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Old March 23, 2014, 06:08 AM   #1
Field Tester
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Firearm Engraving

This is going to be a multiple part question so please feel free to answer as much or as little as you like.

I've given thought to this the past year and was hoping for some guidance. I'll try and provide examples with each question.

How is engraving done? What are some different methods and the pros and cons to those methods? Is it better to engrave before or after finish is added?

Lets say I have an AR. Can I engrave the upper and lower? Is it better to start on an 80%?
Is font type achievable or am I limited? Can I use multiple colors?
For example, I want to engrave a Galic phrase on the lower receiver and then fill with Orange, White and Green. How do I best achive that?

Lets say I want to engrave a firearm for my wife with a sweet saying we use for each other. Am I limited with the type of firearm and where I can engrave it? Will it affect (effect?) function or the durability of the firearm?

Are there certain types of metals it shouldn't be done on, i.e. Nickel, Stainless Steal etc...?

How are BBQ guns done?

Are there business that provide the service? Obviously if it's the frame or receiver they have to have an FFL. What if I just sent the 80% or any other part, does anyone do this? Will I have to finish it in any way?

How about home jobs? Obviously I'd practice a lot first and it may not be my first option, but I still want to know if it can be done. Any and all ways possible, chemical and manual finishing included.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. I know this isn't a subject that is brought up often. Even rarer is it answered in full. So I offer my complete thanks to all who help contribute to me learning about this a bit more. Taking your time to respond is deeply appreciated.
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Old March 23, 2014, 06:51 AM   #2
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http://www.barryleehands.com/an_amer...in_brescia.htm

"These men and women as a whole had no secret techniques—no ‘tricks.’"

The best engraving is done one tiny scratch at a time. No polishing, no ink, no color. Here is an example, a buckle done by Francesca Fracassi. She was taught by her father, Firmo. It was done with a bulino tool.



I don't know a thing about machine engraving, etc.

Bulino tool...

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Old March 23, 2014, 06:55 AM   #3
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http://www.viljomarrandi.com/2011/08...gravers-day-2/

Fracassi engraving closeup.

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Old March 23, 2014, 08:14 AM   #4
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Laser engraving can be done now for a fraction of the cost of the traditional style.
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Old March 23, 2014, 10:24 AM   #5
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Unfortunately, it looks like laser engraving. If that's what you like, the price is right. I certainly wouldn't pay a master engraver to put Smile and Wait for the Flash on the muzzle end of a barrel. Actually, I wouldn't pay anyone to do it, but that's beside the point.

JT
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Old March 23, 2014, 11:00 AM   #6
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Real engraving is cut into the workpiece - like a firearm - with a sharp tool of harder steel than the workpiece. The graver can be pushed by hand, chased with a small hammer, or even power driven like a tiny air hammer.

Simple stuff like lettering can be done with a rotary cutter working from a cut or drawn pattern with a pantograph linkage. The typical trophy shop engraving is done that way.
Laser "engraving" works the same way, it uses a hot laser beam to burn the pre-drawn pattern into the metal.
The old cheap way to apply embellishment was with acid etching. I think that has largely given way to laser engraving but there is some electrical etching done on knife blades and such. Some older mass produced guns had etched patterns that an engraver had spent a little time on cleaning up.

Colors are done by wiping the engraving with paint. Normally done on stuff like trademarks to make them stand out so you provide free advertising. There is a technique in real cut engraving called "ink and bake" which is used to give a dark background to patterns in white metal like stainless.

Engraving should be the next to the last thing done to a gun. The best appearance is by applying finish after engraving. I have seen a number of guns with engraving cut through the bluing or anodizing and they just look cheap to me. Of course if you are planning on filling the Gallic quotation with orange, white, and green paint (Why do you want to use those colors on a French saying? Or did you perhaps mean Gaelic?) that is up to you.
You would sure not send an 80% paperweight off to be engraved; there would be great risk of munging up the engraving as you attacked the blank part with Dremel and popsicle stick.

You can engrave about any surface on a firearm. Of course you do not want to roughen the working parts with engraving, which friction would scuff up anyhow. I never saw the point in engine turning for looks; it just accentuates the wear.

A BBQ gun is typically a handgun with the most decorative engraving you can afford, nickel plated.

There are whole books on the subject and a 7 year apprenticeship might get you into the business.

I went back and reread the OP. It seems you are more interested in text than scrolls, acanthus leaves, and swans. Here is one shop that does laser engraving, which I believe would suit your tastes.
http://www.customizedcreationz.com/s...engraving.html
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Old March 23, 2014, 09:36 PM   #7
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Jim,
Lasering will depend on the type of laser. Some will cut into the metal and some will not. Most trophy shops lasers will not remove metal. They will remove the color from the anodizing. Another method is to use a coating that the laser will bond to the metal.
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Old March 23, 2014, 09:43 PM   #8
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Oh SURE JohnBT, pull out the stops and start with the best folks in the world!
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Old March 23, 2014, 09:44 PM   #9
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Correct, I meant Gaelic. It was early in the morning and I did not catch the autocorrect. One of the many downsides to using the phone to browse.
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Old March 23, 2014, 09:52 PM   #10
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"Oh SURE"

I always try to start shopping by looking at the top, even if I can't afford it. At least I'll have a better idea of what level of quality I'm getting when I finally decide on a purchase.
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Old March 23, 2014, 10:05 PM   #11
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At the other end, according to the

http://www.engravingglossary.com/Han...ossary%20S.htm

what the Remington 1100 has on the receiver is DIE EMBOSSING or IMPRESSING. Just don't call it engraving.
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Old March 23, 2014, 10:08 PM   #12
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This is good info thanks guys
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Old March 23, 2014, 11:18 PM   #13
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True engraving go here... Select one. http://www.fega.com

Just letters, I would just go to the mall to one of those Memories or other stores that do laser etching/engraving.
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Old March 24, 2014, 10:35 PM   #14
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WTNFW,
Those markings do not qualify as "engraving" to me or to the BATF. If you want to discolor aluminum anodizing or fuse on a paint, that might be decorative for some tastes. But engraving or a reasonable imitation requires removal of stock.
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Old March 25, 2014, 06:29 AM   #15
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What are some options to doing it at home on an AR type receiver?
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Old March 25, 2014, 09:38 AM   #16
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Jim Downing is a nationally recognized engraver. I am acquainted with him (I used to be his cat's veterinarian before I retired) and I have watched him work. Rural Missouri magazine did an article on him this month:

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/rura...ri/201403/#/10

Can you do it yourself? Sure, if you are an artist and have had years to practice. I am not trying to criticize your artistic ability, I'm just saying that beginning sculptors should not expect to produce a "David". Compared to classical engraving, checkering a gunstock is child's play, and I have yet to master checkering.

Sincerely, if you want to give a gift of a finely engraved firearm, contact an experienced engraver and expect to pay a considerable amount and wait a while. It won't be cheap and it won't be fast, but you will be proud of it, and so will she. You will still get it faster than learning how to do the same quality of work yourself.
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Old March 25, 2014, 10:40 AM   #17
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Machine engraving

Hey man check out www.kayjaygunshop.com and look under the "services offered" or in the KJ-15 or Ares rifle tab. He does that engraving in house and knows all the rules and capabilities.
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Old March 25, 2014, 05:49 PM   #18
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It's a gift, like any great artist. My granddaughter has it. She just started drawing amazing things from memory when she was about 5 years old, "at least that's when we noticed". She is a quiet kid, and comes up with things that make you shake your head,, "like how and where did she get that from".
I think you may be able to learn enough to be mechanical to the point of checkering or even carving designs in wood, but to do the fancy elegant work with the shading and different depths needed is just something that you either have or don't have.
If you have ever known true artisans of their craft, you will understand, that they just see things that the rest of us don't, like musicians that just pick up any instrument and begin playing it. It's something in their heads that most don't have. One of life's great mysteries.
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Old March 25, 2014, 07:37 PM   #19
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Another option would be CNC engraving.....basically an image scanned into a computer program and executed by a CNC machine.

I have several Belgium engraved Brownings, done by tap-tap-tapping with hammer and chisel. Many of the apprentice engravers in Liege were women who did light engraving on A-5's and later graduated to more complex guns like the Superposes and pistols. The "Master engravers" were the only ones allowed to sign their works. The Renaissance hand guns were nickle plated with black India Ink wiped over the engraving to add contrast.

I've seen Jim Downing's work first hand and watched in awe at his ability with the Graver Miester.
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Old March 26, 2014, 07:20 AM   #20
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"It's a gift"

Years ago I was showing my elderly neighbor some removable clay-like window caulking and her 5-year-old granddaughter took a little piece and made a complete elephant about the size of a sugar cube. Ears, trunk, tusks, legs, tail the whole dang thing. We were sitting on the front porch and she did it in about 3 minutes while we watched. No tools, just pinch, push, pull, etc.

She was addicted to Animal Planet.
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Old March 26, 2014, 11:11 AM   #21
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A gift, and skill:



High end to the point that Torcolli even engraved the insides



No rough machining or tool marks inside this gun - but then at its price, there shouldn't be
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Old March 27, 2014, 08:30 PM   #22
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Take the time to watch this….the guy is an artist and hard working American. Good people!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbeGcpghPTs
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Old March 27, 2014, 10:41 PM   #23
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Remember, this is time lapse photography...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xi-WAhUv8g
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