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Hand Engraving Glossary - by Roger Bleile -  Sponsored by Steve Lindsay  -  Leave Feedback

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American Engravers
The 21st Century

C. Roger Bleile

HAIRLINES – A cut of minimum width and depth in script lettering, executed with a finely pointed graver that connects letters. Also known as a “kern.”
HAMMER – On cartridge firing firearms, the hammer is the piece that pivots on an axis to deliver a blow to the firing pin. The hammers of engraved firearms are often engraved with scrollwork but are sometimes engraved with stylized dog, dragon, or wolf heads. See DRAGON HEAD HAMMER.
HAND ENGRAVER/FREEHAND ENGRAVER – One who engraves into metal with a graver, either manually or power driven, which the engraver controls entirely freehand. A hand engraver can be contrasted to a machine engraver who performs the set-up of an engraving machine after which the machine performs the engraving either by electric or manual power.
HAND ENGRAVING – Engraving executed by a hand engraver using a burin, a bulino, a chisel or a graver mounted in a power tool and controlled in an entirely freehand manner. In general usage,” hand engraving” usually refers to engraved objects de Art, jewelry, items of utility such as guns or knives, or musical instruments as contrasted with “engraving” which is understood to indicate engraved printing plates or wood blocks for the reproduction of art or banknotes.
HAND GRAVER – A common engraver’s term for a burin.
HATCHING - An artistic technique used to create tonal or shading effects by drawing or engraving closely spaced parallel lines. When such lines are placed at an angle to one another, it is called cross-hatching. Hatching and cross-hatching are especially important in essentially linear media, such as drawing, and many forms of printmaking, such as engraving, etching and woodcut. Gun and knife engravers, when referring to the hatching of leaves, flowers and vines, call this “shading” but the term cross-hatching is still used when the shading or hatching lines are crossed at an angle with additional lines.

Pictured is an example of hatching used in the shading of scroll leaves.
HEEL – That portion of a graver that is below the face and is ground into the tool to provide additional lift for hand clearance and promote better steering control. Heels are usually ground to provide between 10 and 20 degrees of lift depending on the object being engraved and the type of hand piece in which the graver is mounted.

HERALDRY – As it applies to hand engravers, heraldry is the art of blazoning armorial bearings on armor, seals, signets, and weapons. Some hand engravers are specialists in the field of crests and coats of arms with the majority of their work on signet rings.

Pitured is an example of a raised gold inlayed crest as part of an antique gun.
HIGH SPEED STEEL - High speed steel (often abbreviated HSS, sometimes HS) is a material usually used in the manufacture of machine tool bits and other cutters including gravers. It is often used in power saw blades and drill bits. It is superior to the older high carbon steel tools used extensively through the 1940s in that it can withstand higher temperatures without losing its temper (hardness). This property allows HSS to cut faster than high carbon steel, hence the name high speed steel. High speed steel is the most common alloy used in the manufacture of traditional graver blanks because of its combination of toughness, chip resistance, and ability to be sharpened on a bench stone rather than diamond laps or hones.
HINTERGRUNDS – German: Background treatment of ornamental scroll, motifs, or scenes.
HOB – In the manufacturing industry, the term “hob” is used to describe what is known as a “hub” in the jewelry and award industry. A hob is the male counterpart of a die. Hobs are often used as a master to create additional dies of the same design.
HOLLOWWARE – As referenced by engravers, hollowware is a collective term for silver table items such as chocolate pots, coffee pots, or teapots, bowls, or cups. Engraving on these items is usually limited to ciphers, crests, initials, or monograms. Occasionally other engraved decoration is applied however scroll and floral decoration is usually applied by repousse or with dies.

HUB – In the jewelry and award industry, the term “hub” is used to describe what is known as a “hob” in the manufacturing industry. A hub is the male counterpart of a die. Hubs are often used as a master to create additional dies of the same design.
HUNT ENGRAVED – Sporting gun dealers and gun auction catalogs frequently use the description “Hunt engraved”. This does not mean that the gun in question is engraved with a hunting scene or is to be used for hunting. It is a reference to British engraver Ken Hunt, whose career as a gun engraver spanned 58 years, eclipsing the longevity of such notables as L.D. Nimschke. Hunt was apprenticed at an early age to the late Harry Kell of London who likewise had a lengthy and honored career. Ken Hunt is a pioneer in techniques of design and execution that took gun engraving from the realm of a decorative trade to an art form in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st until his retirement from gun work in 2009. Mr. Hunt also apprenticed his daughter Allison and son Marcus as engravers. Ken Hunt is also notable as a Grand Master instructor of engraving.

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