View Full Version : ---Mike's Contest Submission Discussion---

07-08-2008, 02:54 PM
This is a re-post of MikeDubber's contest submission, found here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1893) If you'd like to discuss or give comments on Mike's submission, this is the place to do it. :D

You can read about the current contest, its $2100 in prizes, and how to enter here (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1864), as well as see all of the contest entries in the contest sub-forum here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14) Enjoy! Kaitlin

Budweiser Browning:

Over the next month or so I'll be photo recording progress on the 2009 Budweiser Browning. This is a project that started in 1993 and is now in it's 15th year. Each year I engrave a Browning Citori for Colorado Ducks Unlimited. The gun and engraving is paid for by the Fort Collins Budweiser Plant. The Colorado State Chapter of Ducks Unlimited promotes the project at its local dinners with sales of Budweiser Beer Steins - each local auction winner of the Stein is entered into a drawing which is pulled during the Annual State DU Meeting. At this point the project has produced income for Ducks Unlimited exceeding $350,000.

The Citori is shipped to me from Browning in-the-white. On one side of the gun I do an engraved interpreation of the current annual Ducks Unlimited State Stamp. On the other side I do a gold inlay of the Budweiser A & Eagle - Budweiser's principal business logo.

I am licensed through Anheuser Busch to reproduce their logo on these projects. I'll eventually show you the entire project, but this tutorial will concentrate on the steps I take to faithfuly produce the detailed Budweiser A & Eagle logo in a flush 24K gold inlay. I also use the Ducks Unlimited logo on each gun - that logo is also recorded on the plate for future use. One year I used rose and scroll engraving for a change of pattern - you'll see a English scroll pattern I also recorded ont heleft.

The gun arrived from Browning last month, I have taken it apart and will start the layout and engraving work soon.:cheers2:

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This is the original engraving plate I cut in 1998, after we determined that the project was a success and that we would be continuing year-after-year. Although I change the engraving patterns and coverage every year, the Budweiser logo is always the same. I use this plate to transfer the logo image directly to the new Browning each year. This plate also shows the engraving pattern I developed for the 1998 gun.

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Next, I've laid out the cartouche border in which I will inlay the A & Eagle logo - the line was cut with a Detailing graver and the sides are being undercut with a chisel shaped tool to achieve the undercut - this border will be inlaid in gold. I've started some of the scroll work on the top of the action.

...and the gold wire is set using the Lindsay Classic with a brass puch to hammer it into the undercut.


The gold border is set and I'm ready to continue with the A & Eagle inlay.

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The image of the A & Eagle has now been transferred to the gun (wax transfer) and the outline of the inlay has been cut. I have stacks of Master Plates containing animals and other images that I can referrence and re-use as I need them. If I need a mule deer, I can probabaly find four or five I have recorded - the last use may have been for a line or scrulpted deer, now I may need that image for an inlay. The idea is to keep these images on plates for immediate and future use. Paper images are OK, but the ability to pick up am existing image that I created some time back, pick it up with wax and transfer directly for engraving, saves lots of artistic time. Don't be concerend abut the roughness of the inlaid gold line. That will be left for cleanup in the final steps of this tutorial.


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I typically outline my inlay cavity area with blue permanent marker - that allows me to see the areas better, esecially those very small areas you see inside the lnlay borders that are not to be removed. Removing metal for inlay is neither aristic nor fun, and I usually do it fast. More than once I've cut out small areas like that while I was "plowing" through to get to the next step. That causes lots of extra work, but since I started using the blue marker that hasn't happened.


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Here I have started to excavate the inlay cavity. I like to use small liner gravers to do this work - the Muller 6/8 bent liner works great. It is small (about 1/2mm wide) and the teeth of the liner help create a good surface for the next inlay process. I like these more than flat gravers. You can see that I've cut the bend of the original liner contour back so that I have about a 15 degree "heel." The factory the "bend" is 30 degrees - way too much for this purpose. I've also removed material from the top of the graver to creat a more streamlined look that allows for viewing space - especially while working under the scope.

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The inlay cavity is now completely cleaned out, flat on the bottom with a consistent depth of about 1/2 mm, and the edges have been "raised" or undercut with the same flat chisel I used to undercut the border. Close examination will reveal that all the edges have been disturbed - or "Lifted." The second photo shows that I have cut 90 dgeree parallel lines accross the entire cavity - each of these lines have also been undercut with the chisel



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Finally, the entire cavity is cross-cut with the same chisel to create hooks of steel that will bite into the gold wires as they are set. Depending on the size of your screen, you may be seeing this illustration at 2 or 3 times its actual size. The hooks could only be appreciated by running your finger across the bottom of the cavity. The points of the cross-cut are very pointed and sharp, and, since they are very much harder than annealed 24K gold, they easily grab into the gold as it is set. I've removed gold from similar cavities and close examination also shows that as the hooks grab and sink into the soft gold, they also start to bend over as the setting process continues. That firmly locks the gold inside the cavity!


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The inlay process is now started. The wires (20 ga. 24K gold) are punch set in the direction of the chisel cross-cuts. Setting is accomplished with the same brass punch - made out of 1/8" brazing rod and continously "Textured" on a small sheet of 180 grit sandpaper glued to my bench. Texturing the tip of my punch causes it to bite the gold wire as it is set. No texturing allows the punch to spread the gold outwardly instead of punching it down.

Notice that in "1" that the gold was allowed to overspread the pointed feathers - in "2" notice that small areas of cavity left over are filled with small pieces of gold that were angled to fit the initial cavity shape and then cut off with a flat graver at the proper ending angle - it is not yet set in in this photo. At "3" you'll notice where I stopped and started the gold wire before and after the raised cavity boss.

Also recognize that the gold is not entirley set. It is, perhaps, set at about 85% of it's final level. All the wires are set at this level until the cavity is filled. The final step before "flushing the inlay" to the level of the surrounding metal will be to set it 100% and really make the wires "cold weld" into a solid sheet of gold. Technically, they really don't weld together, but the molecules are so closley hammered together that you will not be able to see parting lines. I should also mention that as much as possible, try not to allow the gold lines to overlap one another as they are set.


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OK, the A&E inlay is entirley set and ready to "flush" with the surface - but first, since I will be flushing the entire side of the action, I laid out additional decorative lines for inlay as well. The two sides panels are essentially the same design, but the rear set has been stretched to fit the action boss at the top and contracted to fit the smaller space at the bottom rear. It seems like and easy thing to do, but it always challenges me to make these small adjustments and make them match esthetically.


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Undercutting Punches:
OK, there have been lots of questions and it's time to break and describe the "undercut" graver I've been using and how it creates the undercut and upsets the edges in preparation for setting gold.

The tool is shaped like a small chisel. There are three shown in this photo, each of a different size (large to small, right to left) and they are all three shaped exactly the same. I also positioned each of them to show the progression of the face from front to side. You will see that they have a slight roll across the face of the tool - that's to keep the tool from sticking in the undercut as I drive it along the line with the PalmControl or Classic. It's very easy to see the edge of the metal being upset and undercut. It only takes a little upsetting to create the undercut and raised edge. The tool is hand-ground and polished bright. Logically, for a long stright line of inlay I would use the large faced tool - for tight curves I would use the small. I also have some for inlaying letters that are very small. For letters that are 1/16" or smaller, I use my hammer to chase the outside edges of letters. It's only necessry to raise letter edges a tiny bit and the curves ares so tight, that air gravers just work too fast for that application.


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In this photo I've completed undercutting the edges of the decorative scrolls with the chisel punches seen in the previous shot. Gold has been completely set into the left panel and it is started on the right. Logically, as I approach wider inlay areas I simply switch to heavier gauge gold wire and continue setting the inlay void. In setting the left panel I used four different gauges of gold wire.

As always, my brass punch sets the gold tightly but does not damage the surrounding metal - and I keep it textured on the face by repeatedly buzzing it on a sheet of 180 grit sandpaper as I work. You can see that the face of the punch is starting to spread and mushroom from the setting process. I'll soon need to reshape this punch.


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I'm ready to start "flushing" off the excess gold material and bringing it level with the steel surface. For large flat areas like this Citori I like to use a draw file (obtained from Bronwells). I also use it on slightly radiused surfaces like floor plates. You can see that I also use file chalk with the draw file. This prevents "pinning" (filling the cuts of the file with metal) and it also prevents file wear. In this shot the file has been loaded with chalk.

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The draw file only cuts in one direction, and typically one positions it to cut as it is "drawn" or pulled toward you. "Pushing" the draw file away from you causes chatter. In this photo I am drawing the file across the surface and it is cutting off the excess gold. That excess is being captured in a paper tray I place below the work area and between the vise jaws. All the cuttings are saved for refining. The correct technique is to pull the file under pressure and then releasing that pressure as it is pushed on the return stoke - meaning that the file is not lifted from the surface on the light return stroke. You can see the gold filings accumulate in my paper "catch" tray.


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The entire surface has now been leveled and draw filing is has been completed.

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Now I porceed by using a flat hardwood block and succeeding grits of wet and dry sandpaper to clean up the file strokes. I start with 220, then 400, then 800 grit papers...and I use honing oil for fluid.


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Finally, I use a hard rubber eraser to pad 1200 grit paper and create a smooth final finish. I'll use more after cutting the details into the Budweiser A & Eagle inlay. The time required to level or "flush" the entire inlaid surface was 35 minutes....and it took about 1/3 ounce of 24k to fill the entire side.


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Before going on to the opposite side of the action I finished the bottom. All fifteen of the Budweiser Brownings have the Ducks Unlimited logo inlaid somewhere within the engraving patterns.


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07-08-2008, 05:45 PM
Looking forward to watching this Mike!

Do you cut pieces to shape or build these sort of things up wire by wire?

I recently learned the wire-by-wire technique and for me it seems easier than depending on my somewhat shakey transfer and saw skills.

07-09-2008, 06:11 AM
I did my last tutorial (An Engraving Puzzle) creating the Brittany in sheets of silver and gold. This inlay will be done with wires.

I do not prefer one method over the other - I would only suggest that engravers who do inlay better know how to do both. There are many good reasons to use sheet or wire during the proper application, and on the particular subject at hand. Likewise, I have discovered that if you come off as an expert and say this is right way or this is wrong way to do anything, you will face immediate challenge and someone out there will prove you worng!

Once again, I use both solid and wire inlays, not preferring one over the other. I do believe that I save time and material (precious gold material) using the wire method. The Budweiser logo has lots of irregular edges and feather tips - it would be very time consuming to cut, trim and fit the A & Eagle using a jewelers saw.

Mike Dubber

07-09-2008, 07:26 AM
Thanks Mike!

I had thought that there were good reasons for using both methods - otherwise one would have died off in the face of the other, more superiour method.

Gene Tru
07-14-2008, 07:54 AM
I'm really enjoying your tutorial. Nice neat and clean work. What gravers are you using to cut the outline on the Eagle and to do the cross hatching in the excavation after the liner, is the one for cross hatching, one that you have made specifically for job?
Thanks, Good job,

07-14-2008, 09:41 AM
I'm using a 90 degree graver (actually a graver sharpened with the Lindsay Detailing template) to cut the outline of the logo and the perimeter of the A & Eagle. The "chisel" shaped tool that I use to do undercut is one I grind myself from used dot punches (in the jewelry busienss we call these beading tools). I'll try to get a good photo of one of these, or maybe a drawing, but they are essentially a chisel shaped punch.

07-14-2008, 11:45 AM
So just for clarification ... you are using the undercut tool for material displacement and not removal.

Also ... any particular preference/reason for wire over sheet?

Thank-you in advance ... Chris

Regarding your editorial .... seen that on the news this morning as well. I have a feeling what Glenn Beck will be ranting about later:yesnod: .

07-14-2008, 02:07 PM

I do use a 90 degree graver to make a fiinal cut entirley around the inlay cavity, but that's done more to clean up the edges than to undercut. The chisel (I've promised several responders that I would include a photo of that tool) is used to "undercut" or "upset" and raise the edges in preparation for the inlay.

I have to be very careful in explaining that I do not prefer wire inlay over sheet inlay...not do I use wire more than sheet. I do believe that I save both time and material using wires to fill inlay cavities. First I don't have to trace out and pierce the inlay from a sheet sheet or file and fit it to fit the cavity (that's a very time consuming process). Secondly, there are no unusable cuttings left over from cutting a sheet. Yes, those can be melted down, rolled out and reused, or sent to a refiner - but all that eats up more time and cost. Wires are quick and simple. The cavity is prepared exactly the same way and when its ready you simply start inlaying gold wire...as per the tutorial.

I don't prefer wire when I'm inlaying into a curved surface - like on the recoil shield of this Colt SAA. I would never trust wire to stay in/on that kind of surface - so this would have been a really bad place to try to accomplish a wire inlay - too big and area and outwardly curved. Wires tend to stretch and bend upwardly as they are set and when they are not confined in a flat place.

....and about the Budweiser thing - it's Coors for me and my Road King...America first!


07-14-2008, 03:30 PM

Excellent point about why sheet is better than multiple wires for some cases. Hadn't thought about wires wanting to rise up in the center combining (in a bad way) with a curved surface. Just another reason it's good to learn both methods.

07-14-2008, 07:17 PM
Yep, pound on any piece of metal and it tends to sink in the center and sping up on the edges:willy_nilly: !

07-14-2008, 08:25 PM

Thank you very much for the clarification. I did kinda ask a question that you already answered but the additional details on where you prefer to use gold sheet is the type of "specific" I was looking for.

Also as you mention ... I think that one of the most difficult parts of doing an inlay this size in wire is not allowing any of the new wire to overlap the previous, adjacent line of wire.

The Colt is beautiful Mike.

I'm in 110% agreement ... be American, buy American!!!! Even though 1973 was the last year that Harleys were 100% American made, I'll still be buried with my Evo!!!

Thanks again Mike.

07-16-2008, 03:51 AM
Hi Mike

A really great tutorial, although I have read of inlaying with wires, Its finally making sense with your step by step description and photos, looking forward to the rest of your submission.

Thanks Paul

07-27-2008, 12:52 PM
Excellent tutorial, Mike!


07-27-2008, 02:33 PM
Thanks Weldon!

07-27-2008, 10:36 PM
The chalk in the draw file is fantastic tip. This tutorial contest is gonna be really close. Very exciting indeed!!!

07-28-2008, 07:50 AM
A lot of good tips tucked into this one Mike!

I particularly like the one about coloring the metal you don't want to remove - I haven't done much inlay yet but, uh... 'adjusting' the area on the fly is something I can easily see myself doing. Hopefully with this tip from you I can avoid that particular bit of happiness.

Tim Wells
07-29-2008, 08:29 PM
That draw file from Brownells; is that special made for the purpose, and now I wonder if I was wrong for using just a new Nicholson Mill Bastard for flattening the frame and barrel of my 73' Wichester?

Is the cut on that like a Mill, Mill Bastard, or even finer?

We sure do appreciate all those photos for the tutorial, keep em' coming and maybe, just maybe you can win Steve's Corvette:drool5:

07-30-2008, 10:34 AM
Great tutorial Mike, look forward to a class in the future...
Thanks so much,

08-04-2008, 02:28 PM
This is a re-post of MikeDubber's contest submission, found here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1893) If you'd like to discuss or give comments on Mike's submission, this is the place to do it. :D

You can read about the current contest, its $2100 in prizes, and how to enter here (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1864), as well as see all of the contest entries in the contest sub-forum here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14) Enjoy! Kaitlin

I am working my way around the action of the Browning Citori. This is a photo of the top of the action, release lever and safety.


08-07-2008, 11:57 AM
This is a re-post of MikeDubber's contest submission, found here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1893) If you'd like to discuss or give comments on Mike's submission, this is the place to do it. :D

You can read about the current contest, its $2100 in prizes, and how to enter here (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1864), as well as see all of the contest entries in the contest sub-forum here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14) Enjoy! Kaitlin

This is my engraved interpretation of the e-mail Duck Stamp image sent to me by Colorado DU Regional Director - the birds are part of the 2009 Colorado State Waterfowl Stamp. As in most other States, winning images are picked from entries of original art-on-canvas submitted by artists in open competition.

The ducks and decorative gold scrolls were inlaid the same manner as shown in the progression of the Budweiser AS & Eagle inlay on the opposite side of the action.


08-12-2008, 10:08 AM
Hi Mike,
All the photo's accept the last 2 Does Not Exist,? Please Help!!!

08-12-2008, 02:57 PM
The photos have now been restored to the Tutorial.

Mike Dubber

08-15-2008, 10:40 AM
Mike this is stunning work and a very informative tutorial.




08-15-2008, 11:43 AM
I am Out Of Words,:willy_nilly: If I Make A Mistake Typing, please Bear with Me.!!
I Have Been in a State off Don't Try It,:eek: That Is Inlay, :lol: My Good Friend Jacques told me to go for it!! But I Didn't Know How To Cut Out The Groove.:banghead:
This has Made My Trying Out, to Inlay a Better Prospective, I made Some Chissle points from steve's sq blanks,:hurray:
I Notice that You Undercut, (is That The right discription ?) at a 90 deg, angnle to Your Groove,? Not Running the Chissle in line with the groove?
What A Great Tutorial for Us Out of Town or Country Guyes.:drool5:

08-15-2008, 12:53 PM
This is a re-post of MikeDubber's contest submission, found here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1893) If you'd like to discuss or give comments on Mike's submission, this is the place to do it. :D

You can read about the current contest, its $2100 in prizes, and how to enter here (http://www.engravingforum.com/showthread.php?t=1864), as well as see all of the contest entries in the contest sub-forum here. (http://www.engravingforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14) Enjoy! Kaitlin

The Lindsay PalmControl was born for this kind of fine detail!

Furthermore, the lightness of touch allows the engraver to engrave on soft 24K gold with confidence. I used the PalmControl at its lightest setting and it took very little "push" to accuratley guide the Lindsay System Universal grind graver throught the cuts. This Browning Citori action was hand-polished to a very bright sheen and good photography (for me) was difficult, but you can see some of the detail.


Now I'm ready to return it to Browning for bluing and reassembly, and after that it will be forwarded to the Colorado Ducks Unlimited organization so they can start promoting the gun for the State auction. It will not be possible for me to show the gun on this Tutorial after it is blued.

08-15-2008, 03:16 PM
That's just beautiful in the white. Later, if there's an accesible picture of it blued I know I'd appreciate a link over to it.

Blued the scroll should, I think, be less visible (which is a bit of a shame) but that gold is going to POP!

08-16-2008, 07:35 AM
Mike, thanks for the great tutorial! I've been wanting to try this technique for quite some time and this post has cleared many of the questions I've had about this issue.

I now have successfully completed my first wire inlay. However, when I tried to cross-cut the wider sections, my chisel (on the second pass) would knock down the initial groove instead of raising a bur. I'm not sure whether the problem was my angle of attack, my chisel geometry, the direction of my cut, or something else entirely. I'm sure with a little experimentation I'll figure out what I am doing wrong, though I'm open to any suggestions.

Thanks again!

-James Perkins

08-16-2008, 08:44 AM

A tip I got in a class was to make your 'toothing' cuts in the opposite order from what you would tend to do them. Instead of working from the 'top' to the 'bottom' you want to go the other way so that your new cut isn't pushing into the previous one(s).

georgiu cornel
10-30-2010, 09:40 PM
Hi Mike, My name is Cornel and live in France. I suppose that I am the last register on the forum. I am cutler and I have to begin engraving 2 years ago. Now I want to make damascening. Your tutorial does my questions answer well has but will I want to know how one uses the chisel shaped tool to make the side.
Thank you for your nice work.

10-19-2012, 11:12 AM
That's just beautiful work. Great design, crisp execution. Beating a dead horse a bit, so the undercutting chisels do have sharp edges but have slightly convex faces to help with displacing the metal, and also to help keep them from wedging in the grooves?
Do you try to lay the wire in the direction of one of the sets of grooves, or doesn't that matter much?
I'll have to dig out my Meeks book, but I think the sharp edged crosshatching is what he described for sheet inlays. With regard to sheet being better than wire (or not), do you find any tendency for the wires to separate as you're doing the final engraving after flattening/surfacing? No matter how mushed together they are, they're still separate pieces, as you noted, though even work hardened from the setting I imagine they cut so easily with sharp gravers that there's not much side force on them, and where are they going to go anyway? It's a wonderful piece. I love the way the gold pops after bluing. Thanks for sharing all this with us!