Master Engraver Can Bring Your Idea to Life

Pedro Villarrubia embellishes fixed blades and folding knives with his sought-after engravings. The artisan says a hand engraved knife brings something unique even to high-end custom blades.

Villarrubia’s engravings have appeared on knives from Michael Zieba, Mick Strider, and many others. His work gets auctioned at exclusive shows like the Tactical Knife Invitational, and through luxury outlets like William Henry. Production knives including Spydercos, Bucks, and Kizers also make appearances on Villarrubia’s workbench.

Tactical skulls, fantasy-style dragons, Japanese woodblock images – Villarrubia does it all. He doesn’t have a particular specialty but does whatever a customer requests. Similar to a tattoo artist, Villarrubia will go back and forth with his clients to collaborate on the final image. “I engrave what my client ask me,” he tells us. “He gives me the idea, and I prepare the image for him.” The Madrid-based engraver does most work with pneumatic hand tools, although he says an old-fashioned manual tool works best for the small details often seen on bolsters, as well as inlays.

Engraving by Pedro Villarrubia

With most of his business consisting of knives, Villarrubia regularly comes up against two of the most difficult materials to engrave: steel and titanium. These are harder on tools than softer media like gold or silver, and Villarrubia says he might need to stop and sharpen his burin (an engraving chisel) several times during a strenuous job. Trends like integral construction can sometimes add to the complications. “The integral handle is very temperamental, and this diffuses the engraving,” he explains.

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Engraving doesn’t increase a knife’s performance, and it can be costly. But for collectors and enthusiasts, there are tangible advantages beyond beauty. In a soft market, engravings have become a way to add value to a knife. “A knife engraved by hand becomes a unique, exclusive piece that no one else will have,” Villarrubia says. This is true of both custom and production knives. “The piece is revalued as it becomes exclusive,” Villarrubia, who never repeats a pattern, tells us.

A former blacksmith, Villarrubia took his first step to becoming an engraver when he tried to sign one of his forged blades. “I wanted to put my initials on a sword and began to look for a way to do it.” The research set him on the path to professional engraving. Villarrubia collects knives but says he hasn’t gotten around to engraving any of his own. “I don’t have time, but I would love to engrave some of them in the future.”

You can reach out to Villarrubia for work on his website. Prices vary depending on time, materials, and size of the job.

Knife featured in image: Spyderco Military

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