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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

OAK LEAF – A design, commonly engraved on German and Austrian arms, consisting of oak leaves and acorns. Though most prevalent on Germanic arms, engravers of other nationalities use this style occasionally. In German, oak leaf decoration is called “Eichenlaubornament.”

Pictured are examples of oak leaf engraving on four guns; an A. H. Fox, Smith & Wesson, the bolster of a German shotgun, and oak leaves used as part of a scroll design by Gustave Young.
OCCUPATIONAL ENGRAVER – An engraver who earns their entire living as an engraver. A “full time” engraver, as opposed to a “part time” engraver or hobby engraver.
OFF SHADING – A light cut or hairline spaced away from the regular shade cut engraved into fill-in letters.
ONGLETTE – A traditional style graver which when viewed from the face has a profile resembling a boat hull in cross section. Onglettes are also known as a “point” graver. Onglette graver blanks can be found in sizes from #00000 to #8.

Pictured is an onglette graver blank and the face profile of an onglette.
OPTIVISOR - A precision binocular headband magnifier manufactured by Donegan Optical Company, Inc. of Lenexa, Kansas. Most hand engravers, who are not using a microscope, utilize an OptiVISOR™ or a similar product while engraving. Among hand engravers, the term optivisor is often used generically to refer to any headband binocular magnifier.

Pictured is an OptiVISOR™ and a photo of the late Neil Hartleip wearing an OptiVISOR™ while working.
ORNAMENTAL ENGRAVING – The engraving of ornamental motifs, scenes, and figures on items of utility such as armor, edged weapons, flatware, guns, hollow ware, jewelry, and motor vehicle parts as opposed to the engraving of plates for the printing of banknotes or artistic prints.
ORNATO – Italian: Literally – adorned. Used by Italian gun engravers to denote an ornate style of Italianate scrollwork.

Pictured is an Italian O/U shotgun ornato engraved by Piardi and the receiver of a Winchester model 1892 ornato engraved by Carl B. Bleile of Cincinnati.
OUTLINING – A term used by hand engravers when referring to the engraving of scroll backbones (spirals) and the outlines of the flowers, leaves, and tendrils. Outlining is one of three basic tasks in the engraving of ornamental designs. These three are: outlining, shading, and backgrounding. There are styles of engraved ornamentation that omit either backgrounding and/or shading. For instance sculpted relief ornament is not shaded as shading is only a substitute for actual relief. Flare cut scroll requires neither shading nor backgrounding as the beveled outlining cuts create a relief appearance that contrast with a plain background.

Pictured is a shotgun receiver in the process of being engraved. The black arrow points to scrollwork that has been outlined and the white arrow points to scrollwork that has been outlined and the background removed. The next step will be the shading of the leaves with hatching and cross-hatching.
OUTSIDE WORK – In reference to English fine scroll, the “outside work” is the tiny engraved leaves and tendrils that form the outside edge around the scrolls.

OVAL GRAVER – A graver which when viewed from the face is oval in profile. Ovals are one of the least commonly used gravers. Oval graver blanks come in sizes from #60 to #67.

Pictured is an oval graver blank and the face profile of an oval graver.
OVERLAY – The process of attaching a precious metal design, lettering, or figure to the surface of a metal object such as a belt buckle, gun, knife, ring, or watch. This can be done by various methods, including soldering, brazing, plating, or roughing the surface with “teeth” and hammering on the overlay. Gun engravers cannot solder on overlays if the gun is to be blued because the bluing salts can damage the solder and cause the overlay to fall off.

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