Frequently Asked Questions

See also the description of the hand engraving process here

Can any Lie-Nielsen tool be engraved?

Most planes and backsaws can. The surface to be engraved should be smooth and relatively flat, such as plane bodies and most lever caps, and the brass backs of back saws. Engraving on curved or domed surfaces poses a significantly higher level of difficulty in layout and cutting, along with a greater risk of slipping, and thus commands a higher price. A few Lie-Nielsen tools, such as the spokeshaves, side rabbet planes, beading tool, and edge planes don't offer flat surfaces for engraving. Hardened steel is not engraveable; ruling out chisels, saw blades, card scrapers and plane blades. The larger bench plane bodies pose some difficulties.

What about non- Lie-Nielsen tools?

Many fine tools, both new and old, are engraveable. There are many beautiful tools out there; many of them would be enhanced with a bit of engraving. Some things that could discourage engraving are: no appropriate spot on the tool; inappropriate material (white metal, hardened steel, chrome plating); an unwieldy size or shape. If you have a question about the appropriateness of a particular tool, please email me.

What limits engraving on the bodies of the larger bench planes?

In order to cut scrolls or the looping portions of letters, the plane body or other object being engraved must be carefully rotated as the cut is being made, while the graver is held relatively stationary. This may sound odd at first, but by turning the work into the tool the cutting angle of the tool can be more precisely controlled, and this directly affects the accuracy of the cut. Rotating the longer plane bodies is unwieldy, making smooth cuts difficult. A number 4 ½ bench plane is the largest size feasible for overall body engraving. A number 5 jack (or larger) plane can be engraved near the middle of the sides but not easily out near the ends; however, the lever caps on all of the bench planes provide a good opportunity for engraving monograms, inscriptions or ornamental work.

Do you engrave used/old L-N tools?


Can you engrave wood?

Generally speaking, no. Some types of wood can be carved with fine details, but not nearly as fine as is possible on metal. The primary difference is in how the two materials behave as they are being cut, and the shapes of the cutting edges of the tools used to cut them. The exception is for printmaking; dense hardwood blocks are cut on the endgrain with gravers or burins, tools similar to those used for engraving metal. Visit Tony Kulik's website for some very nice prints from wood engravings. I don't engrave wood, but I do carve it.

Can monograms be combined with other engraving?

Monograms can be worked into an ornamental design, or combined with inscriptions.

Can I have a family crest or heraldic achievement / business logo / other design engraved on my plane?

In most cases, yes, and they can look great. Some graphic designs may need to be modified to work as an engraving.

How long does it take?

Please allow up to two weeks for monograms and inscriptions. More involved projects with ornamental work may take longer, depending on how involved they are. I will give a time estimate when your order is received.

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