How to undercut a small circle and a few other newbie questions...

Dan_the_DJ

New Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2021
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3
Location
Serbia
Hello there,

This is my first post on this forum.

You can call me Dan, Im from Serbia and I just started engraving a few days ago.
Its quite a complimentary hobby to have alongside blacksmithing and I sense great things ahead, if I can figure it out that is :)

One thing I can say right of the bat:
Engraving is the most relaxing and fun things Ive ever done, its amazing!
(I have to add, this only became fun when I made a proper set of engravers, before that, it was a pain)

Im mostly interested in wire inlay, for now, and I have made these two gravers to do it:

1 (2).jpg 1 (3).jpg 1 (1).jpg
One for cutting the channel and the other for undercutting.
The angles are not perfect and HT was eyeballed, but everything turned alright it seems.

Heres a couple of pics of my practice work so far (Im working up the courage and skill to do some sort of pattern on my machete guard):
2.jpg
My first inlay ever. The channel was cut with a hacksaw, because my makeshift chisel wasnt very good as you can see next to my line...

First question: Why is the line so wavy when it was cut with a hacksaw, straight as an arrow?

Next up, we have my second attempt with makeshift chisels, just to see how well can I blend three copper wires together.
Seems seamless :D
3.jpg
Very nasty lines because the chisel was bad, but I managed to cut and undercut without wanting to cry, a success!

Then I decided to do a bit of actual research and I made proper tools and tried to inlay a square:
4 (1).jpg 4 (2).jpg 4 (3).jpg

Much better, cleaner channels and nice undercuts with barbs on the bottom, but still those wavy lines when I touch it up.
How can I get rid of that?

I also suck at making corners, the chips bunch up and I cant get them out without ruining my lines...

Can going over the design with a file or a stone fix my issue of wavy lines and bunched up chips in the corners or will I just make a bigger mess by bringing everything down?
Also, I noticed that after undercutting, I get raised edges of steel... Can I file those down flush or not?


And lastly, to get back to the title of my post:

How does one undercut a circle shaped indentation?

I read this tutorial for wire inlay on instructables and the guy who made the tutorial didnt show how he did it.
He explained everything else pretty well, kudos. He punched a circular groove with a round punch easy enough, but Im left in the dark on how he undercut it...




Im sorry for the long post, but I have no idea what Im doing when it comes to inlay and engraving. If anyone can spare the time to answer any of my questions and point me in the right direction, that would be of immense help!

Thank you all very much for your time and help, cheers.
 

mitch

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It depends on how big a circle or dot, and how hard the metals are that you're engraving & inlaying. With a small circle or dot in soft steel with 24k gold, a few tiny undercuts with a sharp punch (like a needle point) is enough. With harder base metals (that will blunt the end of the punch) and/or harder inlay metals, you'll need to use very narrow chisels, make deeper undercuts, and resharpen often. It can be tedious work if you have very many to do.
 

Dan_the_DJ

New Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2021
Messages
3
Location
Serbia
It depends on how big a circle or dot, and how hard the metals are that you're engraving & inlaying. With a small circle or dot in soft steel with 24k gold, a few tiny undercuts with a sharp punch (like a needle point) is enough. With harder base metals (that will blunt the end of the punch) and/or harder inlay metals, you'll need to use very narrow chisels, make deeper undercuts, and resharpen often. It can be tedious work if you have very many to do.
I work with copper for now, I kind of like the color I get. Its subtle, yet pretty :D
Diameter of the circle will be as large as my wire is thick, around 1.4mm~0.05in
Thats pretty small for a novice like me.
Do you recommend I go deeper when punching or not noticeably different from regular channel depth?
Thanks.
 

mitch

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Messages
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There's really not any special "secret trick" for this sort of inlaying (at least not that I know of and there aren't many tricks I don't know!). Other than putting the undercuts directly opposite each other in the sides of the hole, so the inlay is trapped between them, instead of slipping out the other side, there isn't much else to say.

If you're just starting out engraving there are a lot of other things you will need to learn that are much more important than inlaying dots. So unless you know you have a job that will involve inlaying a lot of small copper dots I would recommend practicing & playing with techniques you will use much more often.
 

Dan_the_DJ

New Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2021
Messages
3
Location
Serbia
Well, for that guard Im practicing for, I reckon to have at least ten to fifteen little dots.
Might change my mind, who knows...
Nothing is set in stone, Im still looking for inspiration :D

The main problem seems to be that I need more gravers.
I ought to mitigate that soon...
 

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