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Fine Embellishment Everything from hand engraving and scrimshaw to filework and carving. The fine art end of the knifemaker's craft.

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  #1  
Old 03-22-2004, 10:57 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Teaching an Old Dawg

Talked with Tim a while back about displaying the leather side of fine embellishment and figured this was a good start -
It is true that you can teach and old dawg new tricks - here's living proof.



In 40+ years of leather crafting I have never done what one might call traditional 20th century leather carving. My previous work was all based on historical carving styles, mostly 19th century, and a style I have been developing that I call "leather engraving" which is based on the gun engraving styles used by Cuno Helfricht and LD Nimschke on Colt Firearms.
Anyway I got a recent order for a couple of drop loop holsters and the customer specified the style of carving so here it is.

Thanks to good friend Sandy M for helping me out with the patterns - the mistakes are all mine.


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  #2  
Old 03-22-2004, 11:10 PM
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Jim Small Jim Small is offline
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Chuck

I gotta tell you...I am really impressed. Those drop loop holsters look like the came out of the Will Rogers Museum. Really great work. Your work is first class. I really appreciate the style of the "leather engraving"....very nice!
I look forward to your next post.....

Thanks
Jim
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  #3  
Old 03-22-2004, 11:26 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Thanks Jim appreciate the nice critique.

A bit of confusion though - the above are examples off the "new" style I just learned to do. Here is an example of my "Leather Engraving" style - based on the Cuno Helfricht style engraving on the knife.


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  #4  
Old 03-22-2004, 11:44 PM
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Tim Adlam Tim Adlam is offline
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Impressed as well Chuck!

The effect resembles relief woodcarving.

Are you using a veining cutter to outline the design or a swivel knife?

I like that deep raised look!

Tim
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  #5  
Old 03-22-2004, 11:53 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Howdy Tim-
Basic technique for all leather carving is:
1) case the leather (get it damp all the way through), transfer the pattern with a ball end styles
2)cut all outlines with a swivel knife (here one must be careful NOT to crossover lines - if you do you can get little "tails" of leather sticking up)
3)Use bevelers along the outline cuts to press the background down
4)stamp in the background with the backfgorund tool of your choice - these tools are kind of like stipplers
5)do the detail stamping and modeling
6)finally do the deco cuts with a swivel knife.


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  #6  
Old 03-23-2004, 12:24 AM
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Chuck,

That swivel knife technique always has me puzzled.
I assume that you cut in the direction you feel most comfortable doing?
The thing that gets me is controlling that tool while holding it upright!
What can you do to get a steady and smooth cut when doing curved lines?

Thanks,
Tim
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Old 03-23-2004, 12:26 AM
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Very Cool Chuck !!
I have always considered leather tooling an art in it's own right,
and I wondered when when one of you guys would make it over here. Welcome and I am looking forward to seeing more. Not that I haven't been admiring your work in the other areas of the forum.

Darren


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  #8  
Old 03-23-2004, 01:03 AM
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Hey Chuck-

WOW! Your multi-talents still continue to amaze me.

All three examples are just spectacular...

Your work certainly belongs on display in this forum...under the heading "Extremely Fine Embellishment!"


Dennis Greenbaum

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  #9  
Old 03-25-2004, 02:10 PM
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Chuck Burrows Chuck Burrows is offline
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Thanks guys -
Tim re: your swivel knife questions:

The cut is always (well almost ) made towards you. The swivel knife is not held perpendicular to the leather - rather it's about a 75-80 degree leaning forward (away from your hand) at the top with only the front 1/3 of the blade doing the cutting. When held like this cutting curves is a breeze - well after some practice any way it becomes a real fluid movement. Your hand/wrist should rest lightly on the leather as you work so that it will slide around freely as you make your cuts.
When doing circles, full scrolls - move the leather rather than cramping your hand. I do know a couple of carvers who have taken lazy susan type turntables and made them into an over-sized version of an engraver's vise, but all I have tried moved too easily and I get better control without them.
Like anything else it's practice, practice, practice.
Also the type, shape, and size of your blade can be varied. Sandy Morrissey for instance uses a 3/8" straight steel blade for most of his work. On the other hand I use a 1/4" angle ceramic blade for most of mine. I use the 3/8" for long straight lines or larger patterns, but prefer the smaller angled blade for most of my work. It's not that one is necessarily "better: it's more a matter of what works best for you. I used a steel blade for years and only in the last couple of years have I used the ceramic blade - I will never go back! It cuts smoother than any steel blade I ever used, but it is more delicate so you have to be more careful with it.


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The beautiful sheaths created for storing the knife elevate the knife one step higher. It celebrates the knife it houses.
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2004, 09:06 PM
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Hi Chuck.. I want to echo what Dennis wrote, your work belongs here in this section big time.. Those holsters are remarkable, and it makes me wish I had a revolver worthy of them.. If I could get my hands on some of the SSA's Ron and Jim work on, and one of your holster and bowie knife rigs, oh man...... Excellent clarity on the photo too, as usual..It really showcases your work nicely..Best, Rich
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  #11  
Old 03-25-2004, 10:03 PM
Sandy Morrissey Sandy Morrissey is offline
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Swivel knife tips----

Tim, my friend---The two easiest ways to cut smoothly with that handy dandy little tool are to properly case (prepare) the leather and properly sharpen the knife. There are varying degrees of angle that will work according to the width of the cut opening and the depth of the cut desired. In this respect it is to your advantage to have several knives at your disposal. Strangely enough, it is not the sharpness of the blade that is most critical. The side or bevel of the blade must have a high polish in order to cut smoothly and, in the case of a steel blade, must be stropped on a strop faced with jewelers rouge as soon as you can feel the knife dragging. The ruby and ceramic blades do not require stropping but are extremely fragile and are rather expensive. As Chuck stated, only the pointed edge is used for incising. In the case of the tapered blade that he prefers, there is only one cutting area, on the straight blade there are two. This allows one to cut longer before hitting the strop. If incising over a period of time that lets your leather get too dry, the knife will again start to drag and it is difficult to cut smooth curves. Jerky curves are the bane of leather carving-- so the leather should be cased again. This can often be done by moistening the flesh side of the leather. If the carving can not be finished in one session it can be placed between towels that have been wet and then wrung as dry as possible and placed in a refrigerator. The frost free refrigerator will dry it more rapidly than the old type. ---- //////////////////////////////// INFO ON THE KNIFE----It is not necessary to buy an expensive knife with a ball bearing yoke. The most you can rotate the barrel between thumb and second finger is probably less than 120 degrees in either direction and that certainly does not require ball bearings! The diameter of the barrel generally comes in two sizes, small and large (can't remember the exact dimensions) and you should try both to find your preference. The barrels will be knurled so check to see if they are sharp as you might want to temper the edges with emery paper. Your knuckle on your long finger will get enough abuse without being constantly abraded. Make sure that the knife you get is one that is adjustable as to length. I find that the proper adjustment for me is to set the yoke at the web of my index and second finger and adjust the length so that the edge of the blade comes to the tip of my second finger. I have seen a few carvers that push the knife but it just does not make sense. You have much better control when pulling and you can use your left hand (assuming you are right-handed) to hold your work on the far side of where you are working allowing you to see your work. It is extremely difficult to taper or feather a cut when pushing. The greater amount of your cuts will be what is called a "comma" cut that starts deep, curves left or right and tapers shallow at the end. All decorative cuts are of this nature. Border cuts are the exception. Save your scrap pieces of leather and practice your cuts, it will enhance your abilities. After 60 years of carving, I still practice this way. Very little of my scraps hit the waste bin prior to have been cut all to he--! Sandy


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Last edited by Sandy Morrissey; 03-25-2004 at 10:13 PM.
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  #12  
Old 03-25-2004, 11:41 PM
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Tim Adlam Tim Adlam is offline
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Thanks for the clarification Sandy and Chuck.

I can really appreciate the skill-level involved in the work you guy's create.

Like you, I view the knife/sheath combo as a whole package.
Something's not quite right with a well-finished
custom knife and a "ho-hum" sheath!

Looking forward to seeing more "art leather".

Tim
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