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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

WAFFENGRAVUREN – German for weapon (pistol, rifle, and shotgun) engraving.
WATCH CASE ENGRAVING – The field of watch case engraving, at one time in the late 19th century, employed hundreds of highly skilled craftsmen at factories like Elgin, Illinois, the Wadsworth Watch Case factory, and Waltham. Rather than engraving an entire watch the engravers were broken down into specialties such as lettering and inscriptions, scroll and floral work, and gold overlay. Along with the engravers were other highly skilled machinists who operated brocading machines, engine turning lathes and Rose engines which applied guilloche and other patterns in conjunction with the hand engraving to create masterpieces of the watchmaker’s art.

Today with pocket watches in the realm of collectables, there has been a small renaissance of hand engraving on the cases of high-end wristwatches. There are very few hand engravers worldwide who strictly specialize in watch work but skilled gun, knife, and jewelry engravers who fill gaps in their work schedule with watch work have filled this need.

Pictured are a wristwatch, pocket watch, and a watch movement engraved by Steve Lindsay and a Waltham Riverside c. 1882.
WHEAT CHAFF – A design used for borders, it resembles wheat chaff laid end-to-end. Also known as "running wheat."

WHETTING or WHETTING-UP – An engraver’s term for the sharpening of a graver. A term rarely used in the present day that has been replaced by “sharpening.”
WHITE - A type of thin paint used to cover the metal before engraving so that the design to be engraved can be sketched or transferred on. Engravers use various types of paint and thinner mixtures. The formulas for “white” are as numerous as there are engravers. This should not be confused with "in the white" which is a gun engraver's term meaning a gun that has had no metal finish, such as bluing or case hardening, yet applied. A gun "in the white" is ready to be engraved.

Pictured is a sideplate with the outline engraving complete and the "white" is still in place.
WIGGLE TOOL or WRIGGLE TOOL – 1. A burin shaped like a flat chisel, used to engrave zigzag lines. 2. The engraving created by a wiggle tool.

Pictured is a "wiggle tool" motif on a recoil shield and revolver barrel that has been "wiggle tooled."

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