EXCELLENCE AND TIME HONORED TRADITION
One of the first questions asked is “How did you get started engraving?” to which my reply was it was really by accident. I was a certified welder working on a nuclear power plant in 1978 when I needed something to do during Quality Control inspections
I began polishing my sidecutter pliers to a chrome like finish and embellishing them with designs. Other workers saw my work and started having me engrave their pliers and Buck and Gerber folding knives.
With such interest in my work, I decided to pursue the art of engraving and thus began my search for better instruction. I saw an ad by Brownell’s for engraving and ordered the engraving kit from them, consisting of a chasing hammer, several gravers and the book “The Art of Engraving” by James B Meeks. I studied that book religiously and practiced cutting lines as perfect and as much as an untrained novice could, trying to emulate the work I saw in the book.
It was a steep uphill battle! But, the desire to learn this new art form (to me) kept me going and I eventually got pretty decent with my cuts. But, as with all endeavors, I reached a point of stagnation, not advancing any without instruction from someone more proficient to guide me over my hump. I persisted and my wife got really tired of hearing tic-tic-tic from the other room for hours as I continually plied my newfound passion with the hammer and chisel.
While looking through an old NRA magazine I noticed an ad for engraving instruction, so I began a course by mail with Robert Maki. It was tough and I spent many an hour engraving straight lines on the practice plates he sent, returning them by mail, waiting for his grading my progress and starting on another practice plate. I must say, he was very patient and its a wonder he stayed with me, but we continued for almost a year before I stopped with him. I still have his instructions on CD and refer to them occasionally. I learned a lot and eventually looked for more personal instruction.
I discovered an engraving program at GRS in Emporia, Kansas, a part of Glendo LLC. that was an intensive one week course with a professional Master Engraver. I applied and spent a week studying with Rex Pedersen, a second generation engraver. I learned more that week under personal instruction in a GRS setting than I had learned in the twenty years prior to that struggling on my own. Since then I have had seminars with many Master engravers at venues like The Ken Hurst (deceased) Engraving get-together in Wilson, North Carolina, at Scott Pilkington’s Annual Engrave-In in Monteagle, Tennessee, plus the seminars at the FEGA convention/meeting at Reno, Nevada, now held in Las Vegas.
My career began with hammer and chisel, working many hours at home after my day job, which progressed to a powered graver from Ray Phillips with his NgravR brand handpiece, then the the pneumatic GraverMax from GRS and finally the Lindsay PalmControl by Steve Lindsay. All these systems, except the GraverMax (don’t need two pneumatic tools) are still used by me and each has a special place for achieving certain unique characteristics in engraving.
This, my friends, takes me to the present and I’m continuing to learn from some of the best engravers in the world through the internet. FEGA has a ton of articles of instruction that can be downloaded and casts of works by them to study for technique.
There is also a ton of instruction on www.engravingforum.com (Steve Lindsay’s site), www.engraverscafe.com (hosted by Sam Alfano) and The Engravers Notebook on FaceBook, hosted by Brian Powley, all free or for a modest fee if you so choose.