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Engraved case-hardened


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You wish to have a pistol with a color case hardened frame. You also wish to have the pistol engraved.

 

Since case hardening is actually a surface hardening technique, would not having it case hardened prior to the engraving make the engraving much more difficult? And tend to wear out engraving tools?

 

https://gunsmagazine.com/discover/two-of-a-kind/

 

The man is describing having a pair of guns customized. And they are both color case hardened and engraved. And in the article he said they were hardened first.

 

This just seems wrong to me.

 

Does it seem wrong to anyone else? Of course they could have engraved them first and then sent them off to be case hardened, and he just got it backwards when he wrote the article.

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Not sure about other manufacturers, but I know Colt used to ship guns "soft" if they were to be engraved. Likely a hardened frame would need to be annealed prior to engraving, as Crooked River Pete mentioned. If it weren't, besides being difficult to engrave since the tools would "skate" across the hardened surface, the engraving would expose soft metal and potentially create failure points.

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I have engraved color case hardened guns in the past.  They can be cut without first annealing, but frequent tool resharpening is necessary and progress must be taken fairly slowly.  Tool steel gravers are typically harder than surface hardening, and carbide and even diamond gravers are readily available.  

 

With that said, it is easiest to engrave medium-hard steel.  Too soft and it raises rough micro-burrs at the edges of curved cuts.  Too hard and gravers tend to skip out of the pattern. 

 

Different people prefer different methods.  Annealing and recoloring is always a craps shoot.  You never know what the outcome will look like, or if frames will be warped or made brittle or surface porous by the repetitive heat treating, even when done in a tightly controlled oven. 

 

Personally, I prefer to leave color case-hardened guns plain, without further embellishment.  They are usually quite beautiful as they are.  

 

I've not heard before of factory guns being shipped out annealed or prior to surface finishing.  That would seem to affect manufacturer warranties. 

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I had a side plate on 1876 replica engraved.  I was quoted $34.00 for the simple job.  When I got it back the craftsman stated "that damn thing has real color case hardening.  I ruined a couple of engraving tools on it".  I offered to pay for them.  He told me it was his fault for not checking first and besides, he could make it back later.

 

Also, if you do get through the color on the surface, the bare metal below will show though and make your piece look like a toy cap gun.

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In "Last Stand at Sabre River", when Tom Selleck's wife, (Suzi Amis), gives him the 1860 Richards she made him, she says that while she engraved the barrel, ejector rod housing, and cylinder, she couldn't engrave the frame because it was Case Hardened.

 

LastStandColt.jpg

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15 hours ago, Crooked River Pete, SASS 43485 said:

image.thumb.png.190e90ef81b1bf3de3a8fc7fadde375e.png

Let me speak to those grips, and I'll let that excellent engraving speak for itself!
I'm looking at the checkering.

Relief diamond work is gorgeous and symmetrical, and pretty darn hard to do.

I am taking a long look at the checkering on the inside curve of those relief diamond pedestals.
My most profound respect to the artist who can create such uniform work inside these curved borders!

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4 hours ago, Linn Keller, SASS 27332, BOLD 103 said:

Let me speak to those grips, and I'll let that excellent engraving speak for itself!
I'm looking at the checkering.

Relief diamond work is gorgeous and symmetrical, and pretty darn hard to do.

I am taking a long look at the checkering on the inside curve of those relief diamond pedestals.
My most profound respect to the artist who can create such uniform work inside these curved borders!

Paul Persinger, those grips cost almost as much as the engraving.

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