Resources for Engravers

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Chief Administrator & Benevolent Dictator
Staff member
Nov 6, 2006
Covington, Louisiana
Updated 1-Dec-2006
This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

This document contains the following information:

  • Stones for stoning gold and prepping guns
  • Transfer solution & printers that work
  • Billzach's hobo nickel tips
  • Engraving schools
  • Engraving forums
  • Knife engraving info and advice from
  • Silver and silver colored metals for inlaying
  • Drill press stands for vises
  • French gray techniques

STONES for stoning gold, prepping guns, etc

From Ray Cover -
I really like their (Gesswein) moldmakers stones and their supra ceramic stones. The supra stones are very pricey but being made of ceramic fiber they last a LONG time. When used with gesswien blue oil I have had no problems with loading.

I generally use the moldmakers stones for general work but when I have tight little places to get into I like the supra ceramics. Those little 1mmx2mm stones can be shaped to get into tiny spots and they hold their shape well.

Gesswein also sells a sample kit of their pencil stones that comes with a holder handle and a bottle of their blue oil. It sells for $36 if I remember correctly. I think the number is #415-1026. They do not have this particular set in their catalog. the $66 set in their catalog has been replaced with this set. THis has a sampling of all their types of stoens they carry so you can try them all out and see which stones you like for which applications.

From Yves Halliburton -

I found the stones under Finishing Stones-Gesswein Moldmaker. I also found the Ultra Soft. I will try these too. For anyone wanting the product no's, here they are.

Rapid breakdown 1/4" x 1/4" x 4"
320 grit - 410-0302
400 grit - 410-0402
600 grit - 410-0602

Utra Soft (more rapid) 1/4" X 1/4" X 6"
320 grit - 450-7302
600 grit - 450-7602
1200 grit - 450-7002


From Tom White:

Here is a list of current tested Epson printers the will work well with my solution.

The following printers and ink tanks will give the best results and are what the solution was designed for. The new line of Epson printers using the TO60120 black ink tank these include the following Ink Jets the C68 and the C88 The all-in-ones CX3800, CX3810, CX4200, CX5800F, CX7800 - these all use the correct ink any other Epson using the TO60120 ink tank will also work. there a couple of newer models not listed here the real factor is the ink tank.

Transfer Solutions
3557 Tower Rd.
Prescott Valley, AZ. 86314


i use 3 tools in carving a coin, not counting the finishing tools, they are, hand push #37 flat [ no heel ], gravermax with about a #34 flat and a 110... i finish them out with a burnisher, 3 different grades of sanding sticks, a beadblaster and a aging solution. the #37 flat was my favorite graver. engravers have asked me for years why i don,t use a heel on my flat #37, the answer is , i didn,t know i was supposed to until a few years ago..i then put a small heel on my 37 and it didn,t work for me, so i went back to the no heel..i,ve used a hand push #37 so much i can remove the field on a nickel in about 5 mins or less, but i later spend about 2 hours smoothing the field with my #37 and the other tools i mentioned in thread..i,ve read where a lot of engravers groove the background out and then use a flat to level it out, it,s probably a better way than my method for beginners..the main thing i can tell someone who wants to try using a hand push graver with no heel is to keep it super sharp. when i,m using one it cuts the metal like a hot knife in to answer sam,s question, i use my #37 for the entire field, i do use a gravermax with the monarch handpiece on every carving for the hair, hat, wheat border etc.


Alexandre School - Belgium - diamond setting & GRS engraving classes.
GRS Training Center - USA - engraving, diamond setting, wood carving & more.
HTL-Steyr (new website) - Austria - education for engravers, gold- and silversmith, blacksmith. Old website.
JJ Roberts School of Artistic Engraving - USA - Traditional and modern engraving methods.
New Approach School - USA - diamond setting, engraving, all phases of jewelry fabrication & more.
Ray Cover School of Fine Art Engraving - USA - engraving classes
Spot On Education - Sweden - diamond setting, GRS engraving classes, & more.
Stockton Jewelry Arts School - USA - engraving, silversmithing & more.
Your school not listed? Please contact adimnistrator.


FEGA - The Firearms Engravers Guild of America features a forum for gun engravers.
KnifeNetwork - Custom knifemaker's forum with a fine embellishment section.
Lindsay Tools Forum - product support forum for Lindsay engraving tools.
MSN forum for the advancement of hand engraving.
hobo nickels Yahoo group

KNIFE ENGRAVING info and advice from

From Tira Mitchell -

While at the NY Custom Knife Show yesterday I had the chance to interview Mr. John Hanlon and Mr. Paul Shindler of I asked them what they were looking for as purveyors of fine custom knives from up and coming engravers who may want to break into the engraved knife market. Mr. Shindler said he was looking for “Great work at a good price delivered in a reasonable amount of time.” I asked him to define this further.

Great Work: He said that the engraver’s work must be as good or better than that of his peers currently in the engraved knife market. Is it as clean looking? Is the layout pleasing? The newer engraver should make sure his work measures up to what is currently out there – and – he says that the bar is always rising….

Good Price: Mr. Shindler estimates that 85% of the engraved knife market is a product that costs less than $4000, and that probably 60% of the engraved knife market is a product that costs less than $3000. These prices include the knife and the engraving. Do some research about similar model knives with similar types of engraving and set your fees accordingly.

A Reasonable Amount of Time: This was defined by Mr. Shindler as “90 days or less.”

I also asked Mr. Shindler if he could suggest some knife makers that make knives in the high end category for engraving. In his opinion the following knife makers’ knives are a good match for engraving: Joe Kious, Warren Osborn, Scott Sawby, Tom Overeynder, Steve Hoel, Jack Busfield and Tim Herman.

In addition to the above advice he also noted that “Mediocre engraving on a great knife or great engraving on a mediocre knife will get you to the same place – a mediocre knife.” Great engraving on a great knife is the best way to go. Mr. Shindler also stated that if you want to break into the engraved knife market your work should be different than the other engravers on the market. That may be a different scroll style, use of a different design element, or the use of high relief. In his opinion if you want to be noticed your scroll work should not look like all the other engravers’ scroll work currently on the market.

Mr. Hanlon noted that there is a great need for good engravers. He mentioned that a group of 15 or so engravers have been working in the market for the past 20 years and some of them have cut back on the knives they do. This has created a demand for knife engraving from up and coming engravers.

Mr. Hanlon also stated that there is a technique to engraving folding knives so that the knife is not damaged in the process. He said that folding knives are prone to bending and can be damaged easily, so be careful and shim the knife properly before you attempt to work on it.

Thanks to Mr. Shindler and Mr. Hanlon for the great information!
I was contacted today by Mr. Paul Shindler of He read my article on the knife show and mentioned in his e-mail that there were some additions to his list of knife makers whose knives seem very well suited for knife engraving. His updated list includes: Warren Osborne, Tom Overeynder, Scott Sawby, Charly Bennica, Joe Kious, Jack Busfield, Tim Herman, Jess Horn, Steve Johnson, John Young, Ron Lake, Bob Loveless, and Steve Hoel.

Mr. Shindler also noted that most of the knife makers listed above have their own web sites which would be good references for engravers.

Fine silver and silver colored metals for inlay

From Marcus Hunt -
Many times I've inlayed silver into iron-sights for rifles that have then been blacked (UK)/blued (US) using hot caustic solution and they've come out fine. The only problem you may have is using cold-blue which contains nitric acid. This of course will oxidize the silver making silver nitrate but a bit of buffing will get rid of that, but then you'll lose the blue too if you're not careful.
From Brian Marshall-
White gold containing nickel will harden almost instantly... could be done, but why would you want to work that hard - to get a yellowish white inlay?
Easier to use are the palladium white gold alloys, if the greyish/white color doesn't put you off.
Pure platinum is also somewhat grey. The "whitest" metal we inlay with is still fine silver.
In silver alloys - Argentium works fine, we've been using it for about 3 years now. Also a silver/platinum alloy from Precious Metals West works very well for inlay purposes. Both of these are tarnish "resistant". There is no such thing as a tarnish proof alloy - at least not yet...
The silicon and zinc bearing "firescale resistant" silver alloys are a lot harder to use. Both are designed for casting purposes, and the only time we had to inlay pieces of it - it cracked from the final hammer blows.

Drill press stands for vises

I have my microscope vise mounted on the table of drill press base with the scope post at the top of the column.
This way, for a person of any height I can either raise or lower the scope or crank the vise up or down.
It worked very well for students of any size.
For my own use, I can set the scope at a comfortable height and raise or lower the vise to bring the work into sharp focus.
I know that Ray Cover has an even simpler and less expensive way of doing this. But I will let him explain it.
Are you around, Ray?
Just another way of skinning the (poor) cat.
John B.
John's set up is similar to mine except my scope is mounted on my bench and have the "post" of the drill press under my bench. It still allows a lot of adjustment for different uses and also allows you to engrave "tall" things like the butt of a knife by lowering the vise. John's set up sounds better than mine for more users. The other advantage is that it is somewhat portable.
Rex Pedersen
I really would suggest the drill press post and table. It's a big advantage ergo wise. I purchased my from Grizzly. I purchased the entire drill press(stand up) as I found it is almost as expensive to buy the parts seperate. I also purchased the collar for the bench top base. Since I already have a drill press and didn't need another one, after I cut the column to my required length I used the remaining column and put the bench top flange on it and bolted it to the base. I just sold the entire motor housing with the shortened column and the base as a bench top model. It didn't have the table though but still ended up selling it for around $175.00. Which left me out of pocket of about $125.00. I like this model because the column is smaller and the table is only 11 3/8" dia, rotates and fits around your knees nicely and the lazy susan fits right on top perfectly. Here is the drill press I purchased and it is currently on sale from grizzly until the end of the year. The draw back is the freight. Hope this helps someone.
Yves Halliburton
If your going the drillpress route and I have, It is a lot cheaper to part it out from grizzly. One thing is not to buy the screws because they charge a lot more than you can get them from the hardware store. Another big savings is shipping which is 50.00 . I bought two sets of thse the last time and have three hundred into both including shipping and dont have a head base and other misc. to get rid of.
Christian DeCamillis


Over the years I have done quite a bit of the so called French Gray work on my blued steel knives. My technique, actually McKenzie's, is to use a very small pointed paint brush and Brownells blue stripper, which is mostly Phosphoric acid. Using just an Optivisor I very carefully paint the stripper onto the blued steel - watch the bluing disappear and if needed go over the metal again to get the parts that aren’t stripped. Nothing is masked off and you have to be very careful - I don’t do the whole engraving just parts at a time. When one area is the way I want it I take it to the sink and blast it with a heavy stream of warm water to quickly dilute and wash away the stripper. The warm steel is dried with a paper towel and other areas are worked. When finished the whole area is rubbed with the red end of the Pink Pearl eraser, retouched again in needed and black paint rubbed into the shading - when dry be sure to oil it and make sure the owner inderstands it must be oiled or it will rust after being touched. Keep in mind that if you drop or get any of the stripper on parts that are to remain blued that the whole thing may have to be repolished and reblued. Attached are a couple of projects I did using this method.
Fred Carter
Brownells, Naval Jelly or certain brands of toilet bowl cleaners are basically phosphoric acid of some sort. Phosphoric acid is the basic ingredent in "paint over rust" primers and such. It etches metal and seems to stabilize any oxidation. The difference is the percent of acid in the products. They all seem to do the same result, just some take more time than others. The surface can still rust but so can blued steel. On the same note, I've seen miltary Mauser rifles from 1909 that were in the white that are still in fine shape. It's a matter of keeping oil and upkeep. Some engravers have used muratic acid but that will rust back quickly and doesn't seem to offer any protection at all. As in all of these, be sure to read all warnings and don't breath the stuff.
Rex Pedersen
Here is something that I use to help with the durability issues of French Gray.
Make up a solution of acetone/ varnish mix.Try to use the old style resin based varnish if you have or can get it. I use about 95% acetone to 5% varnish. Your gray finish should be prepared using your prefered phosphoric acid solution. As it grays your metal, it very slightly etches and and open the surface pores. It also deposits some protective oxides. In a strong, hot solution it would become a parkerize ( military) finish. We just need a milder, room temp. acid solution to get a nice gray.
Prepare your gray parts for dipping (prefered) or painting on the solution. Mask off any parts that may be damaged by the acetone. This is not usually a problem for me as most of my work is on gun parts. But you need to protect many types of knife handles etc. When you are ready to go, fix a wire to any parts you are going to dip. Warm the metal with a hair dryer for a moment or two. Dip the part or paint or mop the solution on to the gray. Work quickly and you will notice that the warm metal evaporates mixture off the part right away.
At this stage it will leave a somewhat smeared surface, no worry. This is just some of the varnish that is sitting on the surface, not in the etched pores of the metal. Put it in a good place to dry for the next 12-24 hours, not hot or cold. When it is dry we need to clean the excess varnish off the surface, leaving just enough to remain in the pores and keep them sealed. If you are sensitive to acetone wear gloves. Just barly dampen a piece of lint free cloth (old T-shirt) with acetone. Wrap a small portion of the cloth around your finger and wipe the surface with a sweeping motion. Do not attempt to clean the surface completely at one time. It is important to not get the surface wet with acetone as this will also remove the varnish from the pores at this stage. Give it a few moments to redry between surface cleaning sesions. When I have the surface nice and clean I like to let the whole thing redry for 24 hours before I ink the details with oil base Speedball printers ink.
Couple of cautions.
The acetone/ varnish mix if highly flamable, use with care. It should only be used with good ventilation. Keep out of the hands of children. The phosphoric acid mix is usually pretty mild, but it should be kept away from children or pets. I generally use the one that Lowe's sells for cleaning tile grout. Be sure to read the caution label. For you guys and gals using some form of paint to blacken the details I want you to know that I have not tried this over the acetone/ varnish sealer. I can't see it being a problem if the varnish in the pores is given proper drying time but I'm not sure. On the good side I have used this sealer on several French Gray trap guns that are heavily used but carefully cleaned. They have held up for quite a few years with no rusting. Yes, you can just coat the surface of the gray finish with a sprayed on coat of something. That's just like a lot of the English guns had to protect the color case finish in the old days. Some still do. I don't like this and I think it's easily damaged by cleaning and distracts from the finish of the piece. Just my opinion. Please use this and any other system or formula you see with caution. Remember....nobody NEEDS an engraved gun, it's not worth getting hurt over.
Best to all, John B.
Yes, I do in fact use toilet bowl cleaner for French Gray! To be exact, I use Snow Bol brand. I believe it contains muriatic acid and the mix is just right for me. I use for for complete blue removal prior to the polishing for engraving and I also use it for selected/spot removal to lighten scrolls.

The Sno Bol leaves a soft gray on metal that has been previously blued - a somewhat eteched surface that can be polished out with soft rubber erasers. Like Lynton, I believe it imparts a protective surface to the metal that resists rust and corrosion? Hopefully this information won't get to Juan Carlos, whose engraved gun Tim Wells described!

Try some, it's avaialble at any grocerey store, and it's cheaper than any of the commercial brand blue removers. Best of all, my Sno Bol comes in real handy when my wife makes me clean the toilets!
Mike Dubber
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