The Engraver's Art

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

I like engraved knives. I realize that any fine quality handmade knife can stand on it’s own as a work of art. I enjoy knives based on these qualities and often the combination of quality fit and finish, fine design lines and materials is best left as is. However, I believe further artistic decoration, in the form of fine engraving, can enhance the visual impact of many knives.


Appreciating engraved knives is no different than appreciating other fine art forms just realize that the canvas is itself a piece of art, Steel Art. There are many engraving styles; Bulino, Bank Note, relief, inlay, etc.. No matter, these are the cornerstone styles from which engravers study, learn and develop their art. 
Engravers doing wildlife and/or anatomical scenes execute perhaps the most difficult expression of the engraving art. To faithfully represent these themes requires great skill.  


OK so now you want an engraved knife. How does one go about acquiring such a piece of art? The process is similar to acquiring any work of art; either purchase an existing piece or commission the creation of one.


Commissioning the creation of your artwork - Since the “canvas” is itself a work of art the decision to either commission the creation of a knife and/or an engraving is basically the same, you just go through it twice if your having a knife made to be engraved. Here are the basics of how it works; identify an artist, contact them, determine if they will fulfill a commission for you and, if they will you must agree on the project subject, materials, style, time and money issues. The benefit of this approach is the satisfaction and enjoyment in owning a knife you had a hand in creating. The difficulties of going this route are finding an artist that is accepting commissions and the wait time, the risk is that the finished piece of art does not meet your expectations.


Purchase an existing creation - find an existing piece of art that appeals to your scenes and buy it. Sometimes, though rarely, a knifemaker and/or engraver will occasionally complete an engraved piece on speculation (as opposed to fulfilling an order) and offer it up for sale. More often a purveyor will be the best source to find a selection of custom engraved knives. These would be found online and/or at knife shows. Pros; you get to see the finished piece and know you are buying something you like. Cons; pieces acquired this way are usually more expensive because someone else has done all the work and investment for you in advance.


I have and continue to pursue both routes experiencing all of the good, the bad and the ugly.


Please check out the work of some of my favorite engravers

  • Ray Cover Jr.

  • Brian Hocstrat

  • Jon Robyn

  • Julie Warenski-Erickson



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