Engraving has been practiced since the Stone Age where eggshells used for water containers were decorated. The practiced grew and evolved over time and gained popularity for jewelers, typesetters, and gunsmiths. Its use on motorcycles dates back to choppers and customs and its popularity, like most artistic elements, comes and goes. While computer-aided engraving has started to make its way onto mass-produced motorcycle parts, there is still no substitution for the human hand. After following a single piece make its way from a stock dash to a piece of motorcycle art, we grew to learn that engraving is nothing short of an art form on par with painting, tattooing, or drawing. Hernan D'Aloia, from Hernan's Custom Engraving, has been honing his skills for more than a decade and has established himself as one of the top craftsman in the lowrider engraving community. We followed the dash for our project 1989 FLHS purchased at a swap meet as it was prepped by True Finish Chrome Plating for stripping and polishing, over to Hernan for hand engraving, and back to True Finish for final chrome. The end result can only be described as motorcycle jewelry and we can't wait to get this, and our other parts, mounted on our project bike.
1 Our selected parts for engraving were marked for inventory.
2 The first step is a dip in caustic soda that removes the old chrome.
3 The parts are hung with copper hooks and electrified. Bubbles indicate a reaction.
4 Aluminum parts require a nitric acid wash that will remove nickel and copper metals.
5 Next the parts move to a diluted acid rinse.
6 These parts are fresh out of a chemical strip and are ready for polish.
7 Our dash was buffed with a fine-grade belt to remove nickel, then polished and buffed.
8 Off to Hernan. He uses a sharpie to mark a boarder around the dash.
9 Next the dash is bolted to a piece of wood for easier handling.
10 A special clamp designed for jewelry allows for a smooth and firm working vise.
11 The outline is cut first.
12 Long curls are a sign of true talent and a steady hand.