Firearms Engraving Transfers, Les Schowe, Mike Dubber

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Gold Inlay Tutorial by Mike Dubber

Please click on the photo to see an enlarged high resolution version.

This gold inlay of Sam Colt is a work in progress by Mike, and is being installed on the second, non-fluted, cylinder of the Colt Collectors Association 2014 Show Gun.  Mike has taken photos of the various stages of the cylinder inlay of Sam as he proceeds through the process of creating Sam’s image in gold.  Mike has then added some text for each stage of the process, and thus has created a gold inlay tutorial for us.  

The Start, a properly sized photo of Mr. Sam Colt.

The background area is removed to depth of 1/2 mm using a flat and/or liner graver.

The outside edge is undercut with one of Les Schowe's "Gold Inlay Gravers" and then parallel lines are cut with Mike Dubber's "Speitzer Point Graver."

A "Chisel" tool is used (working from bottom to top) to cross cut the parallel lines and raise up a matrix (from three directions) of burrs in the bottom of the cavity.

The area is taped off and sanded smooth, using care not to disturb the surrounding gold frame.

The image is transferred onto the gold inlay a second time to "re-discover" the original edges that may have overrun their limits while setting the gold wires.

The image of Sam was transferred using the Tom White “Transfer Magic” Solution, and Tom’s Transfer Film, printed on an HP Ink Jet Printer.

The inlay is now trimmed to the original edge, and the background removed and punched ( in this case I used a #0 dot punch, but a point punch could also be used as well).

24K gold wire - 20 gauge (.032 inch dia.) - is now punched down into the previously prepared area.  The gold wire has been somewhat flattened by a roller, and then annealed before being hammered into place.

Notes:  the Sam Colt gold inlay is "raised" off the surface of the cylinder, however, especially on a Colt SAA, special care must be taken so that the height of the inlay does not interfere with rotation of the cylinder.  The measurements between cylinder and frame are close, and there are differences gun-to-gun, so be sure to check for clearance.  In this application I am working to create additional visual depth by removing the metal around the inlay.

Please, also note that this is not a photo of Sam Colt.  Some technical issues caused us to use a different photo as an example.

The image is again transferred to the gold inlay (I like the Tom White, “White Transfer Magic” transfer solution on gold) and the outlines of the features are lightly scribed.

The bulino work on the portrait is now underway.  Notice that I tape off the surrounding areas to prevent damage during the bulino process (I use Frog Tape, it works best for me).  The only "tools" are my Zeiss Eye Loupe and Lindsay Bulino Graver....this is how we were taught by Creative Arts Italian engravers at the 2010 GRS Grand Masters Seminar.......I'm sure that a microscope would work fine, but I still like my Loupe.

finished photo of Sam Colt, Colt Collectors Association show gun 2014, by Mike Dubber Poster, Colt Collectors Association show gun 2014, by Mike Dubber photo of Sam Colt - before final finish, Colt Collectors Association show gun 2014, by Mike Dubber