View Full Version : newbie engraving question

03-06-2003, 05:43 PM
First, to say that there is some very impressive work here would be a gross understatement. I don't know what else to say, that wouldn't sound like something everyone else has said. Thank you for the inspiration.

Because that's what I came here for. I haven't even made my first knife yet. But it's on the way. I hope this is a very simple question.

In most of this engraving, there's a dark background where the material has been removed. Is this some sort of acid etching? Or something else? And how do you get that dark, while keeping the raised portion shiny (or what ever sheeen the metal has been taken to)?

Is this expensive to do, on a very basic level? Obviously, I'm not about to start doing works of art like these, but it would be great to try this on a simple design.

I've done a little (very little) engraving on aluminum pens that I make. It would have been nice to put something like this in it.

And can the same process be done on aluminum?

That was more than one question, wasn't it? Sorry, I was just so blown away by a lot of this work.


Tim Adlam
03-06-2003, 08:52 PM
Hi Mike, and welcome aboard!

The background is removed with gravers and chisels. Once the pattern is outlined, the negative space is cut away to a uniform depth. Darkening agents are used to increase the constrast. Acid can be used to lower the background, but controlling the "bite" of the acid takes a lot of experimenting. Acid is used for "special effects" in most instances.

Basically, the act of engraving, creates a crisp clean line in the base metal,...acid creates a "fuzzy" edge to the design.

Background removal, no matter what method is used, is a laborious process. The cost of doing this work is generally higher than basic fine-line engraving. Aluminum wouldn't be any problem, but I would suggest experimenting with darkening treatments.

Believe it or not, cutting the background away with gravers and chisels is less labor-intensive than working with acid....and a lot more healthy!

I'd like to see what you're working on, and maybe we can help you accomplish your mission!


03-06-2003, 10:04 PM
Aluminum has the potential of galling when the steel graver is pushed through. A very good lubricant is probably essential.

Lee R. Griffiths

03-07-2003, 03:58 AM
I guess I was all over the map when I asked my questions. I should have stuck to the one question. What do you use for the darkening agents?

I'm not working on any particular project right now. I was seeing if I could learn a few things to try in the future. Possibly on a knife or pen project.


Tim Adlam
03-07-2003, 12:03 PM

Chemical oxidizers, automotive paint, and marking pens have all been used to create the black background.

Lee's right about cutting aluminum. If you use a cutting fluid, I would thoroughly clean and de-grease the object with acetone before applying the blackening.