Announcement: First Knife “A learning Experience”

ByrnBucks

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Messages
67
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Good evening gentlemen, I toiled away at whether to show this but as I did learn several lessons and it’s basically my first knife I figured why not. Ill try and describe “what had happened was” during this process not as an excuse but how I ended up here and why I stopped haha. First things first… the border got a little squirrelly there, Iv since acquired a set of dividers as I soon realized free handing a loose pencil mark wasn’t going to cut it “but that train had left the station” and I came to the conclusion that I had never cut a continuous line even a third that size so the next border will be undertaken with much care.

A little backstory, this was a knife that a friend brought me and said go nuts, he knew I had only done a very small practice knife a few months ago and had just recently started cutting my teeth on steel. He only asked for his last name on it other than that It was a knife he had in a drawer for years and thought I’d like the practice.

Next the question as to why on earth Is this only backbones and who would post something with such inconsistent cuts … well what had happened was :) I pondered doing a layout and posting a critique party on here but in reality my drawing skills are so rudimentary that it felt unlikely I’d get far enough on my own to resemble a design worth refining. I have what could be considered a writer’s block when it comes to where do I start or seeing where I want something to go and take shape in my head. One thing that gives me no pause at all are backbones “you may disagree” But they seem to flow out rather simplistically and bring me great pleasure to doodle as Iv always yearned for the ability to draw.

As for the inconsistency and the reason I threw in the towel, well I’m sure I’m not the first as Iv seen it discussed Is that freaking steal is HARD haha and breaks C-Max gravers about every 30 seconds or at least one per spine. I didn’t know how to recognize hardened metal and this definitely taught me that hard lesson of knowing my canvas before diving in.

So after the border I started on the left and worked my way right. Here is the thing that broke my spirt and made put the graver down and walk away in defeat instead of making second passes and evening out all the cuts. As I made my way near the second screw I wasn’t sure I’d be putting those three small clockwise lines “ the heavy handed ones” so I left them off and continued along and figured I’d decide later “If I only had a time machine haha”.

I believe I had made it to the third screw and the bottom of the name before calling it a night “ maybe my forth day under the scope”. I picked back up and did the name and border “my redemption on this piece” and was on my third 1.8mm c-max 120 degree graver almost sharpened down to a nub. I have only just discovered the 1.8 as I was previously using Lindsey templates with 2mm square blanks, so when I got a GRS hone I instinctively went with 1/8” round blanks cause as I figured they needed to be stout for some reason and did zero investigation into this.

Here’s where I really buggered up I made it to the bottom right corner before finishing off my last 1.8mm bit I had left and called it a night. As I’d broken 50 tips at this point and was becoming inpatient I grabbed a 1/8” bit and went in for the kill, I started to get a case of summit fever and felt I could see the finish line “I should have slowed down and called it one more time but my primal urge to see it filled overwhelmed my judgment. I got around the top of the name and looked back at the open spaces I had left near the second screw and carelessly plowed those terrible three cuts and immediately my heart sank. I pulled it off the vise as I thought If I tried to even everything out with second cuts I’d just make it worse best take all these lessons to heart and be done with it.

Anyway thanks for looking and I’d love to hear you fine gentlemen’s thoughts on absolutely anything you see here that I could address on future endeavors. Thanks everybody and I hope everyone is well and has a wonderful day.
 

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AllenClapp

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
182
Location
Raleigh, NC
Don't be discouraged. That is a better cut and design than my first ones and I know that is the case for many others as well. It takes a while to get your muscle memory working to help keep the graver at the same angle, etc.
As to the design itself, take a look at the progression of scrolls--on the left side, they keep changing size. it would be better to either keep the same size of scrolls as you go across or gradually diminish the size.
As to the border, try scribing a line with dividers around the knife and then cut to the side of the line, so that the edge of the cut stays on the line. If you do that two things happen: first, one side of the cut is straighter, even if you cut a little deeper here and there, and second, it is easier to widen the cut where needed on a later pass by taking a little off of the wandering side and still keep the overall line straight or uniformly curving.
If you are not engraving every day, you may find it easier to make a transfer pattern that includes half straight lines and half sets of concentric circles and cut that on a 2x2 plate before starting on the project. That will get your hand-eye-graver level coordination working.
You may also find that using two gravers helps in the beginning: one with about a 1/4 mm heel for curves and one with about a 1/2 mm heel for straight lines. Longer heels help with keeping lines straight, but they don't do will in cutting curves, because the back of the heel buggers up the outside side of the curve.
 

ByrnBucks

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Messages
67
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Don't be discouraged. That is a better cut and design than my first ones and I know that is the case for many others as well. It takes a while to get your muscle memory working to help keep the graver at the same angle, etc.
As to the design itself, take a look at the progression of scrolls--on the left side, they keep changing size. it would be better to either keep the same size of scrolls as you go across or gradually diminish the size.
As to the border, try scribing a line with dividers around the knife and then cut to the side of the line, so that the edge of the cut stays on the line. If you do that two things happen: first, one side of the cut is straighter, even if you cut a little deeper here and there, and second, it is easier to widen the cut where needed on a later pass by taking a little off of the wandering side and still keep the overall line straight or uniformly curving.
If you are not engraving every day, you may find it easier to make a transfer pattern that includes half straight lines and half sets of concentric circles and cut that on a 2x2 plate before starting on the project. That will get your hand-eye-graver level coordination working.
You may also find that using two gravers helps in the beginning: one with about a 1/4 mm heel for curves and one with about a 1/2 mm heel for straight lines. Longer heels help with keeping lines straight, but they don't do will in cutting curves, because the back of the heel buggers up the outside side of the curve.
Allen, thanks for advise recon I thought the scrolls could be a little free spirited in size thinking back probably picked that up doodlen. Got a cheap pair of dividers last week had been using a compass for centering stuff but wasn’t much use for a tiny border. Hadn’t ever considered having different heel sizes kind of found a size that worked and never have tried adjusting it much I’m guessing its a short heel “couple of swipes on 1200 wheel” Ill definitely will be playing with that a bit. Appreciate your time
 

monk

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Feb 11, 2007
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10,175
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washington, pa
i'm thinkin the scales shouldn't be too hard. but what do i know ? doing blades was the bugger for me. even in the annealed state, most blades i worked on were real cranky. that you show your efforts is a good thing. nobody was born with a pencil or graver in their hand. good work comes from continued practice. practice in drawing is paramount, as good cutting on a bad design is still crappy. lousy cutting on a great design is somewhat more agreeable to the eye. keep on , youll get bettet !
 

ByrnBucks

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Messages
67
Location
Chattanooga, TN
i'm thinkin the scales shouldn't be too hard. but what do i know ? doing blades was the bugger for me. even in the annealed state, most blades i worked on were real cranky. that you show your efforts is a good thing. nobody was born with a pencil or graver in their hand. good work comes from continued practice. practice in drawing is paramount, as good cutting on a bad design is still crappy. lousy cutting on a great design is somewhat more agreeable to the eye. keep on , youll get bettet !
Good evening Monk, Just to clarify are you saying knifes in general are poor subjects or just the blade part itself? Thank you for encouraging more practice Iv been leaning more heavily on practice cutting and have neglected drawing “cutting bits and pieces of designs from Sam’s ornate scrollwork book” but after trying to come up with something for this handle I ordered Sams guide to drawing scrolls DVD. It was waiting in my mailbox today and its given me a pretty good boost on where to start practicing drawing and get a better understanding of design. Iv had Ron Smith’s and Meeks books but book learning has never done near as much for me as visual representation. Thanks time.
 

oniemarc

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
114
Location
The Netherlands
I agree with all that has been said by the others responding. You have to keep in mind that the good people of this forum are mostly engravers or jewelers by trade. Therfore they will see anything wrong(and there is ALWAYS something wrong if you look close enough). Any regular person will probably never see what would be "wrong". If they think it looks nice, the rules of engraving will never change their minds. Sooo, just keep cutting and make something nice for the person who wanted something nice to look at.
The fact that you are not happy with the outcome sofar simply says you want to grow. Let the mistakes be what they are, learning curves. Next time, keep them in mind and grow.

Marc
 

ByrnBucks

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Messages
67
Location
Chattanooga, TN
I agree with all that has been said by the others responding. You have to keep in mind that the good people of this forum are mostly engravers or jewelers by trade. Therfore they will see anything wrong(and there is ALWAYS something wrong if you look close enough). Any regular person will probably never see what would be "wrong". If they think it looks nice, the rules of engraving will never change their minds. Sooo, just keep cutting and make something nice for the person who wanted something nice to look at.
The fact that you are not happy with the outcome sofar simply says you want to grow. Let the mistakes be what they are, learning curves. Next time, keep them in mind and grow.

Marc
Marc, I like the take on most people, recon that’s been the case for most of the little bit of showing to friends and coworkers, didn’t ever really think about it but most reactions have been pretty positive with design and a little more impressed with the practice of engraving. I do have one gentleman with a stringent eye for perfection “which I request“ but I don’t believe anyone else “tries“ to fine flaws rather just enjoy looking at what maybe the only piece they’ve had in they’re hand.
Iv been a auto/Industrial/aviation painter by trade for 10+ years and there’s a hard lesson to learn about you knowing every little tiny thing wrong with a spray. Something you’ve been laser focused on and really bothered by possibly anticipating repainting it, once shown to a boss or customer don’t point it out let them look 95% of the time even if you do bring it up nobody cares near as much as you.
thanks for your time and advise.
 

monk

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Messages
10,175
Location
washington, pa
Good evening Monk, Just to clarify are you saying knifes in general are poor subjects or just the blade part itself? Thank you for encouraging more practice Iv been leaning more heavily on practice cutting and have neglected drawing “cutting bits and pieces of designs from Sam’s ornate scrollwork book” but after trying to come up with something for this handle I ordered Sams guide to drawing scrolls DVD. It was waiting in my mailbox today and its given me a pretty good boost on where to start practicing drawing and get a better understanding of design. Iv had Ron Smith’s and Meeks books but book learning has never done near as much for me as visual representation. Thanks time.
not sayin that at all. look at the wondrous works by brian hochstradt. working the blades usually require annealing before engraving. this is no problem when one works for custom knifemakers. doing blades in their hardened state is just making life more difficult. the makers i worked for were more than happy to send the blades to me before heat treating. there is etching with acid or electrolysis, but that is a different animal. these techniques ado not care if the steel is hard or soft.
 

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