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I am hoping someone can provide me with a contact to have some artwork engraved on a butt cap.  Any referral would be appreciated.  (Scott Grady)

    I've got a great engraver who does custom work. His name is Jeff Knodle and his phone number is (734) 854-1034. His email address is

    Here are a couple of links to photos of a reel seat he just did for me:

    Fultz, Jeff Reel Seat 1

    Fultz, Jeff Reel Seat 2

    (Jeff Fultz)


Is there any merit in these 10 buck Chinese hi-speed rotary engravers? I use them for rough work like putting my name on aluminum fly boxes.  (Bill Fink)

    I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but I get all of my engraving done at the local bowling alley/trophy shop.  They have diamond tipped CAD engravers, and can make anything they can scan or download in addition to the fonts and graphics they have with their program.  (Brian Creek)

      Has anyone thought about laser engraving?  I have a trophy shop in town that has the CAD setup and I’ve seen a few samples of what they can do for reasonable prices.  (John Freedy)

        I was thinking more in the line of "rose and scroll" engraving like Harry Boyd does on special order for his customers.  Or Paolo Barbetti (sp?) does for Bellinger reels and Whitehead rods.

        Can the trophy shop setups do that kind of stuff, or is it more like line art and text???  (Joe West)

      Like Brian wrote, they can do graphics, fonts etc.  One example was a fish, another I saw was scroll type engraving.  Laser work as such is only limited to their inventory of graphics or what the customer brings in.  Another thing that is done to enhance laser engraving is the use of different chemical agents (similar to bluing).  Results can be anything from antiquing, to brass colorations etc.  The only thing I have noticed with laser engraving is that it does not seem to be as dimensional as hand engraving.  (John Freedy)

    I have my logo laser-etched into reel seats.   Cost is $3 - $4 each, if you have a dozen or more done at a time.  If you're interested, I'll put you in touch with Pat Kaveney who does the work for me.  I would ask that you tell Pat that Harry sentcha.  (Harry Boyd)

    Hand engraving is not as hard as it sounds if you use magnification. I have no artistic talent when it comes to drawing and painting but I've done some really neat engraving on nickel silver reel seat hardware and ferrules. I use a 10X microscope and made my own engraving stylus. For nickel silver, you don't need anything really hard, a dentists pick works well if sharpened to a fine point. I found out the most important thing in a stylus is a large comfortable handle or your hand will cramp up something fierce.   (Jeff Fultz)

      I did some engraving on brass parts on muzzle loaders about 25 years ago.  It's not too difficult mechanically, my problem is a lack of artistic ability.  Was able to make some gravers from drill rod, hardened, etc., that worked better (for me) than the ones from Dixie Gun Works.  They were also much more comfortable cause I used large handles made from broom handles.  (Carey Mitchell)


A friend of mine in South Carolina has set up shop at home to do jewelry design work.  He designed jewelry for several years in a local shop here in Arkansas before moving to SC to do ministry work.  He did some engraving for me on my last rod.  Several folks at CRR asked for contact information.  So with his permission, I'm posting his name and e-mail address if anyone needs some engraving work done.  I've also attached a picture of the sliding band he did for me.  This is my home made reel seat hardware.  The quality of the engraving is much better than the hardware.

Here's his contact info:

Rick Castleman

(David Bolin)


 I'm looking for an engraver who has experience with reel seat engraving. This one I know (Jeff Knodle) but he is only working in winter times. He takes 350$ for the engraving on this reel seat he has on his gallery. Is this a good price?  (Olaf Kundrus)

    You know, I think Art is hard to price. It's priced at what people are willing to pay for it. That reel seat looks really nice, but $350 would be way too steep for me. I would guess I could be talked into paying $100 bucks or so if I really wanted to add an engraving to one of my rods. The deal is, if people are willing to pay him $350 for that amount of work, then it's worth it for him to price accordingly. 

    I see your point though, if you got this and then saw an equally nice engraving done by say an up and coming local jewelry maker (maybe from a Jewelers class or something)for less then half the price. If you want a piece of art on your rod with that artists signature on it then go for it, but if you want an engraving, man, I'd check some local Jewelry shops for leads or something.  (Martin Jensen)

    The price he charges sounds extremely high to me but then it depends on just what the engraving is. I take the reel seat end caps and the rod case caps to a local trophy shop and get the engraving done for about $5-10.  (Ray Gould)

      The engraved hardware that Jeff Knodle did was on a set of hardware for me. This is no run of the mill engraving though, it features a couple of two dimensional trout, a finely detailed mayfly and some of the prettiest scroll work I have ever seen. $350 was a fair price for the labor and skill involved. Just think about how much I charged the customer for the completed rod, most would say it was a ridiculous price! I have also had some local engraving done. Some was artful, others have just been simple rod ID's and names. I guess you get what you pay for.  (Jeff Fultz)

        The engraving Knodle did for you looks great, and $350 is an altogether fair price. Even without getting into questions of what "art" may or may not be worth, there is the craftsman's time to consider, and this becomes an entirely different matter from any comparisons to machined engraving. Machines, of course, are automated and they work quickly from design templates already created for the purpose. Although the machines themselves need to be paid for, you do not need to be an engraver to use one. The results are perhaps "OK," but they bear no comparison to the quality of hand-engraving (like the comparison of computer-generated sounds to those of actual musical instruments.)

        Hand-engraving takes a great many years to master. It's not only a matter of learning to manage the variety of graver tools to make the different kinds of cuts, but also one of learning how to create images of various sorts, and how to design these to fill the spaces you have. In all, its often the case with custom work, that more time can be spent in developing a particular design than in the actual cutting.

        So, assuming our engraver is trying to earn a living, and needs to gross at least $30 bucks an hour (a gross income of maybe something like $60,000), he couldn't afford to spend more than 11 1/2 hours on the project -- start to finish. And I can promise you that Knodle would have invested every bit of that, and a good deal more.

        Having arrived at this point, now let's add in the question of what one-of-a-kind "art" may be worth, and we see that we didn't pay anything for that. Those who would not be willing to pay $350 to have what you have, simply are not interested in getting the real McCoy--it's not a matter of whether or not you got what you paid for.  (Bill Harms)

      Go to Jeff Knodle’s site and check out the reel seat (under Gallery) in question. It is quite nice but I tend to agree with you.  (Martin Jensen)

        If all you want is some lettering, he's really expensive.  However, when you get into "art", which I'd say his engravings are, maybe not too high.  For instance, Jimmy Acord gets in the same price neighborhood for his leather work.  I just wish I could afford it.  (Neil Savage)

        If you are talking a true engraving, a process of gouging the metal with a tool, where extraordinary control  and skill are required three hundred and fifty dollars is a real bargain!

        I looked at the work on the web site and the work may have been done by etching either with laser or acid etc. and it is still nice work requiring considerable talent but allowing some leeway for making corrections to the drawing. $350. is still not an unfair price for that talent or skill.

        Can you get Super Bowl tickets for that kind of money? Even if you could the experience would only last a few hours but this artwork will last centuries. Dentists, Doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. often make far, far, more than that for their time and skill.

        I would suggest talking to the artist and ask him his credentials, his training, his process, etc. and then make up your own mind.  (Dick Steinbach)

        Also, he could be using one of those little diamond tipped electric vibrators and calling that engraving as well.

        Again, ask about his process, he might just be tracing stencils which is quite easy.  (Dick Steinbach)

          I can't tell for sure from the pictures in his gallery, but I don't think he'd be able to get away with anything except true engraving on firearms.  Anything less would destroy the value of the weapon.  (Neil Savage)

    If you live in Germany, don't forget the long time tradition of the German engravers.  May be a little "baroque" for somebody, but for sure of great effect.  (Marco Giardina)


Does anyone have a recommendation for an engraver to engrave ferrules and reel seat hardware?   Any leads would be appreciated.  (Jim Brandt)

    Check with Dave Kenney, Middlesex, VT.  He does engraving, but I don't know if he only does it for his rods.  (Ron Larsen)

    I realize it may be impractical to look to Australia for the work you want, however, the most stunning rod engraving I've ever seen may be viewed at Nick Taransky's site and click on Gallery/engraving.  Something to shoot for, eh?  (Darrol Groth)

    I'm not sure if he engraves for others, you could contact him to find out. I think Bill Oyster of Oyster Bamboo is one of the best out there today. Check out the stunning work at his web site. Especially the Presentation grade rod he made and engraved for former President Jimmy Carter.  (Will Price)

      I think if Bill decided to do engraving for others he would find himself as a full time engraver... at any price!  (Joe Arguello)


Anyone here proficient at engraving? Looking at spending some time perfecting the techniques of engraving if I can get the right info. Can anyone point me in the right directions here, or share some info to get me started? Any good books available or DVDs you can recommend a beginner.  (Gary Nicholson)

    Dave Kenney also engraves.  (Ron Larsen)

      Did a search for local engraving class looks like there are non in my area. Remember I am in the Uk.

      What really need is some advise to get me started. There must be a recommended book or DVD. come on guys.  (Gary Nicholson)

    Track of the Wolf - Master the art of engraving

    From:  Track of the Wolf (  (Bret Reiter)


Last week someone requested some info on how to get started  on engraving. I am a self taught engraver.  For what it is worth here are a few pictures of an engraving job I did last summer for a rod for a young girl.

Kennedy, Dave b

Kennedy, Dave c

Kennedy, Dave D

I would start by learning to do script engraving on flat soft copper plates using both the traditional push engraving method and hammer and chisel. With the exception of bulino style and gold inlay (both advanced techniques) all of the cuts in lettering are all you need to know to do more complex work. The key to engraving is sharpening and practice. Once you have a properly sharpened and shaped engraver, it shouldn’t take more than an hour of practice to make some decent cuts.  There is a picture on my web site that shows a close up of a butt cap with my initials and a rosette. Although it is not the best example of engraving; it was only my third attempt at engraving. Shaping and sharpening  a graver may take you anywhere from 10 minutes to six months.  Once you get proficient at  lettering on the flat I would move on to inexpensive nickel silver domed butt plates.

Once you get proficient in copper you can move up to nickel silver sheet stock. Nickel Silver is much more difficult to cut using a push graver, but cuts fairly easily using the hammer and chisel technique.

I would use flat white or grey Rustoleum paint (in cans, not the spray) cut with lacquer thinner to coat the plates for layout. Print out or copy script letters and transfer the design to your practice plate with carbon paper or artist transfer paper.

Remember all hand (push style) engraving is done with counterclockwise cuts!

For sharpening I would get a set of those small credit card sized diamond stones (about $10 each) from EZ-Lap and I would get a small 2" by 4" Norton Hard Arkansas stone for final honing. If I couldn’t get a real Norton brand stone I would order a similar sized  ultra fine ceramic stone.  To hold the graver for sharpening you can buy a Crocker Sharpener ( from GRS, but you will have to modify for accurate work) but I would make a few simple wedges out of any scrap hardwood to hold the gravers for sharpening.  They are more accurate, easier to use, and free.

I would not but an engraving vise to start unless you have money to spare.  I would make a small turntable. A five or six inch diameter piece of one inch thick hardwood with a shaft epoxied into the center and set into a bench is a great way to start. I would mount (hot melt glue) my copper practice plate (say around 2" x 3" or so) to a  matching block of wood and screw the wood to the turntable from underneath. This works as well as a vise for flat work. You will need a vise once you start on  round or curved work- GRS makes the best but plan on spending about $500.00. Don’t cheap out on a vise!

I would order everything  from GRS -  Beware that although GRS is a topnotch supplier they do try to hard sell you.  I would not recommend any type of air powered engraver, or power sharpener  until you know what you are doing and plan to stick with engraving.

A engraving hammer with a 7/8" to 1" face is a necessity in the long run , but a ball pein hammer will work fine to start.

Books- Buy the Meek book The Art of Engraving. In my opinion this is an overly complicated, outdated,  and confusing book, but it does have a lot of info once you figure things out a bit, and it is considered the "bible" of engraving books.

The Jewelry Engravers Manual by Hardy and Bowman-  again this book is a little outdated, I would ignore a lot of the graver prep chapters, but it does give you step by step methods to teach you how to  do proper lettering jobs.  This is the book I learned with and with a few sharp gravers, some paper and pencils, and following the books lessons you can really learn push engraving techniques.

DVD- Sam Alfano has an excellent DVD on graver sharpening. Although it is geared for the GRS air gravers and uses power sharpening equipment, it really is the first video that shows how to set up a graver and gives highly usable angles to start with. It also shows the prepared gravers being used, albeit in an air powered graver. Everything shown can be reproduced  with simpler equipment. This is the best produced video I know of.

Lynton Mckenzie produced  a 3 set tape  in the early nineties. Really you only need the first one to get started.  Brownells still sells them- a bit pricey but it shows a lot of the simple hand techniques used by one of the best gun engravers that ever lived.

Heinar Tamme- produced a set of videos in the eighties which I believe are still available. These are crude self made videos that show an old school master jewelry engraver at work. He was a legend, one of the videos I saw of him shows him engraving an item while doing real time narration and focusing and zooming the camera at the same time.

Gravers-  I would order the "Quick Change" gravers from GRS in the following sizes:

4 or 5-  Glensteel square gravers
2- 120 degree Glensteel square gravers
2- 105 degree Glensteel square gravers
1- #38 flat quick change graver
1- #42 flat quick change graver
1 each of the Onglette (also called  point) quick change graver in sizes #0, #2, and #4

The reason for having multiple gravers of the same style is that you will set up the gravers differently for different techniques or cuts. For example a square graver designed for cutting flat practice plates will be "heeled" differently  when engraving a ferrule, even though you may be making the exact same cut.

1 set (at least 6 holders) of the quick change graver holders (or collets) and  at least one of the quick change handles.

Make or have made from 3/8" or 1/2" round steel or aluminum rod a handle (you just drill a 1/4" hole in the end) to accept the quick change collets so you can use the same graver setup for use with a hammer.  (Dave Kenney)

    OK, so I broke down and took a look at this stuff, WOW that's some great work. I really don't want to get into this, really I don't. Well, maybe someday. I did save the email cause it's full of good information. You know if someone was interested and wanted to find the necessary stuff to get started.

    Great work Dave,  and thanks for sharing this stuff!  (Joe Arguello)

    That is great information and beautiful work.  That's all I need to do is start another hobby.  Wife may collect on my life insurance policy if I do.  (Pete Emmel)

      I'm almost afraid to look at this and I have been putting it off, I know I'll cave in though. I once started looking at knives, then Damascus knives, now I own a 200# Hay Budden anvil, three forges (one charcoal and two propane) a belt sander, and a ton of accessories! Many of the tools I built myself, but all of this takes time and money. Oh yeah I forgot about all the jewelry making supplies I just got rid of that I got to make agate strippers! As far as wives are concerned, I gotta be pushing the limit!  (Joe Arguello)


I am looking for some spectacular engraved reel seats.  Anyone have any suggestions?  (Steve Fitch)

    No personal experience with David but his work is pretty spectacular...

    click on galleries and then on fly rods.  (Dennis Higham)

      Nick Taransky in Australia had some very nice engraving . He may be able to give you a source.  (Ian Kearney)

    There is a fellow up in Alaska that does some pretty fancy engraving and scrimshaw work.  I think his name is Jeff Van Zandt.  I've seen some pictures of his work in Power Fibers so you might want to check the latest issues.  Sorry, I don't seem to have his email or web site address.  I did buy a reel seat from him a few years ago and it was absolutely beautiful.  (Bill Ernst)

    Well...first off..."spectacular" is in the eye of the take this for what you think it's worth...prolly nada...

    REALLY GOOD (excellent, well paid, highly employed), engravers (ie: guys that engrave $200,000.00 shot guns) could care less about what you want. And that's about all there is to it and there's no off season for them so what do they care?

    Now...if you've gotten the "spectacular" thing out of your system, the next thing you have to contend with is some guy who will even write you back and acknowlege you sent him an email. Once you find one of "those guys" you have to find one that will listen to what YOU want. Oh and be sure to tell one of these double or triple engravers that removing .010" off of a .015" female ferrule wall is unacceptable and just sit around and wait for their reply!

    Well I did find one!

    From a kind and unacknowledged source here. I don't remember who steered me to Amy Armstrong but she has bent over backward, replied to every email, seemed to understand metal stress' and more importantly (to me) was willing do to what I asked of her, she sent me numerous sketches, asked questions, wanted to know terminology of ferrule design so she could talk to the poor next dope (that would be you) about what he wanted etc. Not only that, but worked from my head to her head of what I wanted and she just made it happen.

    Now, the person who recommended her thought her prices high. I don't think so and my first order is on the way. (Mike Shay)

    That work from Riccardo (?) is really spectacular.  And while it is probably geographically impractical, you should have a look at my friend Nick Taransky's web site here in Australia and have a look at some of the work done for him by an engraver in Sydney.  This is a bloke called Dick Chapman, and Nick uses him quite a lot; I use him as well, but not very often, as I just don't have the demand for the highly engraved article.

    And of course, do not overlook Bill Oyster!  (Peter McKean)

      I was going to mention Bill, myself, but then I don't know if he takes on outside work.  If things are slow, though, he might, so it's worth looking into.  Check it out, he's pretty proud of the one he did for Jimmy Carter.  (Paul Gruver)


I am considering adding a presentation rod to my line. As I do not have engraving skills I will need to seek out a professional engraver to engrave my butt cap, rings and ferrule components. Can I use reel seat components purchased from Golden Witch, REC, etc. or must I make my own a little thicker. What would you think a fair price from an engraver might be? (Dave Wallace)

    If you look at my site you'll see a few engraved seats.  I've never been able to find anyone to do ferrules.  For the seats, I pay $100-$250 for the engraving pictured.

    My engraver has asked me NOT to give his name out, so I won't.  But if you'll search for the Firearm Engravers Guild and start emailing various members, you might find a few willing to do some work for you.  (Harry Boyd)


Amy Armstrong of Armstrong Engraving in New England Contacted me today via email. Her work looks really good but a little pricey. She may have contacted you guys as well. I have absolutely no $ gain. Check her out at here.  (Dave Wallace)


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