Gun Metal Engraving Tools

Updated February 21, 2017

From the early days of firearms owning a finely engraved weapon was considered a mark of distinction. That tradition has continued through today as engraved firearms are available both from the factory and custom gun engravers. Many of the mass-produced engraved guns do not have investment value, but one-of-a-kind engraved firearms from recognised artists usually gain in value. A custom engraver may use a simple air-hammer and chisel for his work.

Air Compressors

Air compressors provide the continuous power to the hammer, allowing the metal to be cut in a flowing pattern without the engraver needing to stop. Running on standard household power, these compressors can range up to £650 in October 2010. Hammers can also run on compressed air cylinders.


The hammer, or piston, holds the actually engraving tool, which can be swapped out for another similar drill bit. The compressed air drives the tool forward and is controlled either by a foot pedal or by the hammer end. The hammer normally has a large palm grip for easier control.


The graver, or cutting tool, comes in blanks that are then sharpened into shapes by the smith. The smith may use templates to cut the gravers to a certain style and size, or he may make his own graver cutting-point and edge, depending upon his style.


An engraver also has various types of hones and sharpeners to keep the gravers in top cutting conditions. Manual stones are used for fine detail and touch-up, with electric sharpeners available for taking off more metal and gross shaping.

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About the Author

Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.