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Monday, March 9, 2009

The Hand Tool Powered by Human Muscle

"authentic" as defined from American Heritage Dictionary: Having a claimed and verifiable origin or authorship, not counterfeit or copied:....
"by-hand" as defined from the audioenglish.net dictionary: Without the use of a machine.
"hand-made" as defined from yourdictionary.com :

made by hand, not by machine; made by a process requiring manual skills.

These writings do not in any way belittle gun engraving accomplished by mechanically assisted devices, photo-engraving deepened by a hand burin or chemical method. My purpose is simply to promote authentic hand engraving. The logic of true traditional hand engraving on guns will be explored as a practical method and as a movement.
Technology can expand creativity but it can also interfere with creativity by eliminating authenticity. Copying a gun engraving pattern that has been traditionally executed with a burin or a hammer and chisel for centuries is not authentic when a power engraving tool is employed.
I believe that if one is going to engrave with power tools one should not be copying the designs of authentic hand engravers. In fact, it is much easier to duplicate the cutting of an original design using the same tools and techniques of the original engraver. Those who wish to engrave with a powered mechanical assist in the hand instead of a hand tool should be developing their own designs fit for powered tools. The human body accomplishing art with dexterity and skill is a world away from art created by a power tool, or a computer program. When steel is cut employing sinew, muscle, learned dexterity, and clarity of technique, it lends a certain authenticity to the engraving that a machine, or chemicals cannot equal.
I am promoting the idea that technology should not be employed to copy gun engraving designs that have traditionally been engraved by hand. The hand tool powered by human muscle lends itself to certain design characteristics. I am asserting that power assisted engraving tools also have their own ideal designs. I strongly believe that true traditional hand engraving cannot be replaced by something else. For this reason the power assisted tools engravers need to develop their own designs and not attempt to copy the art of the true authentic hand engraver.


  1. You do very nice work. I think a beautiful gun is a work of art. Did you do the checkering also? Nice job there too!

  2. I engraved the 2 unstocked receivers for Ithaca Gun Co. The stocked and completed gun is not engraved. The pattern is the traditional roll stamping used on the model 37 shotgun.The checkering was done by the factory.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog ~ thanks for posting such useful content./Nice article and great photos. Very nicely done!

    Hand Tools