for the wonderful information.

David
 

John B.

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#7
Bolt Knob Layout.

Hi Lee and David,
Maybe I told you about this at Trinidad, David. Forgive me if it's a repeat.
An easy way to lay them out is to take a large washer and file out the center hole to the size and shape you want the panels to be.
The washers are self centering when placed on the round knob.
Coat the knob with Chinese white or magic marker and lightly scribe the pattern.
Not too much layout time involved if you have to re-position the design.
Give this a try, Lee. It's kind of a farm fix but it works.
Makes it easy to transfer a flue-de-lei and to get them all the same size.

Martin,
Outstanding work and pictures, thanks for sharing them. :tiphat:

Best regards.
 

Marcus Hunt

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#10
Hi Lee, bolt handles huh? One of the loves and banes of my life. When they cut well the look great but sometimes they're as hard as glass or you find one spot that just won't cut. Fortunately, a lot of custom riflemakers (after much complaining from engravers) will now cut the stock knob from the stem and weld on a new, better shaped knob which hasn't been heat treated in any way.

But often the shape isn't a perfect sphere and you have to eyeball the design as best you can. Martin's layout info is great and is extremely useful especially if you are chequering a spherical knob. Some knobs are more of a pear shape though and you may have to treat them slightly differently. The dividers are still essential to get the dimensions of your panels the same.

The shapes and number of the panels are dependent on differing factors e.g. cost/budget and often the engraver him/herself. They can almost become signature pieces in their own right. Personally, my favourite is five teardrop shaped panels which works great on a pear shaped knob.

Regarding graver geometry, unlike Martin's onglette, I prefer a 115º. The face needs to be quite large as you're going to be cutting deep. The edge of the second (and consequent lines needs to just touch the previous line. so that when you start cutting across your first set of lines you get perfect pyramids. These cross cuts need to be cut lighter than the first set or you'll mangle the pyramid, and try not to leave them with white/flat tops.

I agree with Martin that you mustn't cut at exactly 90º to the first set of lines, however, my preference is for a much squarer diamond than Martin's lozenge shaped diamonds. The wider cut lines along with a slightly squarer diamond gives the shooter grip but also enables the bolt to revolve more easily in the hand as it opens an closes. Riflemakers I know will actually polish off the tops of the diamonds if they think they're too sharp or grippy so the combination I use I know they like but it doesn't look quite as fancy as Martin's.

The only other problem is gripping the bloody thing! For nearly 3 decades I struggled until some very kind people made and sent me jigs to grip them. What a godsend!!! Gripping a bolt isn't too much of a problem until you get to the back, then it points directly downwards and bottoms out every time you tilt the vice. This is one reason I like 5 panel handles, it reduces this problem slightly. If I have to do a 4 panel job then I tend to put the panels on the diagonal (unlike Martin's lovely example where the front panel directly faces you. The jigs, to a greater extent, have virtually eliminated this problem now though.

I hope these tips help, as the saying goes "There's more than one way to skin a cat!"

Good luck
 
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Lee

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Thank you everyone who has responded. Much appreciated and I am now bumbling my way through.
Martin-great website by your fellow countryman. I spent some time admiring the engraving and your layout information is very good as well as your wonderfully cut knob. Well done professor.
John as always simple and brilliant.
Marcus, thanks for the response and the insights. Maybe I will be lucky and never do enough of these to become really good.
 
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#13
As a guy who learned to do it with files this is very infomative. The idea with the washer made me kick myself; it's too easy. I found two panels difficult to space perfectly, but three makes it easier to hide small distances.

The nice part of using a file is that we would easily clean up any over runs.
 

monk

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#14
all the more reason for the youngsters to learn on curved surfaces. stunning bolt art, martin ! and a tutorial as well. many thanks, sir.
 

mitch

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I've done a ton of 'em and there are a few tricks to it. As Martin said above, and showed in the photos, you need to find the 'south pole' and put a small sharp punch mark on it. To find this spot, I put the bolt in a vise vertically, as plumb as possible, then eyeball the punch to the top dead center, re-checking at 90 degrees, until I'm satisfied it's close, then whack it with a hammer. With a little practice you'll be surprised how close you can get.

Next, you need a pair of dividers with one short leg and one bent leg to scribe a line around the circumference (for several reasons*, I prefer not going all the way to the fattest mid-point. stay a little closer to the knob end).

For panel spacing, I use an 1/8" wide strip of white Post-It correction tape, several inches long. I wrap it around the circumference with one edge right on the scribed line, then, with a very sharp pencil, mark where it overlaps itself. I then stick the strip to my bench top and divvie it up into however many panels (I like 5) by trial-&-error with a pair of sharp dividers. Hint- start guessing down the middle of the tape, then put the dead on divisions at the edge. Starting at an appropriate point (usually the side where the knob is at its farthest from the stock/receiver), wrap the tape back around the scribed circumference and make scribe marks at the divisions. Then put small punch marks at each mark. TRY TO BE AS ACCURATE AS POSSIBLE- little errors can multiply and will look like <dung>. Use these to scribe the panels, borders, etc., with dividers.

*This keeps the rosette from being too big and the checkered panels down where the hand actually touches them. It's also easier to work on than up on the 'neck'.

I gotta go now- if anyone cares to know more about the actual checkering layout, engraving, & filing, ask and I'll try to post more later.
 
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Psalm18:32

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#20
I just found this thread and was blown away by the artwork. Tried to find the Florian Güllert pix, but it went 404 on me. Would love to see that work if anyone has copies of those ... These bolt checkering examples are way, way beyond anything I would have thought of. Wow! Thanks for sharing them.
 

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