Question: Engrave Motorcycle Parts


Feb 21, 2024
Hello friends,

I’m new to the forum, thanks for accepting my request. I’m also new to engraving, and after a year of doubt I finally jumped the fence and bought myself a GRS Graversmith, a 901 handpiece, and two round gravers (0.4 and 0.8 mm) to get started.

It was a big chunk out of some money I’ve set aside, but after thorough research I concluded to just go with professional tools to start with rather than a Chinese knock-off with no after-service should it break or no re-sell value. It felt kinda insane spending that much money on something I’ve never even done before, but I’m super motivated to pratice until I get somewhere where I wanna be.

All the context aside and to the point: A friend and I produce sand-casted aluminum Harley parts here in Belgium. We make a 3D drawing, prototype it with a 3D printer, send it to the foundry, sand and polish it at home,… and done. We’d like to give future customers the option to have their parts personalized. Aside from that pneumatic engraving just looks so much fun! I have another friend who has a laser-engraver for metal, I tried etching with an old car battery charger. And while those methods had great results, it doesn’t match the oldskool artisanal aesthetic we’re looking for. Until the friend I’m starting this small business with mentioned Sam Alfano (hi Sam!) and showed me his work two years ago. I instantly knew this was an artform I wanted to learn.

Getting sidetracked again, I’m sorry haha. This link to Youtube describes the best of what I’m trying to do:

1) I see this man uses a ball vise which clamps a piece of wood on which he screwed the piece he’s engraving. Is this a correct observation? Which ball vise is recommended for this sort of work? Any dimensions I should consider before buying? The parts I want to engrave are of similar size…

2) As mentioned before I will mostly engrave aluminum, and occassionally some stainless steel. Which gravers are best? I bought two round HSS gravers yesterday, not knowing if these suit my purpose best. The salesman told me they’re good all-rounders, but also confessed engraving is a niche he’s not that familiar with (it’s more of a store where they cater to jewellers and stonesetters rather than engravers).

3) I’m looking for books and tutorials. Everytime I look for lessons, most things I find are in the US. I would love to have entered Alain Lovenberg his school not too far from here, but I suspect he doesn’t give those lessons anymore judging from a quick look at his website (last lessons were in 2019). So anything to get me started at home, learning part auto-didactic part with literature will be of great help! Youtube has been great the last two years but I think I’ve seen all there is to be seen on there. Are there any more teachers or schools around Bruges, in Flanders, or the most southeren part of the Netherlands?

I apologize for my first entry to be such a long read. But I do believe I will get the right answers and knowledge here. Thanks in advance for all the tips of which I’m sure they’ll be of great help!

Cheers, greetings from Belgium,

Last edited:


Staff member
::::Pledge Member::::
Feb 11, 2007
washington, pa
welcome to the forum. i'll answer one question: affixing the part to a block of wood is quite acceptable. such prevents damage to the part from direct clamping. screws and hot melt glue are two quick ways to achieve that goal.


Elite Cafe Member
Jan 9, 2008
Cordoba - Argentina
Hi and welcome!
I will answer another question: Arnaud Van Tilburgh is a member of this forum and he lives in Belgium (Antwerp if I remember well).
He is a very smart and nice person that I had the opportunity to meet in person in Basel.
He is also a great jeweler and engraver and, if he is not giving classes I am sure he can point you in a right path.
You can look for him here and send a PM.
Best luck in your new endeavor!

diane b

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
May 26, 2008
A good source for you to contact would be Tira Mitchell. She is on this site, so you could PM her. She also has her own website. I don't have the web address, but you could look on the internet for it. I took my first class with Tira in 2008 at GRS, and at that time I think her main focus was engraving motorcycle parts. Hope this helps. Good luck - Diane


:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Dec 25, 2020
Chattanooga, TN
Welcome Vondershred, glad to have you aboard.
Ill follow suit and answer one question, books and tutorials…

Book, Ron Smith’s Advance drawing of scrolls

Tutorial, Sam’s DVDs or downloads

Both have been priceless and I feel we are very lucky to have these resources available to all who seek this knowledge, the alternative being the older tradition of finding an engraver willing to pass along these core fundamentals in person and peering over they’re shoulder.

Sam‘s “beginner course” would get you rolling for sure.
His ‘Engraving scrollwork start to finish” is a very nice knife handle and if you have a basic understanding of cutting and sharpening, this one is super comprehensive of every step and will show you the amount of time you will be investing in a given process, As the parts you seem to be interested in a quite a large scale.
And and finally The “Advanced shading master class“ will give you the understanding of how well though out shading can take a good piece and elevate it to supurb.

Hope this helps and have a wonderful week. BB

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